“ACHIEVING UTOPIA: THE PAPERLESS OFFICE” by Dan Bressler, Technical Trainer/Systems Engineer/Help Desk Support at Broad and Cassel (reprinted with permission)
We all know what this is… a folder filled with client documents. Just one of thousands of file folders that are taking up an enormous amount of space in filing cabinets, in boxes, and in vacant offices. Every day, we spend countless hours searching through paper files, looking for documents that we need. And if the file isn’t where it’s supposed to be, that makes the scavenger hunt all that more difficult.
Today’s technology provides a host of awesome tools allowing us to help reduce the amount of paper used, and as a result, allow us to find what we need quickly and easily without having to make a trip to the file cabinet… or that pile of boxes across the hall. Every step towards a paperless environment will save you time, money, storage space and clutter. So here are some tips to achieve the goal of becoming a paperless office.
So where do we begin? First, let’s turn the word ‘paperless’ around. It should really say ‘less paper’ because let’s face it… accomplishing this goal is achieved by using less paper. The word paperless can be used to communicate awareness for helping the environment. And even though that’s a happy by-product of using less paper, that’s not what we’re focusing on here. Our goal is to have one consistent and secure location where all client files can be stored electronically, and even shared with clients. We already have the perfect solution readily available right at your fingertips… NetDocuments.
SHARE FILES WITHOUT THAT TRIP TO THE PRINTER.
Wikipedia defines a paperless office as “…a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced. This is done by converting documents and other papers into digital form. Going paperless can save money, boost productivity, save space, make document sharing easier, keep personal information more secure, and even help the environment.”
Traditional offices have paper-based filing systems, which may include filing cabinets, folders, shelves, etc… all of which require maintenance, equipment, considerable space, and are resource-intensive. Not to mention costly.
Think about this… when computer data is printed on paper it becomes ‘out-of-sync’ with the file on the computer once it has been updated. Paper is also difficult to search, especially when the same document is updated and printed multiple times. Where’s the latest version? How do you know it’s the latest version?
A paperless office would have a single-source collection point for documents, email, and files (such as NetDocuments.) Also, modern computer screens make reading less exhausting for the eyes, and laptops can be used practically anywhere. With tablet computers and smartphones, many argue that paper is now obsolete to all but those who are resistant to technological change.
A DAY IN THE LIFE…
Let’s look at an example of a typical day in the life of a document. When you work with a client, you send over some draft documents for review and editing. The client might fill in any missing details, make corrections, add or delete verbiage, and then send it back — generally in the form of a Word or PDF file. You then make more edits, and then send it back to the client again. This may go on for a while as your email account continues to grow in size. You might need to print the file, sign it, and scan the signed document so it can be returned to the client. Then the client must print the signed version, sign it themselves, and return the completed paperwork to you. See where I’m going with this? It’s a tedious process that wastes paper on both ends… not to mention that it begins to clutter your email.
Instead of doing all that, you can utilize the power of NetDocuments to have all your documents in one convenient workspace, share the document(s) with clients over the web, and allow them to securely access those documents for review AND editing whenever they want. You and your client can be working on documents in real time and see each other’s changes immediately. And if a PDF file needs to be signed, some clients have begun to use a digital signature tool where you receive an email with a link to “sign” the document, you sign it digitally on your computer, and you’re done. No muss, no fuss, and no wasted paper or cluttered inbox.
Use the technology at your disposal to eliminate clutter around your office and your Inbox. Using less paper will not only improve efficiency, but it will also save money, save time, and save everyone a lot of headaches! Start the paperless movement in your office today, and achieve utopia!!