Scan, shred and relax. That is the essence of becoming a paperless office.
However, while the process may seem like three simple words, actually getting to that point is far more complicated.
Previously, many companies were just using a scanning solution as a way to archive unneeded documents. However, as the ability to access information from anywhere with the help of cloud computing options and document sharing services have become more popular, digital paperwork is now a critical piece of many companies' daily operations.
According to Brooks Duncan, a paperless advice specialist who spoke with BBC News, the most challenging part of the paperless process is to figure out a starting point. When a business leader is staring at stacks of paper in multiple locations in the office, it can be tough to figure out where to dive in.
"It definitely pays off when you are first looking at going paperless to take some time with organization," Duncan said. "What a lot of people do is they go out and buy a scanner and then start scanning their documents. They replace their physical paper mess with a digital mess!"
Taking that first step, in any new project, is always a challenge. Getting rid of the paperwork in favor of a digital approach can seem daunting, especially because it means a shift in the way that companies handle daily business. The first wave of the transition is the hardest and likely to require the most work.
However, companies do not need to go into this alone. By partnering with a document scanning and management service, any business is able to gain a helping hand with a paperless approach.
Back in 1978, information scientist Frederick Wilfrid Lancaster envisioned the possibilities of a paperless society in his book "Toward Paperless Information Systems." One would think that with nearly 35 years to think about this prospect, every office would already be there by now. However, I'm sure as you take a look around your workplace, you can see that that is not the case.
That doesn't mean we are not getting closer, as a recent Forbes article points out. It feels like the technology has finally advanced to the point where it can make Lancaster's vision a reality. With cloud services, email, the internet and countless other products, it is possible to have a fully digital office, even if few have obtained it.
"Thanks to emerging paperless technologies, business owners can bypass many headaches and decrease their environmental footprint at the same time," Kate Harrison, the author of the piece wrote. "Not only does going paperless clear clutter from your office environment, but it also saves you money and is a great PR message for potential customers and partners."
She laid out several technologies and services that have made this digital shift possible, tools like Google Docs, paperless billing and statements, and electronic meetings and calendars. However, these services do not answer the question what to do with the 35 years of documents that have been taking up space since Lancaster first spoke about a paperless office.
This is where a document scanning and management service becomes an invaluable resource. By partnering with an outside company, a business does not need to dedicate internal manpower and time to scanning countless files when it would be better served working on more critical projects.
One of the biggest draws to going paperless is the cost saving potential. This is easy to understand, as every business is looking for a way to save a few extra dollars, especially when the economy is still in recovery mode. In many instances, however, talk is cheap and seeing these strategies in the field is the easiest argument.
A recent Health Tech article features a profile of the opening of a new medical practice in Alberta, Canada. It covers how they went paperless and the benefits that were gleaned from it. The new facility was the idea of several doctors who hired Martin Penninga to be the office manager.
When looking for a new office space, Penninga purposely looked for a space that was too small for document storage. He cites that previous clinics he had worked in took nearly one-third of the total building space. Physicians had overhead costs of as much as 40 percent of billing revenue and required 1.5 nurses for every single physician to do administrative work.
While many of the physicians were hesitant to adopt these news solutions, they agreed. The practice, which opened in 2011, has saved $6,500 in per-physician annual costs. It also booked $25,000 more in revenue per physician than the old clinic. This has led to an overall growth for the practice of 28.4 percent.
The effect was more than just in the money. The clinic doubled the number of physicians on staff and increased the number of patients seen per year by 1,200.
This was mainly possible because the office went paperless. By partnering with an document storage and scanning practice, any business can start moving into a digital format and start saving money.
On April 22, 1970, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the first environmental teach-in known as Earth Day. In 1990 the idea was taken national by Denis Hayes. Now, 43 years after it was founded, 192 countries take part in events that focus on environmental issues.
"Though Earth Day may now be synonymous with small-scale tree planting and volunteer cleanup projects, the first Earth Day actually had its sights set on bigger political projects," a Fox News report said. "Earth Day demonstrations created public support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, authorized by Congress in December 1970. Earth Day also contributed to the passage of the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species acts."
This is also the time of year when many individuals and companies start to look at how they affect the world around them from an environmental perspective. In many cases, this includes the topic of recycling and how unneeded materials are being repurposed.
Many businesses have recycling programs set up within the office. Whether it is as simple as bins spread through the building, providing employees a place for cans, bottles and paper, or more intensive undertakings like planting trees or adopting highways, going green is a process that many companies have already taken part in.
