Clean Up Australia found that the average office worker throws away 50kg of high-grade paper each year – that's roughly 10,000 A4 sheets. As a country, Australia sends 1.9 million tons of paper to landfill each year.
If that isn't incentive enough to work towards a paperless office, digital documents are far easier to manage than their paper equivalents. Anyone who has worked in an office, particularly in a paper-heavy industry like accounting, will know the struggle of not being able to find the piece of paper they had in their hand the other day amongst the piles.
Digitizing your documents means more time working productively and less time sifting through stacks of paper. Plus, once you get rid of printing expenses such as the cost of paper, ink, printers, and servicing, you're bound to be saving a whole lot of money.
Going paperless isn't something that happens overnight. The most time-consuming step is scanning existing paperwork and saving them as digital documents. It's crucial to file them in a way so they can be found easily in the future – which leads us to workflow number one.
Use batch OCR software to make scanned files searchable
Once you have scanned paper files into your document or practice management system, you need to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to make them text-searchable. Otherwise, they can't be found using search and will end up adrift within your repository never to be seen again.
Making these scanned files text-searchable means you can find related client files quickly and easily and ensure compliance with auditing systems.
An OCR tool like contentCrawler that can process huge numbers of files in batches is your best bet. An OCR application should run in the background 24/7 so that once the administrator has set it up it will sift through files and OCR where necessary without any disruption to the user. An OCR tool with a compression module can also reduce file size so you save on storage space and associated costs.
Switch to electronic signatures
Using electronic signatures saves paper and speeds up the review and approval process. Upload a picture of your signature to pdfDocs, for example, and apply it to a page as a stamp in only three clicks.
Electronic signatures mean you don't have to print out, sign, and scan a contract as part of the workflow. It also means that the approver doesn't have to be in the office or have access to a printer or scanner. They can apply their electronic signature from their device and email it back.
Review documents digitally
Keeping the editing processes completely digital means you save on paper and on time. Rather than printing out a document to proofread and mark up with a red pen, use Track Changes in Word or in-text editing and commenting in pdfDocs to review it.
If a colleague forgets to turn on Track Changes, a document comparison tool can produce a report that highlights even the most minor change between versions in the approval process. compareDocs can output the report to a working Word document so you can review and apply changes to the document in real time.
Going paperless may seem like a daunting prospect at first, but the right software can make it easier. Enjoy a better environment both at work and out in the world.
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