Paper is considered one of the cheapest and most portable means of carrying information. However, using paper documents has its drawbacks, namely that these can be damaged, destroyed, misfiled, and lost. There’s also the environment we must be concerned about. Paper production consumes countless trees and requires vast amounts of water.
Fortunately, going paperless — specifically discontinuing the use of paper documents — is a viable and sensible option for small- and medium-sized businesses because of the many digital technologies available today.
Here are ways that your business can avoid the drawbacks of using paper and become more cost-efficient and environment-friendly to boot:
1. Convert paper documents into digital format
This may be the most labor-intensive step into becoming paperless, though there are now document scanners that can digitize paper documents in bulk. Optical character recognition software can accurately turn printed text into editable electronic text and even retain the original document’s graphics and formatting, too.
Digitizing paper documents will allow you to name each file and add appropriate metadata so that these can be easy to find. You can also use electronic filing systems to better organize your records, as well as apply access controls so that only authorized personnel can view, edit, and/or share the documents.
2. Store digital documents in the cloud
Unless you have a soft copy of a document stored in your computer, losing a hard copy could mean losing the only copy available. This isn’t a problem when using electronic documents, provided that you store these in the cloud and implement the appropriate backup measures.
Additionally, making documents accessible in the cloud allows internet users to collaborate on those files at the same time, even if they’re currently in different locations. Obviously, this is impossible to do with paper documents.
3. Use e-signatures
Some business owners insist on using paper for legal documents such as contracts because they believe that digital documents can’t be signed. This is likely because they are not aware that digital documents can actually be signed with e-signatures. E-signatures are legally accepted; and there are many ways that you can sign documents digitally:
- Sign up for an online e-signature service
- Use a text editor with a feature that allows you to sign documents electronically
- Set up an internal process that lets you add your own digital signature
Other benefits of using e-signatures are that these are less susceptible to forgery, and that you can more easily organize and track which contracts and other documents you’ve already signed.
4. Use electronic bills payment services
Nowadays, you don’t have to send paper invoices or receive paper billing statements. Instead, you can just send electronic invoices and set up automated recurring charges for your customers. And for your billers, you can make one-time or scheduled payments via internet or mobile banking. You can also elect to receive other types of financial documentation exclusively electronically, such as fund performance reports, insurance policies, and the like.
5. Opt out of receiving junk mail
As its name suggests, junk mail goes straight to the trash bin, making it a literal waste of paper. To eliminate junk mail from your mailbox, you can directly contact the sender and request that they remove you from their mailing list. Alternatively, you can follow the instructions provided by the FTC.
Enjoying all the benefits of going paperless requires that you have all of your electronic documentation processes in proper working order. In this regard, let Founders Technology Group be of service. Drop us a line to learn more about how we can help you today.