It’s Time for Small Businesses to Go Paperless

Karen Schwartz

By now, small businesses are well aware of the risks of keeping records onsite. Growing piles of paper take up space, they aren’t secure, they are a drag on productivity and employees can’t find what they need quickly. Yet despite this knowledge, many small businesses still rely on paper and are reticent to go paperless. According to Small Business Trends, 60% of small businesses still keep their important files in filing cabinets.

So what is holding these businesses back from going paperless? Here are four common concerns:

1. People don’t like change. Chances are, your employees are used to paper processes and don’t want to learn something new. These concerns can be overcome with patience, training and choosing easy-to-use systems.

2. Decision-makers think digital document management is more expensive. Consider these statistics from The Paperless Project: Every 12 filing cabinets require an additional employee to maintain. Every misfiled document costs $125, and each lost document costs $350 to $700. Finding and retrieving information stored on paper also costs companies plenty; just think of how much time your employees spend searching for a specific document or trying to uncover lost information.

3. Owners worry that digital documents won’t meet compliance requirements. While it’s good practice to retain hard copies of important documents for several years, it’s a good idea to digitize them as a backup. And often today, electronic signatures are as valid as “wet signatures,” which makes digitization an even better option.

4. C-level executives are worried about security as they should be. But consider this: Are paper documents stored in filing cabinets truly secure? According to The Paperless Project, more than 70% of businesses “would fail within three weeks” if their documents were lost in a fire or flood. The key is finding a provider that uses secure practices for transferring paper to their location and digitization, as well as comprehensive security for the data centers that ultimately store the digitized data.

Choosing the right vendor is critical. In addition to evaluating a vendor to help you go paperless based on security, make sure the vendor can manage your digitization needs today and in the future — and also take care of past records.

The first step is getting your current documents and files imaged and stored effectively and securely. Your provider should be able to transport your documents to their facility, scan and index them, and then securely store them in their data center.

Next, take a look at your overstuffed file cabinets and target them for document imaging. Your vendor should be able to set up an efficient way to convert all of those documents to a digital format. The final step is setting up an ongoing process to digitize your documents as they are created or received.

When you go paperless, you get more than extra space and the satisfaction that you’ve helped the environment — you get a streamlined workflow that makes your organization more efficient and cost-effective. Most importantly, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your documents are safe, secure and always available when you need them.

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