Have you had that moment when you needed to print an important business document, just to find out that your printer is out of ink? Didn't you just replace the cartridge last month? Moving a business towards being paperless is more affordable and easier than ever before. It’s time for your company to finally make the switch and we're hear to give you the why and the how to do it.
Stop shredding dollar bills
Restocking printer supplies is a never-ending costly battle. Most notably, the sky-high price of printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids known to man -- printer ink is more expensive than champagne and human blood! (Wait, you can buy that?) With printer cartridges containing less and less ink for the same price, it’s sometimes cheaper to just buy a whole new printer. According to National Public Radio, “Printer ink is so expensive in order for printers to be so cheap.” Similar to the razor and blade industry, the markups on built-in obsolescent ink cartridges are where printer companies make the most money. Once a business buys a printer, you’re stuck buying or refilling the same set of cartridges.
If you’ve ever seen the recently ended, hilarious mockumentary The Office you know that paper is a big industry. It’s so big that in 2010, the United States alone produced 75,849 tons of paper. A study done by RISI marketing services shows that North Americans consume almost 30 times more paper per capita than the average person in Africa and 6 times more than the average person in Asia. That means that the United States and Canada (about five percent of the global population) consumed 17 percent of the world’s paper! That's a lot of trees. Which translates into a lot of dollars. Dunder Mifflin's slogan is "A paper company for a paperless world" -- need we say more?
Moving to a paperless office is a clear way to cut costs and helps your business be more efficient. While it may seem like a daunting task, going paperless is surprisingly both affordable and easily done. With services like Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive, a business can store all their documents safely in the cloud. No matter which service you choose, being able to backup and share files online is a smart move. Businesses can both save money and help reduce the strain on the environment by going paperless.
Now, us being humans that hate change and all, you will naturally see a pushback from your colleagues about the switch -- it does take change to evolve. Inc. start-up experts recommend setting deadlines, creating a well-thought-out timeline for each aspect of your business to cut out the paper. This also means that your company won't be halted by every department adapting to new software and procedures at the same time.
Win the war against wasted time
If you've ever spent hours hunting through stacks of paper for an important doc or dug through filing cabinets, you understand the frustrations of printed documents. The time saved by going paperless allows you to close deals faster and make your clients happier. We’ve talked before about the benefits of e-signatures. By not having to scan in countless pages and send faxes, a business can focus more on what they do best. And your clients can decide right in the moment to approve and comment on your contracts, not having to bungle through the process of downloading, printing, signing, scanning, uploading and sending it back to you. It makes you and your company look like they’ve really got their stuff together. Speech recognition also lessons the need to jot things down, and it and fingerprinting and retinal scans are joining electric signatures to make the old way seem, well, old.
Use going paperless as an opportunity to provide additional value to your customers. Treat the time saved as a competitive advantage that allows your business to get more done. By exchanging information electronically with vendors and customers, a business can make information quickly accessible. This is both convenient for your clients and an asset to everyone in your company.
Plus, going on a cloud, you can use tracking and notification features to let you peek right inside the recipients head, knowing what they’re looking at, when, and if they’ve signed off on it.
Safe and Secure
Switching to an electronic document management system increases security and creates consistency around the office. Going paperless provides a much higher level of security beyond printer paper. Using password protection at different levels limits the access to important information and allows for your employees to safely collaborate on documents. By creating private or encrypted files for clients and staff, getting that document signed can be both secure and up-to-date.
Many online paperless options allow for in-the-cloud access across numerous devices and platforms. For a business, this means enhanced collaboration and being able to respond more quickly to customer inquiries. Given the time zone and location differences that many growing companies face, anytime access to customer records is especially important. In a pure paper-based work environment, employees would have to physically be in an office to perform their duties.
Allows for company growth
No matter the size of your business, going paperless can aid in speeding up your workflow and can help your venture scale. Without the need to access physical documents, individuals can work out of coworking spaces without the worry of renting out an entire office. A small business can more effectively work with partners, suppliers, contractors and employees without needed to expand storage space to accommodate additional files.
As a company grows bigger, improved efficiencies and customer service become a top priority. The last thing a manager wants to worry about is making sure that the copy machine is working. (And have you ever thought about how much space copiers, scanners and printers take up?) Documents hosted in the cloud can seamlessly accessed and shared among teams, no matter how large. With tablets and laptops becoming more a norm in workplaces, having a cloud-based file sharing system in place are becoming employee and customers preference.
At larger businesses, both security and redundancy are important. Having a company-wide policy for document collaboration and an integrated system for sharing documents across an organization is a must. Large companies can go paperless from department to department by using Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that are secure, scalable, and affordable. No matter what field of business you operate in, a paperless office is the obvious solution for a modern company.
Save the trees! (And pandas and the ozone layer!)
The average officemate uses 10,000 pieces of paper a year. Really, with e-books and e-mail, treebooks and snailmail these numbers have become ridiculous. There's barely a need for paper nowadays and we have to do our part for the environment, too. It's becoming increasingly common that huge multinationals like Telefonica have become completely green offices -- like going paperless and using effective energy techniques like efficient lightbulbs and condensed work schedules. They tell the press it's for the earth, but really it's just a common cost-saving technique, too. However, your clients will respect your attention to detail and conscientiousness.
Ready to go paperless? I suggest starting with this great post from HowStuffWorks. There are many guides online depending on the size of your business. Do you already have paperless workplace? What are your tips or tricks on making the switch? Tell us what you do!