Paper or Paperless? Which is better?

If you are like me, you still want to print the document so you can have it in front of you for whatever reason – call it security or call it not wanting to let go of the old to bring in the new.  Now mind you, there is nothing wrong with printing documents, especially if you have a plan in place to carefully control the life span of that document.  Going paperless is a wonderful thing and it can make your life seem so organized.  As in life there is a price to pay if you don’t do your homework.  Let’s explore both sides of the issue.  The US produces over 70 million tons of paper each year.  That is equivalent to the average weight of 9 million elephants.  The average office worker uses approximately 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year in the U
S.  The upside to that is we recycle 62% of that paper to produce tissue, paper towels and more paper so we don’t cut down more trees to produce more paper.   The electronic equivalent to paper documents is a PDF file and when stored properly, can be used by any user anywhere.  Going paperless will save you time, space and some say it is more secure.  A small company of ten or less employees can save around $10k per year by going paperless.  The downside t0 paperless is the computer hackers and server failure, but even with that the upside is tremendous.  So how do you go paperless?  First you evaluate what you need first.  How are you going to manage the electronic documents?  What are the compliance issues of electronic records?  How do I create a proper workflow?  For most companies, the answer is software. But like everything else, software is just a tool, and if it is not easy to understand and well written, simply buying and installing software will not make you compliant or organized.  So how do you start?  Well not to oversimplify the process, but you must look at your documents and classify your business activities.  This will assist the conduct of business and help in the management of records.  For example, how will you name each document if you have ten to twenty employees needing to use the same document?  How do you protect that document or template from being changed or copied by the wrong person?  How do you determine access to documents,especially human resource?  How do you want to distribute records for action – workflow? What are the compliance issues that surround this document?  How long do you keep them?

Once you determine all the answers to these questions, then it is time to look at software.  A good electronic document management software solution incorporates your classification and retention schedule structure into the software.  If you have an audit, it will allow you to search at light speed and find the documents you need for the auditor. It logs all activities to transaction logs so you can review activity and demonstrate, in the case of an audit, that policies and procedures were followed.   All this happens in the background, so that you have more time to devote to your job.

Organization is key, and if paperless is in your future, EDM software is definitely the way to go for the future of paperless offices.

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My staff and I had the pleasure of participating in an ADS Consulting Shredding & Storage Workshop in April 2011.As a new business, it was critical for us to get off to a good start. The workshop provided us with useful information and practical applications that helped us do that. The ‘hands on’ training experience we received in a successful, working document destruction and storage business environment was invaluable.Renee and her staff were very personable and helpful and continue to be valuable business partners to this day.I highly recommend the ADS Workshop to both new and existing businesses

Rob Giannini, C.O.O.Commonwealth ...