A paperless office sounds great, doesn’t it? Imagine that all of your communications and business processes occur in a digital environment. When information arrives from your customers, suppliers and vendors, any paper documents are immediately converted into a digital format, and your organization manages and distributes all information electronically.But if you currently use a confusing jumble of paper documents and digital files, the paperless office may seem beyond your reach. Often, organizations continue to use the same inefficient processes because they don’t know where to start.
Here are the three initial steps to building your paperless office:
- Take inventory of your current paper-based assets: The first step is to identify what paper documents you currently have and figure out what you need to keep and for how long. From there, create a series of classifications to use in describing these documents, and use them to begin segmenting your paper-based assets.
Classifying your documents in this way helps you distinguish important information from what’s essentially junk. When you’re scanning paper into your digital document management system, it would be a huge waste to convert every paper-based asset and treat them all the same. As you continue moving toward a paperless office, these document categories are extremely helpful in automating your processes.
- Map out the processes that accompany each type of paper: In addition to identifying the different types of paper documents you have, it’s important to understand the kinds of processes that go along with them. A document that’s critical for a current client project would require different steps than your tax returns and accounting documents, for example. Who contributes to the content? Who reviews and/or approves these items? What role do they play in compliance?
- Optimize business processes for a digital environment: When moving to a paperless office, look for opportunities to streamline the business processes you used for paper documents, eliminating steps that aren’t necessary in a digital workflow. This is where many companies miss out on the benefits of a paperless office: They’re comfortable with how they do things today, and don’t have the vision to see what they could be like tomorrow.
These three initial steps apply across the board, regardless of your organization’s size, type or industry. What varies, however, is the way these steps are weighted. In a five-person law firm, for example, it’s relatively easy to categorize all of your paper documents. That step is much more complex in an organization with 500 employees, where each department has its own types of content and processes. The compliance requirements in various industries add another level of complexity.
The paperless office may seem beyond your reach today, but you can’t keep up with the competition if you continue using the same inefficient processes.
Following these three initial steps helps ensure success in the larger implementation process as you continue to build your paperless office. Categorizing content at the outset makes it easy to access your documents, automate business processes and delete information that’s no longer required by your compliance regulations as you manage the entire document lifecycle in an efficient digital environment.
Want to learn more about document management solutions for your business problems? Contact DocuWare today for a free consultation and your document management roadmap.