For at least a decade now, we’ve all heard – repeatedly – that corporate America would soon be “going paperless.” On some level, we’ve all thought that the implications for a paperless office were resoundingly positive without taking too much time to contemplate the truth of the matter, much less taking too many steps to actually become paperless.
With that in mind, it’s instructive to ponder what exactly “going paperless” even means. Closer inspection reveals that the term has almost as many meanings as there are businesses. Regardless of what it means to you, what really matters is WHY. Why would you want to “go paperless?” If you no longer have those big file cabinets, or your desk is clear of paper, what have you accomplished? For most of us, any newly found space is just a cleaner office, or a place where you can put more stuff.
Going Paperless Isn’t Always All it’s Cracked Up to Be, But You Can Fix That
For many companies, it turns out that without a good process and good planning, your paper mess becomes an electronic mess. Your frustration will be even greater, because at least you know that somewhere on that crazy desk of yours, that document is there. If you put it on your company Z-drive, however, or some sort of software package, or in the almighty cloud, will almost always be much harder to find than sorting through the paper on your desk. Whether you spend $50 per month or $100,000 on software, without a process, and plan to facilitate that process, you would be better off taking your family on a nice vacation, or at least taking them out to dinner. It will surely result in less frustration.
It is important to identify the processes that are either costing you money, and the processes that are making you money. Often times, they are synonymous. Bringing in a consultant who doubles ass an expert of business processes is often a good first step toward implementing the right processes. While you may think your processes are solid, there’s always the possibility to make a good process better, just as much as making a bad process good.
The True Potential of Going Paperless
Now that the process is identified, where are the weaknesses/gaps/bottlenecks in the processes? Once those are vetted, brainstorm the possibilities for improvement. You may have noticed that we haven’t talked at all about technology. Now we have some ideas for improvement, how would these benefit our business in a tangible sense, like additional dollars to the bottom line, higher profit margins, and better customer retention. It’s very important to resist the siren song of arbitrary benefits like efficiency, less steps or less paper.
Now, let’s come up with a plan. Including key stakeholders becomes very, very important. Providing them with the reason the process is improving (not changing) and seeking their thoughts and input is key to gaining their buy in. That buy in will make implementation infinitely better, and make realizing the identified benefits much quicker. When will these processes be rolled out? Remember, it can’t happen next week, so start with the “go live” date, and work your way back. Depending on how significant the process is, if you have a busy season, and/or how many people are involved, it could be a month, or six months.
Once you finally have the who, what, where, when, why and how, we can talk about the technology. The technology used to facilitate the process (not the other way around) has to support all of the work that has already been done. Don’t get caught up in features that are “cool.” Having a mobile app could hardly be more meaningless if you don’t need access from a mobile device. Any features or benefits have to support your why. Your why is making your business better. If it doesn’t then that is a fringe benefit and something not worth paying money for.
Let Enoch Office Help You Create A Process
When you’re ready to get serious about going paperless, we are happy to hear from you. Visit our website to see the various office solutions and equipment we have to offer you. You can also contact us at 410.561.7600 or800.452.8560. Choose Enoch Office for all of your office solution needs, and experience the many reasons we earned this year’s KM service award!