Document problems are rife in modern businesses. They’ve been rife in pretty much any sort of business throughout history; they’ve always had a lot of paperwork to deal with. Of course, our reliance on paper seems to be reducing all the time. It may seem absurd that we’re even dealing with physical documents anymore, right?
Well, the reports of paper’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Though the paperless office has been predicted many times over the last few decades, it’s starting to become clear that this will probably remain nothing more than a fantasy.
At the end of the day, having paper copies of documents – letters, financial records, reports, etc. – isn’t exactly a bad thing. It’s much more reassuring to see a signature on a piece of paper than it is to see a digital one. And there’s always much to be said for having the original copy of anything. But when documents start to pile up – as they inevitably will – problems will start to arise.
Paper documents take up a lot of room. They turn into clutter, basically. They can also be incredibly awkward to search through. When you’ve got things digitally, you can just hit CTRL+F and search for a particular title or even keyword. The documents containing those elements will light up like Christmas. Paper use also costs more money than you might think. They’re also much more exposed to physical damage; when your information is material and you don’t have a digital copy of it, then a fire or a flood could destroy something important for good.
See how we’ve gone through a bunch of potential problems with paper documents without once mentioning the environment? Everyone tends to assume the only problem is with the trees that get destroyed in order to make paper – but that can often be the least of your worries. (Besides, though you should keep it in mind, the environmental impact of paper creation and use is greatly exaggerated, because it’s very sustainable in ways that few other elements are.)
So how do you go about digitization? The first thing you want to do is find out where you can afford to go digital and then simply use the digital solution from hereon out. You can use Google Drive to make word documents and spreadsheets for unlimited edit and sharing; you can find dead simple templates for customer invoices that you can send via email; you can get WiFi pens that allow you to create authentic digital signatures. Solutions like this are among the best routes you can take going forward.
But what about all the documents you already have? How do you go about digitizing them? A lot of businesses skip this part simply because it’s a very time-consuming process. Thankfully, it’s something you can outsource if you don’t have the time, manpower, or if you’ve only got one scanner in your office. You can hire a company to take away all those boxes of documents, scan them all, then upload them online or send them to you as offline PDFs. Unexciting work to be sure – which is precisely why you should hire others to do it!