Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you implement the paperless office, the main thing is to get there. Once you reach the paperless office, you are much more flexible, more productive and have more time for the essentials. In all areas.
Advantages of a paperless office
The paperless office has some essential advantages, which I would like to mention here:
Sustainability (reducing printing costs, etc. – better for the environment)
More efficient time management through productive work
Collaborative work with multiple people or teams
Space and material savings
Central filing in digital form – anyone can access from anywhere or can be assigned corresponding rights
Search function enables quick retrieval of documents (effective time management)
Future and competitiveness
Each department becomes more productive, thus the entire company
Yes, if we are talking about advantages in this case, I must also point out the disadvantages a little. There is no doubt that this is the case. These are similar to the paper-minimised office.
Disadvantages of the paperless office
A disadvantage is certainly the introduction of the paperless office. This first phase is usually bumpy or takes longer than one would like, depending on the complexity and size of the company. Therefore a good planning is the be-all and end-all.
The “fish stinks of the head” – the conversion must take place top down compellingly. The boss has to set an example and then the employees have to be taken along successively.
The paperless office requires a certain discipline and the courage to change. This is sometimes more difficult than you think and requires good communication within the company.
The advantages outweigh the disadvantages and especially in today’s world you have to be more flexible and work more productively. Time is money and often it fails due to limited resources, which is why a process, a contract work, a service or whatever, cannot be implemented on time at the customer.
Organization of the paperless office
Once the decision has been taken to implement the paperless office, the question of how implementation should ultimately be implemented must be answered. The start is simple – the boss, i.e. start with the topic, exemplify it and argue to the employees why this step is meaningful and necessary for you and for the whole company.
If you are already “practicing” the paper-minimized office, the road to a paperless office is not far away. It must be analysed which sources and areas in the company have not yet been digitally recorded. Here, too, the following sequence applies, as in the case of the paper-minimised office:
Current status (inventory of all paper waste and in which areas)
Define target status
Tools are an important tool so that this can actually work with the paperless office. They help to work more productively, to be able to react more flexibly and – if necessary – always have mobile access to all important documents. However, when it comes to tools, it has to be said that there is no tool set here. This can vary depending on the size or industry of the company. Today, however, I would like to show you how I have implemented the paperless office in my company or with customers.
Cloud system as the foundation for the paperless office
If you want your data to be accessible centrally and, in particular, on the move, you should choose one of the many cloud systems. In my opinion, the issue of data encryption, which is always a sensitive one, has been solved very well and the various providers – at least the big ones – take it very seriously. Dropbox is my cloud provider here, which takes a very close look at the subject of encryption and I can be absolutely sure that my data is safe. To ensure that this remains the case, a few security precautions need to be taken when assigning rights or choosing passwords.
The main advantage of the Dropbox is that it is often used in other software tools as a placeholder in cloud systems with an interface, so that the linking and exchange of data can be implemented flawlessly.
Advantages of the Dropbox summarized for me:
Dropbox because ..
Central storage for data
Many plugins that can be linked to the dropbox
Simple, intuitive work
Virtual hard disk on the computer
Mobile, data retrievable from anywhere
So also mobile office
Gives different tariffs, so that you can scale it too
The further step towards digitalisation
An equally important step is the selection of the right document scanner. Here, one should not save at the wrong end. I myself use the Fujitsu Scan Snap, but in the Evernote Edition. This device is not only very fast, can scan both sides, but can also be used centrally via WLAN and add data directly into the dropbox, for example.
Digitize letter post
A further step in the paperless office is the digitisation of letter mail. A “necessary evil” for most companies, which is important when it comes to paperless offices. Depending on the effort and resources involved, letter mail can of course be digitised in-house and then processed further. An alternative is that the letter post is scanned by service providers and then made directly available for further processing.
Digital calendars, collaborative work and mobile use
With the G-Suite, Google offers a service where you can not only manage different calendars with approvals for the different teams and members, you also get your own “virtual mail server” where I can use my own domain with the technology of Google.
In addition, there is a great tool set with docs, spreadsheets, etc. to use word processing or spreadsheets, similar to Microsoft with Office 365 Word or Excel it offers.
With Google, you can work collaboratively with docs, spreadsheets, etc., i.e. you can see in real time what the other is changing or typing. A more productive way of working on a common skill or a calculation is therefore possible. On a paperless office basis, no printout of intermediate results is necessary, since everyone has the document or the spreadsheet open on the screen. This also saves time and paper.
The rights management is a really great thing, which not only affects the calendar function, but also the other tools in the G-Suite, the documents or calculations can be freely assigned at any time. If you want, you can also make use of plenty of cloud storage when using G-Suite, which, by the way, is available for less than 5 EUR per user. Not a must, but possible.
The Digital Brain in the Company
In all areas of a company there are important things to grasp. In most cases it is nowadays the case that things are printed out or converted into paper form. For example, if you see an interesting article on the web or in a print magazine, the page of the magazine will be torn out, or the link somehow stored or the text printed. But it’s much easier if you can copy the article directly into a tool at the push of a button, without any frills (advertising or anything else on the website), which in my case is called Evernote. In addition, I can take a photo of an article from a trade magazine via smartphone or tablet and integrate it into Evernote. The software can also be used in different depths and for different purposes. For example, in Evernote, I store my meeting papers. With the full text search, I can easily search the PDF file and find the information I’m looking for quickly and easily, even after years or months. That saves a lot of time.
So how to use Evernote – in summary
Evernote Digital Brain
e.g. scanning / photographing print ads, professional articles, etc.
