4 easy steps for businesses considering the cloud

Isn’t it ironic that with all of the technology advancements over the past 30 years, global paper consumption has gone up almost 50 percent?

For many businesses, it takes a crisis before realizing they have to move to a paperless solution.

As companies experience growth, they inevitably see an increase in paperwork and those who record transactions on paper and file them away in physical filing cabinets are creating a logistical nightmare for themselves.

Each time a client requests a copy of a file it can take employees up to 30-40 minutes just to track it down. Stop the paper chase.

Going paperless is not only more efficient, it allows companies to be more profitable.

After only a year of implementing a paperless system, most companies are able to take on 20 percent more business due to the time and space they’ve saved.

Here are the top four questions asked the most by small business owners seeking to go paperless.

1. Why should I take my business paperless?

Changing your office from a paper-based to a paperless enterprise creates efficiencies you haven’t been realizing to this point. Efficiencies that lead to higher profits such as less labor time in searching and retrieving client information as well as improved customer service due to quicker response time.

You can even avoid data breaches or identity theft by automatically restricting access to sensitive/confidential files and information.

There is still a prevalent assumption out there that for business transactions, a paper-based signed document is the only credible and legal proof of the relationship. The truth is, governments and businesses around the globe have embraced document management software and electronic copies of paper records for quite some time now. Only in the last several years has paperless technology become affordable for businesses of all sizes.

2. What exactly is the “Cloud” and why should I care?

Businesses can now choose between on-premise software, where you buy up front and load the software on your local PC or network, and subscription-payment Cloud solutions (where you just login into a browser to access your software and data).

The Cloud platform has the advantage of 24 / 7 accessibility, always having your data backed up, affordable monthly payments, and the ability to access data from any internet enabled device such as PC’s, laptops, tablets and smart phones.

The downside could be that internet access is always required for accessibility, however these days that shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Compare the Cloud platform to traditional on-premise software in which your software is under your complete control with all of the data residing on your local computer. The disadvantage of on-premise software is that you usually have to pay more for it up front and you are responsible for software updates, data backup, and the hardware on which it resides.

Many confuse document management Cloud solutions with simple file sharing and online-backup services. Online-backup solutions for small businesses include products like Mozy.com and Carbonite.com. Popular cloud based file sharing services include Dropbox.com and Box.com. Full document management services, however, include the functionality of all of these services plus much more. Companies that provide such features in this space include companies like FileNet.com, LaserFiche.com and of course eFileCabinet.com.

3. What is the key to going paperless?

Choosing the software, hardware, and platform that fits your office’s needs is only part of the equation. Equally important in going paperless is to change your behavior and improve upon the way you’ve always done things in the past.

Create one central repository where all of your company’s documents/files reside.

Require all paper documents to be scanned as soon as they come into your office or department. Be consistent in your descriptions and naming schemes so that you can easily find files when you search for them later.

Make sure all emails and their attachments are also stored and indexed.

Periodically inspect the workflow sequence so that best practice procedures are being followed. After these new office practices become part of your business DNA you will ask yourself why you didn’t start this process years ago.

4. How do I get started?

Choose your document management solution and then decide whether you want the delivery system to be Cloud-based or On-premise.

About 80 percent of what you put in your document management solution will be scanned pages.

You’ve got to make sure that you can digitize, or convert paper records into an electronic format, usually PDF, as quickly as possible.

While initially daunting, it’s actually very simple.

Matt Peterson is the CEO of Lehi, Utah, based eFileCabinet Inc.

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