Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
Paper has nearly no place in modern business. It slows down work and makes it hard for people to work together. For most of the jobs that paper has to do, there’s a piece of software that can do the very same job. Upgrading from a paper-based system to a computer-based system can be daunting.
You’ll need to start with a computer system. You may only need one computer per staff member. But, for bigger operations, it may be worth investing in your own server systems as well. You can get the help of an IT consultant to make these decisions easier.
Once you have a computer system sorted, you need to start thinking about the ways that you use paper. How can you replace each process with something computerized? Once you’ve established this, you can start putting in place the new rules that help your staff to adjust. You may have to give some training at this stage if you use specialized software. For most documents, a system like Office 365 for Business will the do the trick. These systems allow you to create, store and share documents with all of your staff, as long as you all have access to the internet. This is a great benefit to any business that shares files. You can even work on documents at the same time as other people, seeing changes in real-time.
It will be hard to go between paper and computers until the paper items are no longer relevant. You might consider scanning the documents to make the transition easier. Proper document management software can change the way that you view these documents. Being able to search for them, using a variety of filters makes it much faster to find what you are looking for. While you won’t be able to edit a scanned document in the same way you can edit a text file, you will still be able to reference them. A good scanning system for paper documents can save hundreds of hours over the course of just a year.