However, there are many other processes that can be undertaken in support of Earth Day, such as going paperless. Not only will eliminating paper from the office help do away with clutter and improve the efficiency with digital documents, but it also lowers the amount of paper that gets tossed away.
By partnering with a document scanning and management company, any business can limit the amount of paper used on a daily basis and convert existing documents into an electronic format. Electronic document storage is a great way to go green and participate in this year's Earth Day.
There is a good chance that at some point you have filled out an online form for something. Whether it's a job application or a raffle for free tickets, more processes are becoming electronic and businesses are jumping on board with this strategy in order to streamline workflows.
This week, Michigan's Department of Human Services (DHS) offices in Alpena and Atlanta announced the start of a shift toward a paperless office. According to the Alpena News, this move is part of a statewide change.
Residents will be able to apply for all DHS programs online. They will also be able to view a wealth of information, like remaining balances for food assistance. Anyone who feels uncertain about the change can meet with volunteers and DHS staff who will help explain and walk through the signup process.
John Keller, the office director for DHS, told the news source that the office will also start scanning and indexing all documents as part of its paperless system. He added that last year an average of 8,186 people in Alpena County were receiving assistance through one of the five DHS programs, so improving the manner and timeliness of service is an important factor in this decision.
"We have a large volume of paper coming into this office. This is going to increase efficiency," Keller told the news source. "We've had some really good results," he said. "Our staff has these documents on index at their fingertips, instead of having to go through a file."
Time is a critical resource for any company and moving to a paperless strategy is becoming more important. With the help of a document scanning and management service, any business can start moving into the digital realm.
It's that time of the year when the weather starts to get nice and many of us begin that annual ritual of spring cleaning. Regardless of where we live - in a small apartment or a large estate - having everything organized, tossing out the unwanted clutter and making our lives more efficient is something that everyone can benefit from. It is also the reason that home improvement stores like Home Depot experience a spike in sales as everyone is making the investments in the containers, organizers and other tools that are necessary to do the job right.
This strategy, however, can also be used by businesses across the country. While not every company needs to rake and fertilize their lawns, there are plenty of cabinets, storage spaces and boxes that can be organized. One of the best ways to do this is with the adoption of a paperless approach.
By partnering with a document scanning and management company, a business can start the process of cleaning out the drawers and getting rid of the stacks of paper while also better organizing paperwork and streamlining several processes.
First off, by moving to a digital realm, businesses are able to free up the physical space that the boxes of records are currently taking up.
Second is the ability to more easily search a database for a desired document instead of digging through box after box to find the physical copy that should be in a specific location.
Finally, with the use of advanced document management software and business intelligence solutions, businesses can use big data and analytics to improve any number of company processes thanks to the new digital information.
There are several other benefits, such as the ability to more easily incorporate mobile devices or a stronger remote workforce. It is clear that going paperless is about more than just freeing up space and spring cleaning time is a perfect opportunity to start.
Tonight, the men's basketball teams from the University of Michigan and the University of Louisville will meet on the court at the Georgia Dome to decide the finals of the ever-popular March Madness basketball tournament. While the Wolverines and Cardinals battle on the hardwood, a different fight is being waged in the stands over ticket reselling, and a digital platform may be the biggest x-factor.
According to a recent article for ESPN, the Final Four has been one of the biggest tests that digital tickets have faced so far. Roughly 40 percent of all tickets available for the event – about 30,000 seats - are paperless. That is an increase from years past, when the total number of digital tickets was capped at 2,800 and they were only distributed to students of the four schools (700 per team).
This has been done to ensure that the seats given to students were assigned to a particular person. Once the ticket was in hand, it was non-transferable. This year, anyone who won tickets through the NCAA lottery, as well as coaches who can purchase tickets through the allotment provided to them, have been added to the group that gets a digital version.
The NCAA is doing this to ensure that, for the most part, only those who are purchasing tickets are the ones showing up. It will also cut down on fraud as opportunistic individuals will not be able to scalp digital versions of tickets. In the past a ticket that was purchased for $200 could easily be resold for $2,000.
This issue has reached the point that it is now being heard by the Texas State Legislature later this week.
Companies are going paperless for a number of different reasons, from preventing fraud to freeing up office space to improving record keeping. Any business that is interested in moving down this path would be wise to partner with a document scanning and management firm.