Wouldn’t it be great if you could just snap your fingers like Mary Poppins and your paperless office would be put in place? Unfortunately, we live in reality and the task of building a paperless office can seem daunting. This process doesn’t have to be that way; you can put it all together. Do you remember playing with LEGOS® as a kid? Your new LEGO toy came with some simple step-by-step instructions. Now, building a paperless office isn’t quite as simple, but here are four steps that can help you along the way to putting your paperless office together:
1. Make a List of Documents You Currently File
Putting together a list of documents is the first thing that I do when I am working with a company to help them get their document management system up and running. It allows for us to figure out what the office keeps and how long it should be kept. It also begins to help me understand how the paperless system will be organized.
This exercise allows us to determine what is important to the office and what shouldn’t be kept at all. Whatever industry your business falls into, this step is important so you aren’t wasting time converting documents that shouldn’t be captured.
2. List the Processes That Accompany Each Document
Once you have listed out your documents, the next step is determining the course each document takes or the life of the document. If you are in the Accounting industry, what is the process supporting documents take in the tax preparation task? If you are a city, and use an RFP process, how do you move the RFP through the approval process? Whose hands does it touch?
3. Decide What System to Use
If you are going paperless, there are many options to choose from. You could use Windows® folders, an industry specific solution, or a document management solution that is completely independent. Whatever you choose, be sure to look for something that will optimize your office, but is simple enough for your employees to use. One thing that I was told many times when working with a company is that all the systems they had looked at were either very difficult to use or very expensive.
4. Optimize Your Paper Processes for Your Paperless Environment
After a few months have passed, and you have determined that your system is working as it should, revisit your new paperless processes and evaluate them. All too often this step is missed and you miss out on the opportunity to work with your power users to remove any bottlenecks in the system and improve your efficiency.
No matter the size of your company or what industry you are in, these four initial steps apply. You may feel that a paperless office is beyond your reach right now, but by applying these steps you will ensure the success of your overall process of implementing a paperless office. If you don’t start looking at how to create efficiencies in your business, how do you expect to keep up with your competition? Start creating an efficient office now by implementing these steps.