So we all know that we have to save the trees and that it’s a good thing to cut down on paper waste, right? But let’s be honest—that’s not why we’re storing and managing all of our information from our hard drives and in the Cloud. What’s the real reason? It makes life easier, personally and at work. Hard documents can be lost, easily damaged, and they take up a ton of physical space. It’s also easier to stay organized, and the benefits don’t end there. What happens when you have stacks upon stacks, files upon files in cabinets all over your office? Someone has to keep it all straight and make sure everything is in the appropriate place, and that can require more time than you can give, executed by your valuable staff who would be far more useful doing more productive things.
Cut the Clutter
Cloud-based tools and computer storage virtually does away with the concept of the “storage room”. There’s really no need for it anymore, and how many times has even your own office become a catch-all for surplus file storage? On top of that, all these files have to be maintained. It’s unnecessary, for example, to save tax documents over 3 years old, and the records for customers that are long since gone should not be taking up space in your office anymore. Your secretary, if he or she is doing their job, probably doesn’t have time to keep all of those records in order; it simply takes up too much valuable time to perpetually sift through files and decide what needs to be shredded.
Serve Customers More Expeditiously
Say you take a call from a customer, and even though you’re already incredibly busy today, you pick up the phone because you’re a responsible and conscientious business owner, right? Of course you are. Let’s say this particular customer has been with you for a long time, so you don’t mind looking up their billing history for the past 6 months, which they are asking you to furnish for them now. If you’re still living in the dark ages of filing cabinets and manila folders (which is still good for backup purposes), then this phone call just got a lot more complicated. Now you or a member of your staff will have to take time out of a busy day to pull the customer’s file, extract all pertinent billing documents, copy each document, and snail mail it to your, hopefully, patient client. Worse yet, if this person wants virtual copies of each bill, then you’ll have to scan each document, save them to your computer, and then attach the files to probably multiple emails.
Spare Yourself the Frustration
Of course, this scenario is exaggerated for effect, but it’s not really that far off for a lot of businesses who simply do not have infrastructure set up to manage customer records with the use of software and cloud-based organizational tools. If you did have the proper infrastructure, all you would have to do to serve the aforementioned customer would be to pull up their billing records from your hard drive or external servers, put it all into a zipped file, and send it over. If you’re really fancy, you might already have an online platform which allows customers to view and download billing information right from your website—now that’s productivity!
Bonus: Check out our article “Google Apps vs. Office 365: Which Is Right For Your Business?”
Don’t Squander Your Resources
You hired the members of your team to do what you hired them to do, not to constantly organize a mountain of paper files. It used to be an unfortunate consequence of our lack of technology, but that isn’t the case anymore. The truth is that, even if you don’t realize it, all that paper requires a lot of man hours to maintain.
Send and Receive Correspondence Online
In addition to data storage, other information like invoices, checks, mailings, and even payroll documentation can be transmitted online. Most people actually prefer to view and interact with correspondence online, where they can download documents quickly, and get it out of the way. It saves time and energy for you, as well as your clients.
Online Backup Tools
Though many business owners still feel more secure storing backup files in hard copy, under lock and key, there is always online backup. As web-based data storage technology continually advances, more and more businesses are turning to companies like IDrive and Carbonite (there are many, many more) to secure their information in the Cloud. With the use of these tools, you can have working data on-site while enjoying peace of mind, knowing that if your hard drive crashes, there is always a secure backup off-site.
A Final Thought
There are many advantages to going paperless; however, some critics believe that we are headed in a dangerous direction. We are storing more and more of our information on servers all over the world. So what happens if all those servers crashed, or were destroyed? It’s an interesting and alarming thought: If there are no hard copies, a great deal of our personal data, and even our history would be completely wiped out. All of the available web-based tools are of huge benefit to businesses and a testament to the advancement of society, but we should also keep in mind that there may still be some merit to the old ways.
Here’s another post with 5 extra tips for keeping productivity high and waste down:
5 Helpful Tips for Running a Clean, Productive Business