Businesses and other organizations seeking to operate optimally within this new digital ecosystem are benefiting from – and contending with – a huge profusion of new technologies, striving to compete with their rivals in combative markets. This is often done by ‘pushing the envelope on efficiency by streamlining any process that could be made leaner and faster.
A key element in achieving those efficiencies is the rising tendency to go paperless.
In this article, we will explain some of the main ways that going paperless – a term that often has automation at the heart of its purpose – benefits businesses, large and small.
Improved accounting and document management
With growing options for payments accelerating every year, keeping on top of vendor money flows, bill creation, and issues like reconciliation and reporting have become a considerably more complicated task. Gone are the days when people made payments mostly with cash or check. In the internet age, different vendors may prefer different digital payment methods, from peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo to virtual cards to Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions.
That’s a lot of keyboard-pounding and paper-pushing to contend with.
Cutting-edge account payable software, however, provides an all-in-one solution for each of these laborious and time-consuming tasks, typically slashing a firm’s conventional paper-based processing time by 65%. With intelligent virtual assistants integral to the software, manual data entry is eliminated. Furthermore, all documentation becomes digitized, granting total visibility and traceability of all account points via centralized, electronic access to bills, approvals, payment status, posting, and audit trails.
Collaborative tools: the art of sharing knowledge between employees
Successful businesses need their employees to keep up with new developments, including up-to-date knowledge of new strategies. When key information is scrawled on multiple notecards and given the propensity of us mere humans to make errors, this system is just asking for trouble. The paper goes missing, ends up in the wrong hands, is easily destroyed, or accidentally stays in a busy employee’s briefcase instead of being conveyed to another colleague who needs to be promptly updated.
Digital collaboration tools solve all these paper-based glitches at a stroke, improving teamwork and facilitating efficient knowledge sharing with all the right parties. As Forbes noted recently: “Online tools let employees share documents, folders, and projects using an efficient system. Employees can collaborate in the cloud instead of waiting for co-workers to hand them paper files.”
Most businesses have had the mortifying experience of accidentally shredding or losing a crucial paper document before it has been copied or filed. Switching over to an electronic record-keeping system, however, ensures that such excruciatingly embarrassing (and dismayingly inconveniencing) mishaps never happen again. An electronic record system will automate the saving of multiple digital backups of the primary document, all of which can be securely saved to the cloud. And the backup process can be automatically scheduled, immediately removing the need for time-consuming and error-prone manual backups.
Electronic documents can satisfy the most cautious customers’ needs for privacy and security of their data thanks to top-tier e-signature software designed expressly with affordability for small businesses in mind.
This technology provides layers of security around client data that small businesses that have not made the transition to the paperless office can only envy. To put it mildly, this sophisticated digital security is a good deal more impregnable than a lockable metal filing cabinet. Electronic record storage systems often come with banking-level encryption security.
It’s also possible to give each employee access only to the specific information they need for their role. This is how a medical office, for example, can ensure that receptionists have very limited access to sensitive medical histories – while doctors have full access.
With data stored in a securely encrypted cloud system, even if your business premises are subject to a natural disaster like a flood or a fire, you won’t lose a single jot of crucial information.
Smaller businesses hesitating about the investment costs of the technology for a paperless operation can rest assured. Automated processes save on labour costs, time, and recurring office supplies like ink cartridges and paper, or upgrading fax, photocopying, or printing machines.
Recent findings have suggested that in the first six months of going paperless, 28% of the businesses reviewed in the study had secured a full return on their investment in the technology. An additional 59% had done so in under 12 months, while a huge 84% achieved this within 18 months.
Many businesses don’t make the full leap into a paperless environment in one single bound. They take a step-by-step approach instead, whereupon they see first-hand the savings and efficiencies this automating software can deliver.
And they tend not to look back.