Information Sysetems Associates
Information Systems Associates
Paperless office   
virtues of reducing paper ....

Start With A Paperless Office

Small Businesses administrative costs regarding paper processing exceeds the expectations of almost all small business owners. A paperless office is 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 documentation and information sharing easier, keep personal information more secure, and help the environment. With the emergence of Cloud Computing, the concept can be extended to communications outside the office as well.
1. Get a scanner.

Your photocopier doesn’t count. Neither does the multifunction (printer/scanner/fax) device sitting out by your desk. Why? Because if you have to go somewhere other than an arm’s length away from your desk or computer, you’ll put the papers in pile, genuinely meaning to go scan them. And they’ll stay there until the pile gets high enough to either fall or get in your way; in which case, you’ll put them away and promise yourself to try this again sometime later. In this case, “sometime” never really comes.

Note: Once you’ve been bitten by the scanning bug, those photocopiers that have network functionality will become your favorite scanners, because they are so fast. But in the beginning, their lack of proximity will be a source of inertia that impedes your start. So until you’re up and running, they don’t count. Warning: the multifunction devices that have scanners on them that are typically so slow at scanning that you’ll give up on trying to become paperless.

If you don’t already have a higher speed scanner at your desk, there is no valid excuse for not getting one given the operational costs they save. Scanners are available that scan at rates of 20 or more pages per minute, and scan both sides of the page at the same time. Scanner Vendors (Amazon, Fujitsu, Canon, etc.) will sell you one for $430 or so, and it will come with a full version of Adobe’s Acrobat software.

There are lots of alternatives to Acrobat for managing PDFs on both Windows and Macintosh. Some of them are very good. None of them are excellent. The chief complaint about Acrobat is that it costs about $400. So buying a bundled deal is bargain: either the scanner or the Acrobat software is free with most bundled deals. Take your pick and be happy. Even if your labor cost is $35 an hour, less than 30 hours of work will pay for something you will rapidly come to love.

2. Start easy. But start tomorrow!

Start with the next new task you have. Tell yourself that everything that comes in to your business will be scanned. Now that you have your scanner, it’s a piece of cake.

3. Skip that big beast of a file.

There’s no rule that says if you want to migrate to a largely digital business that everything you already have must join you there overnight. There are no deadlines to be met for your transition. Once tomorrow comes and you’ve started, you can already start to enjoy the benefits of the digital business. That will provide all the incentive you need to keep going. Don’t let (a) the specter of some horribly large document file(s) and (b) the thought of "taking the time to organize it first" stop you from making the leap. It will. That big, ugly file will scare you out of starting, simply because it makes the task seem overwhelming.

No one says you have to do all (or any) of your existing documents. You will eventually reach the point that you’ll want to scan your existing files at a later date in a planned fashion. Just let it happen, and when you decide you want to scan the larger documents, then (and only then) do it.

4. Name digital "things" consistently.

There are lots of ways to name document files/ folders/ images with modern operating systems. The merits of the different approaches are extensive and reliable; they all have their merits. What you choose isn’t as important as the fact that you do choose something, stick with it, and make sure that your designates know and use the same approach. So whether you’re going to tag document files and put them in one giant directory (relying on the computer to find everything), use a folder hierarchy to replicate a paper file (e.g., "Inventory/Suppliers/'supplier name'") or name things with dates and names, it doesn’t really matter so long as everyone knows how to save and find things.


Note: In larger businesses, there’s probably already a naming convention or a document management system in place. Starting a new scanning initiative is easy. However, in small businesses, if you allow yourself to spend time deciding on a naming convention, you will use your indecision and your analysis process to paralyze your efforts to get started. Get started and establish your naming conventions later (but not too much later). Most operating systems these days are very robust and easily support change.

5. Tell someone what you've done.

This is a successful dieter’s secret. Once you’ve told other people what you’ve committed to, you’ll feel a sense of obligation to continue. And you’ll get continual reinforcement from those you’ve told as they ask you about your progress or visit your business and comment on the absence of the paper piles you used to have.

6. Take advantage of the benefits.

A digitized file is, with additional investments, available to you potentially everywhere (especially if your Cloud oriented). An iPad, Surface tablet, etc. can store a staggering amount of scanned data that you sync to it. If you invest in a smart phone and some sort of web-accessible storage (Cloud storage), you can access your file wirelessly from other places. Until you’ve experienced the confidence and satisfaction that comes from needing something in your file when you’re elsewhere and bringing it right up on a screen, you can’t fully appreciate one of the great benefits of doing this. And nothing beats quickly pulling up a document to show your customer what a product looks like or an invoice you need to analyze.

Information Systems Associates (ISABIZ®) offers small businesses
products and services that greatly enhance using paperless offices.

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