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  • Writer's pictureJack Arnston

New Year's Resolution: Lose the Paper Weight

Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that we are celebrating the start of 2017. It seems that the older I get the faster time flies by. Now that we have all had our share of celebrating, bowl games and Winter Classics (for you hockey fans out there), it is time to make our New Year’s resolutions.

I think that we should begin with the same resolution many of us start with year after year – let’s lose the paper weight. Okay, so maybe I added the word paper to the phrase. But think about it, what is wrong with shedding, or shredding, a little paper weight. This is the perfect time to rid yourself of all that paper by scanning and saving it digitally, and then shredding it.

Image how nice it would be to have your paper files stored digitally, with access at your fingertips. No more file cabinets and banker’s boxes. Forget the annual purging of files to free up office space. No more boxing up files and moving them offsite.

And then there is the dreaded audit. Assembling all of the paper files for the auditor. Making room in your office for them to spread out and review your paper documents. Having to refile the paper when they are finished. Image finding those documents in seconds, because they were scanned and stored in a document management system. You just place the files in an electronic clipboard, give the auditor access and you’re done. No need to refile because everything is digital.

Okay, so I assume that you are going to agree that this makes sense. So, what is holding you back? Is it the perceived cost of a document management system? Is it the time that it will take to scan your backfile documents? Are you worried that the change will not be handled well by those in the office? Whatever the reason, rest assured that there are answers for all of them.

I cannot justify the cost of a document management system – the real question should be can you afford not to have a document management system. Studies have proven that the use of a document management system reduces the time to process documents by up to 50 percent. In addition, you no longer have lost documents, worry because you have no backup, are concerned over how secure your paper documents are and have no control over critical processes such as AP approvals.

It will take too much time to scan our backfile documents - scanning your backfile documents may be time consuming, but before you jump to any conclusions, here are a couple of things to think about. First, depending on the application, you may not need to scan your legacy documents. Take an AP solution as an example. Invoices and their associated documents have a relatively short shelf life. Although they need to be retained for seven years, once you get past the audit process they are typically never retrieved again. You should look to pick a date and scan day forward. In other words, only documents from that day forward are scanned. Now granted, some files, such as employee records need to be thoroughly scanned. For this there are reliable techniques, such as preprinted barcode sheets and database lookups, that help organizes the files and creates fast scanning with no data entry. There are many ways to automate the scanning of backfile documents which make the process easy to accomplish.

I am worried that my staff will not adjust to the change of digital documents – this is an old argument that used to have some weight. Back in the days before iPhones and tablets many people had a mistrust for digital images. Granted, even today some people may fight the process because it requires change. But I will tell you this. I have been deploying document management systems for over 20 years, and once people get through the first month of two of transition, they would never go back to using paper. Companies that do not adapt and change ultimately fail. Implementing document management will at a minimum allow you to stay competitive with your competition. Moreover, your clients now expect you to be using the technology so that you can quickly respond to their needs and inquiries.

Let’s put your fears to rest and begin the year by shedding your paper weight. Ultimately your employees will thank you as will your bottom line.

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