Going Paperless

Becoming a paperless office makes complete economic, practical and sustainable sense. Traditionally in business we use LOTS of paper; from quotes, purchase orders, invoices, and all the other documents that may be unique to your business. With new regulation in many industries too, the paper trail just seems to be getting longer and it may be hard to get your head around taking all that paper out of the system, but it is possible.

Each business will be different depending on their business model and size; however there is no reason that any business could not reduce paper consumption. At Ecolease we reduced paper by 95%, the 5 % being printed contracts for signing.

For me the biggest benefit is knowing we run a truly contemporary & nimble office ready to handle the rapid pace of business. The paperless system without a doubt has made us incredibly efficient and productive and enabled our lean little organisation to handle a high volume of transactions.

I encourage you to give it a go if you are not already, it really isn’t that hard and the benefits are worth it. Imagine the reduction in your stationery bill every month!

Here are some of the other benefits we have found:

  • Flexibility to do business wherever you and your clients are
  • Faster delivery of information and service
  • Faster time to completion of each transaction
  • Better Access to information 24/7
  • Reduced cost of print, post, handling
  • Reduced costs associated with storing files including fewer filing cabinets and less floor-space
  • Better staff “head space” means better productivity due to neater desks and less office clutter
  • Better document security means you can control who has access to files and comply with privacy laws
  • Better disaster recovery and mobility means your business is much less vulnerable to such things as fire or flood. An entire firm’s files can be backed up on a laptop or in the cloud.

MAKING THE CHANGE

In our experience at Ecolease, the conversion to becoming a paperless office required a “paradigm shift” around how we delivered our service and most importantly, around deep seated work habits (mostly mine!).

Once we sat down and really looked at where we could strip back the paper trail and replace it with a digital one, it didn’t take much to incorporate new work practice. The main thing is everyone has to be on board and open to change (scary!)

Without going into huge amount of detail, here are some hints on how to do it.

Invest in good technology

Software:

  • PDF Converter package (must have)
  • Online Accounting Software such as XERO (handy to have)
  • Mobile/Internet Banking (handy to have)

Hardware:

  • Dual monitors for all staff (must have especially for processing staff) – this alone improves productivity and efficiency 10 fold, you won’t look back once working from dual extended monitors
  • Good quality scanner (initially there will be lots of scanning of old files)

Plan with the team

Sit down with the team and look at every step and every document used to complete a single transaction: from initial enquiry to post sale care.

Work out what document really needs to be printed and what doesn’t. Be ruthless. Less paper means less handling and more time spent on delivering good service and getting on to the next transaction. It also means better margins in possibly a shrinking margin environment.

Here is a good article on going paperless by Xero Software which is quite comprehensive and helpful.