Invoices / receipts are recognized directly via OTC software and assigned to predefined folders.
Digital folders / files can be implemented, e.g. personnel files, insurance archives, etc.
Digital notes, can also be used and released in a team.
Employee information, guidelines, e.g. when new employees join the company.
Full text search in text, PDF, Word or other files help to find the data quickly and directly.
Communication in the paperless office
Not so trivial. I experience it again and again in practice with my customers that information with yellow notes or other instructions is passed on in paper form and employees are delegated.
Here, for example, there is the possibility of establishing a communication tool in the company – a messenger system. You can also transfer files centrally via the system and also assign important instructions directly to the teams, the company. Much better than e-mail communication. Such a tool also saves time, money and paper. I use Slack in my company, others like to use Skype or Asana.
Digital Notes – the replacement for my handwritten notes?
What has happened here has become simply ingenious. I tested an iPad with a pen many years ago and the programs didn’t really understand where the pen or my resting hand is. No clean and effective writing on the tablet was possible.
This time has fortunately changed. At the latest since Apple has offered with the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil a hardware that works so well in combination with the right notes app that I no longer have a notepad in meetings or customer appointments. Besides the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, I use the notes app “Goodnotes”. I can use different categories in the app, I can convert handwritten notes directly in the app into machine language or export the notes as PDF and then send or upload them via email, dropbox or any other tool. Simply ingenious or?
8 tips to make sure the paperless office really works.
Ultimately, the aim is to digitize a wide variety of documents, such as contracts, notes, booking documents, business cards, delivery notes, incoming invoices, i.e. everything that is on paper. Communication is also a relevant partner in the paperless office. By the way, you don’t have to worry about the law. The legislator has paved the way for the paperless office, so it can now be implemented in reality. To ensure that the “paperless office” project can actually be implemented, I have brought along 8 tips that you should definitely follow.
Tip No. 1 – Documents in the Cloud
If you want to take full advantage of the paperless office, you should manage your documents centrally in the cloud. I have already explained the Cloud System to you. Dropbox & Co. are the right partners here. When it comes to security, providers do everything they can to ensure that data is secure. In general, there is no system that offers 100% security.
Tip no. 2 – Capture status
When dealing with the topic, you should make a very thorough inventory over several days, weeks if necessary, so that every paper or document is really recorded. It is always important to record both sides – incoming documents and outgoing documents. Even internal protocols or notes no longer have to be recorded on paper.
Tip no. 3 – Stay consistent
The beginning is difficult, processes are new and you always fall into old patterns and want to print out incoming invoices and other documents. If you want to process papers, you should cut off documents as PDF files. Programs such as Evernote make it possible to search in PDF files, word documents and other formats due to the full text search. Imagine you are looking for notes of a meeting. In the file folder it takes forever, digitally one must search simply for a topic or a keyword and one receives the result, and even location-independently. Isn’t that ingenious?
Tip No. 4 – Design documents digitally
There are always situations in the company where you can’t really do without paper. Whether it’s notes of meetings, time sheets in the craft business or other documents that are used or distributed in printed form in the company. Try to capture the documents directly digitally. Anyone who writes the notes of a meeting can do so directly on a laptop or use the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil incl. Goodnotes App, for example. In a paperless office, no one has to print out out outgoing invoices, sign them, put them in envelopes, frank them and take them to the post office. Invoices are created as PDFs in the company’s own design and sent to customers by e-mail. Depending on the software solution used, the due dates are then monitored, reminders initiated, receivables posted and open items cleared.
Tip no. 5 – The document scanner is crucial
Anyone who wants to implement the paperless office should not save on one of the most important facets of the paperless office. A desktop scanner is beautiful, but not efficient. I myself use the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 document scanner in the Evernote Edition. But even so, the scanner is cheap and target-oriented. Different document types are recognized.
Tip no. 6 – Burning documents consistently
If you’re looking for paper in folders, you know what I’m talking about when I say you’re looking for a needle in a haystack when you’re looking for a certain document. Similarly, but not quite so badly, it is also, with digital documents that are not properly named. Although there are other possibilities here, as there are full text searches, the naming of the file is still an important step in dealing with the paperless office. Think about a system, which fits for all ranges or differentiates the file names after ranges. Accounting gets a different initial abbreviation than Marketing or another department.
Tip no. 7 – Folder structure
At least as important is a well thought out folder structure, so that you can quickly get to the desired information in the folder. The subdivision into main folder and subfolder makes sense, whereby the depth of the subfolders should not be too deep from experience, as otherwise a contrary effect can occur and you also have to search too long.
Tip no. 8 – The paperless office becomes reality
With fast scanners and/or a smartphone camera, every document is quickly captured and digitized. In combination with office or industry programs, the digital document can be managed and processed quickly, securely and without media discontinuity. In this way, the paperless office saves a lot of time, work and, above all, money. It increases quality. This makes it a real competitive factor in today’s increasingly dense work environment, which every company should use.
Anyone who implements the paperless office will inevitably also have to deal with digital bookkeeping. However, the implementation is very simple if you are in the business – because ultimately all areas in the company must be implemented without paper and centrally managed – including accounting.
Mobile work and the paperless office
When I travel a lot, I don’t need folders or documents anymore. Here I use my latest generation iPad Pro in combination with the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and the new Smartkeyboard Folio keyboard.
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DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION EXPERT
Hi, my name is Eduard and I am engaged in the digital transformation of companies and the associated optimization.
It is time that we bring the old-established companies from the 90s into the 21st century and equip them for the future.
My mission is to pave the way for companies and to provide successful impulses for the further development of business processes.