Going paperless can be a daunting task at first. Especially when a large expense must be incurred. However, the long-term benefits of going paperless will definitely be more convenient, cost and time efficient.
Even though it may not be practical to simply remove your printer and ban paper, it is possible to notably reduce the use of paper. A paperless office in layman’s terms is to minimize the dependency on paper documentation by converting them into digital form.
What Is cloud-based storage?
Cloud-based storage is a way for individuals and businesses to store and retrieve data securely online, via an internet-connected device. Files are stored with the use of a cloud service provider for on-demand access from any location. Three examples of cloud computing services are Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.
Cloud storage can also be used to archive data that requires long-term storage but does not need to be accessed frequently, such as certain financial records. Increasingly, files stored “in the cloud” have enabled people to share and collaborate on documentation and information remotely, without having to hop in the car and drop off a file at their house.
So what are the organisational benefits of going paperless?
- Cost efficiency
By using cloud storage, an organisation can save a tremendous amount on the cost of paper, printers, ink toners, pens etc. Additionally, depending on the size and type of organisation, less office space is needed for employees who have started working remotely and less space is needed for the physical storage of files.
- Efficiency of employees
Cloud storage systems possess powerful search capabilities, helping employees to find documents easily and quickly. Employees spend less time on filing, sorting, and printing papers leading them to utilize their time more effectively. With the administrative time saved, employees can focus their energy on the tasks that add value to the company.
Through cloud storage you can set up permission rights, only allowing certain individuals in an organisation access to selected documentation. This prohibits unauthorized access to confidential documentation – this is especially important with the introduction of the POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act.
- Backup files
Cloud storage service providers save your data to more than one server ensuring that even when one crashes, nothing gets lost. These systems also keep your documents secure from damage and destruction by the elements (fire or water), as well as from theft. Cloud storage also offers an audit trail, to see who within your organisation might have viewed, changed, updated, or copied certain documentation.
- Convenience of file sharing
The need to be physically present for access to information and documentation has reduced rapidly within the last decade – a great advantage especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where distancing yourself from other people is strongly encouraged. Files can be transferred, shared and accessed from anywhere and employees can collaborate in real-time, thus ensuring that a situation where fourteen copies of a document does not exist.
It has also become standard practice for documents to be e-signed using online tools such as DocuSign. The days of having to courier documentation to signatories to make a small scribble are on their way out. In most cases e-signatures are considered binding, but there are rare cases where it is not, so be sure to double check before going ahead.
How to Implement a Paperless Office:
- Start with a comprehensive assessment
It is important to understand a process before it can be changed. First, identify the areas where paper is used within the organisation.
- Develop a strategy for improvement
Decide in which departments to make the change in first. Some employees are reluctant to change and will need time to adapt to a more technological environment. Thus, start off with a strategy of limiting the number of prints per person or moving the printers away to make it inconvenient to quickly go and print.
- Get employees on board
Ensure that employees are aware of the reasons and benefits for changing the process moving forward. If they can understand the long-term goal, they will most likely get on board. It is however important to listen to their concerns and explain how the new process will address those concerns.
Organisations using cloud computing must also conduct regular training sessions for their employees to ensure they grasp the basic concepts of cloud storage, the functionalities and the inherent risks associated with the new capabilities. Introducing cloud computing into the organisation should be gradual and not immediate – older employees may be more resistant to changes in technology. A gradual approach gives those reluctant employees time to adjust and gain trust in the technology and its benefits.
- Analyse your results
After the transformation to cloud computing is implemented, analyse where it has improved your business. This will also help to determine where the process could be enhanced further for even greater productivity improvement.
Wauko operates almost entirely in the cloud. When the first COVID-19 lockdown hit in March 2020, our teams simply picked up their chair and any additional computer screens they needed, went home, connected to the internet and continued working. A seamless transition!