How to Go Paperless in a Modern Business Environment

These tips, tricks, and tools will help you move your business from wasteful paper to a sleek paperless environment

It’s no secret: Research shows paperless companies save on space, materials, and labor. Digital documents have no physical footprint. They can cost almost nothing to generate and use. They can even speed up workflows, making employees more efficient and productive.

If your company has yet to achieve a paperless environment, switching over can be intimidating. It requires building a new, intuitive system that still meets retention needs. Luckily, there are many tools and strategies you can use to ease the transition. And on the other side, you may find your business more efficient and more secure. Read this guide to learn how to go paperless with minimal friction.

Ready to ditch paper clutter and embrace a digital workflow? Read this guide to going paperless to learn the benefits of swapping, plus the strategies and tools you need to streamline your work life.

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Tools for converting to a paperless office

If you’re wondering how to go paperless at work, you may benefit from acquiring a few tools first. These don’t just aim to help digitize physical documents. They can also solve hurdles introduced by digitization, maintain organization, and streamline workflows.

High-powered scanner

Your business likely takes in a large volume of physical documents. These need to make their way into digital storage. A high-powered scanner serves as your first line of defense against incoming papers. The more physical documents you receive, the more powerful a scanner you may need.

Once a physical document has been digitized, best practices sometimes demand the original be destroyed. That’s why it’s essential to use a powerful shredder.

Cloud storage

As digital documents grow in number, so does the storage capacity required to house them. Although physical storage devices allow for control over storage conditions, they can create an inconvenient physical footprint. They are often expensive to install and maintain. Failure to maintain them or provide adequate security can risk compliance lapses.

Cloud storage provides a spacious, flexible, affordable, and secure alternative. Vendors such as Google Cloud and DropBox can ease your storage burdens.

Document management systems (DMS)

help keep your documents organized. They form a central repository of information. This helps workers know where to find their documents, collaborate on them, and share them. A DMS also maintains them for as long as regulations require. Security protocols such as user permissions and encryption ensure info stays safe. Advanced features such as automation can accelerate workflows and avoid human error.

Hyland Software and Kofax are two leading DMS providers, but there are many options.

Did You Know?:The fi-8170 can scan up to 70 pages per minute and 10,000 pages per day. Click here to learn more.

E-signature tools

To ensure every step in the workflow is digital, you’ll need software that can apply signatures. Some document management systems incorporate this feature. Dedicated options include Adobe Acrobat Reader and DocuSign.

How to go paperless

The process of how to go paperless will vary for every business. Some parts of your workflow may already be digital. Others may lag behind. No matter how far into converting to a paperless office you find yourself, this process should help. It aims to identify all your physical paper uses and guide you toward new digital solutions.

Map digital solutions to current paper workflows

The first step in converting to a paperless office is to consider your current document management plan. Identify everywhere paper enters the office. At each entry point, determine whether to apply a digital solution such as time-tracking software or digital invoicing. These can ease the shift away from paper.

Now design a new document management plan. Wherever possible, take a going-forward approach. Don’t let a backlog of paper documents dissuade you from becoming a paperless company. If new paper can’t be avoided, build scanning into the intake process. Scan all documents upon receipt. When you have a handle on incoming documents, use downtime to chip away at your paper backlog. This gentler transition can help minimize business disruptions.

Physical copies should be shredded or placed in storage to prevent confusion. Aim to scan documents directly into your cloud storage or DMS. You should also generate new documents within your storage environment or DMS. This lets you take advantage of templates and automation that can make processes fast and replicable. Less human error means less wasted time.

Incorporate digital document sharing infrastructure

One central advantage of cloud storage and a DMS is the ease of sharing. Files uploaded to the system can be made instantly available to teammates. That powers rapid collaboration, enhancing productivity. Many DMS and cloud storage solutions also allow for simultaneous editing. This unlocks further productivity gains.

These sharing functions can extend outside your business to partners and clients. When outside stakeholders see the ease and speed of digital workflows, they may opt to move further away from paper documents.

Maintain digital organization

Knowing how to go paperless won’t solve all your organizing problems. It’s still important to file documents in an intuitive fashion. Doing so speeds up retrieval, sharing, and overall productivity. When designing your organizational schema, consider starting at higher-level projects. Then nest more folders of increasing specificity. Documents themselves should be stored in the deepest applicable folder.

Many storage solutions allow you to tag documents with important metadata. This includes information such as date of creation and title by default. It can extend to include the associated project, client names, location, and many other types of data. During document generation, use these features to power indexing and search. This further speeds up workflows.

To ensure data remains secure, use features such as user permissions and data encryption. These can prevent information from ending up in the wrong hands. That maintains compliance and your business’s reputation. Automatic audit trails and version control also reinforce security by tracking who changes what and allowing you to roll back unwanted changes.

Whatever organizational system you use, train employees on it. The better they understand it, the more likely they are to maintain it correctly.

Did You Know?:The fi-7300NX securely scans your data to cloud locations with a touch of a button. Click here to learn more.

Our recommendation: fi Series Scanners

Those wondering how to go paperless have no shortage of options. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our professional grade fi Series scanners.

Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, fi and SP scanners are capable of processing tens of thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. Their intuitive integration capabilities with all existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come.

We built the fi-7300NX to slot into any workflow. Its intuitive touch-screen display makes it easy to operate, even for those new to scanning. It can use Wi-Fi or wired connections, making it highly flexible. It's also compatible with a wide range of scanning software solutions, and can send up to 60 pages per minute directly to the cloud. That's an expected daily volume of 9,000 scanned sheets. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.

Note: Information and external links are provided for your convenience and for educational purposes only, and shall not be construed, or relied upon, as legal advice. PFU America, Inc. makes no representations about the contents, features, or specifications on such third-party sites, software, and/or offerings (collectively “Third-Party Offerings”) and shall not be responsible for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of such Third-Party Offerings. Please consult with a licensed attorney regarding your specific situation as regulations may be subject to change.