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Making Your Agency Paperless

These days, it’s impossible for companies to function effectively without the use of technology. Everybody uses it for, well, everything, but especially for communication and research. But a lesser-known benefit of technology is its ability to make companies go paperless through online or software archive.

Categorize Your Files

A good scanner and a little research can go a long way. To start with, make sure that you buy a scanner from a reputable manufacturer for assurance that the product will have quality outputs and will last a long time. Collect all your documents and compile them into three categories: Keep, Throw and Junk. The Keep files are the most important; they’re files that companies needs original copies of. Throw files are also important, but you can actually do without an original. Junk means just that: Files that are junk. Scan the first two piles, keeping the originals in the Keep pile and tossing the originals in the Throw pile. You don’t need to scan or keep anything from the Junk pile.

Software Options to Go Paperless

Next, you’ll need software that can store all your documents. One of the most popular programs for personal use is Evernote. Evernote allows you to keep files in all the agency’s gadgets and access them anywhere, with or without the Internet. This program continues to gain popularity ever since it launched, and it keeps upgrading to meet clients’ needs. All you need to do is scan your files, save it to Evernote and tag it properly. The premium version also has a feature called Optical Character Recognition (OCR), so if you’re uncertain of the tags used, you can simply search for text in the document.

Digital File Archiving

For companies that want to push for digital archiving, there are businesses that specialize in digital archiving solutions, with Oracle being one of the most reputable ones. Digital archiving is particularly useful for bigger companies because the documents remain secure after the person who uploaded the files leave. Investing in digital archives and backup systems is very practical and helps run your business more effectively. You don't have to worry about your system crashing (or about an employee leaving and not turning over the files) because, depending on the system used, anybody can access the documents.

Digital archives may or may not have OCR, so it is also very important to create a file naming system that everyone will apply and easily understand. File naming is different from tagging because employees should be able to have a general idea of the content even with just the name. If done properly, looking for decades-old documents should be easy. For example, you should have a folder named “Project A” and a subfolder called “Permits and Licenses” where all content related to Project A will be stored. You can then name the document based on the agency that approved the permit and include the exact name of the permit.

Online Forms and E-signatures

To go completely paperless in your company, you also have to consider allowing for signing or approving documents online. Memos and applications have to go through approvals from different levels of management, which is time-consuming and inefficient. By allowing people to fill out forms online and provide e-signatures, you don’t have to route the document in hard copies where there’s a chance of it being overlooked or lost. In fact, there are now programs like Adobe EchoSign that allow you to e-sign so you don't have to go through the arduous task of routing papers to several locations.

Benefits of Going Paperless

If you’re currently relying on manual archiving, then you know how long it takes to search for a document without the certainty that you’re even looking at the correct pile. Going paperless has numerous benefits, including reducing clutter and saving time but, most importantly, guaranteeing the safety of the documents. These benefits definitely reduce stress, which in turn will increase productivity among your employees. Companies that were established before the onset of technology will definitely relate to the wasted time of locating documents manually.

  • Customer service: Aside from the comfort of going paperless, companies can actually use this innovation to build themselves up to their consumers. This is especially true for service providers that deal with clients regularly. They will understand how responding quickly to requests can garner positive feedback because this shows how important their client is to them. An example will be a utility provider that requires monthly billings to consumers. Instead of snail mail, it is actually more economical for the company to send a soft copy of the billing. More importantly, it is also convenient for the customers, because they can access it anytime, anywhere.

  • Going Green: Another bonus of going paperless is being able to market your company’s environmental and sustainable practices, namely cutting out the wasteful use of paper. By highlighting this “green” movement and its benefits, the business can show that it cares not only for the environment, but also for its customers.

Going paperless may sound intimidating at first because we’re used to the old-school way of filing. In reality, it only takes a few days or even hours to learn. Just make sure to implement it properly to make the most of its benefits.

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