- Reducing the cost of operations by streamlining rapid records retrieval
- Increasing working productivity and efficiency
- Eliminating on and off-site storage of paper documents
- Protecting against potential litigation by ensuring documents consistently meet regulations
Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Here are 7 mistakes to avoid when going paperless.
1. Choosing a paperless solution too early. The mistake starts when a business owner buys a scanning solution or document management system without carefully understanding the real reason you want to get rid of your paper. As a result, the software doesn’t meet your needs and the problem isn’t properly addressed. Before you decide on a solution, it is important to understand its features, its advantages for your company along with its weaknesses or disadvantages.
Although we like to think purchasing off-the-shelf software and simply installing it is the answer, the software is only the tool – it’s the processes, definitions, and implementation that drive the system.
Suggestion: Sit down and perform a comprehensive needs assessment (why) and then define who, what, where, when and how you’ll go paperless.
2. Not including management/employees in your decision. This is a biggie. Not only should employees who will be turning the office paperless be involved in the planning process, but management needs to champion it. Explaining the time and money-saving benefits to both sides will go a long way in ensuring the project is adopted.
Suggestion: Pre-screen a few paperless solutions and then allow your staff to sit in on final demonstrations before buying. It will help build buy in for the entire paperless process AND give the people who will be using the software most the opportunity to troubleshoot before implementation.
3. Not mapping out a process for new paper and electronic documents: Many times, plans are made for the paper that is currently in the office or stored off-site, but you can’t forget to create processes that cover new paper AND electronic documents that come into your office after the document management system has been put into place.
Suggestion: Rollout the program only after the total design and parameters of the program have been defined, established and tested.
4. Rolling out the solution all at once: Attempting to go paperless in all departments or locations at the same time can be very problematic. Most businesses find that they gain additional experience and knowledge as they fine-tune their program during initial setup and use.
Suggestion: Start small. Find a beta department or group and start your paperless quest with them. Use their experiences to clarify and document best practices. Lessons learned in deployment in one department often pay dividends later during deployment in other departments.
5. Using the wrong scanner: For most document imaging applications, scanner speed is going to be important to the overall efficiency, but it really is just one of the things you should consider when selecting a document scanner. Paper size and thickness should also be highlighted. Be sure to speak with a knowledgeable consultant or scanner representative before purchasing.
Suggestion: Will you scan all of your old files? Only new paperwork coming in? Consider the amount of work that you’re trying to accomplish and make sure that the scanner has not only the appropriate speed capabilities, but also that it handles the daily volume and has the image enhancement technology that the project calls for.
6. Scanning everything: If you have a file room, multiple file cabinets or – worst-case scenario – off-site file storage, digitizing all of those documents can be overwhelming. You don’t have to scan everything, though. Start with the records you refer to most often and go from there.
Suggestion: Before you start scanning, go through files and remove staples, paper clips and duplicate documents. That will save you time when you decide you should start scanning.
7. Waiting for legal action against your company before figuring out how to protect and retain your paper files: Implementing a document management system can’t happen overnight. Companies now recognize that they must be proactive, not just to comply with legal requirements, but to be responsive and responsible to their customers, partners and staff. In addition, a proactive paperless program helps to increase efficiency and productivity, affecting financial as well as legal issues.
Suggestion: Stop reading and start researching! Find a scanning solution or document management system that makes sense for your company and start working on your paperless office. It is definitely a big task, but one that won’t get any easier by procrastinating.[sc:publicidad ]
Stephanie L. Jones, MBA eBridge Solutions sjones@eBridgeSolutions.com