Finally we’re a 100% paperless office. A nice man came and took all my archives for bulk shredding yesterday. I’m now giving away so much stationery that I’ve accumulated over the years of three businesses.
Top tip with going paperless is to start TODAY as the old stuff will work its way out in 6 years and you can get it all securely shredded in bulk as we did. We didn’t waste time and money scanning paper just to archive it. The fact that we’ve never looked at them since shows that this was the right decision.
We scan anything coming in and save it in the appropriate client or admin file. We sign everything online and have Signable for anything that doesn’t get signed through our accounts/tax software.
I have no printer. In an emergency I can take a USB to my local post office and pay 50p per sheet. (It makes me laugh that ICAEW needed to approve my letterhead before granting my practising certificate.)
What’s holding you back from going paperless? Or have you already done it?
Both Hudson Business Advice and Minerva Accountants are paperless businesses. It feels great but, if you have a lot of paper in your business you may wish to start by becoming a less-paper business.
Look at all the ways that you handle paper in your business:
Paper in – can you get your clients to deal with you electronically through email, online portals and electronic forms etc. (Don’t forget to offer a telephone option). Ask suppliers to send their invoices electronically and use bank feeds instead of paper statements. We scan all incoming mail and file electronically.
Paper processing – try to replace paper with electronic systems as much as possible. Use workflow management software or even something simple like Trello to manage the processes in your business. Keep all your working papers electronically and look at the, on a second (or third) screen rather than printing them out. If your work involves going to site then use a laptop or other handheld devices to access your business software rather than carrying around piles of paper. Use client portals for sharing confidential documents. You can also use client portals for getting signatures or we use Signable software for ad hoc signatures.
Paper out – Use email and client portals to send information out. The only things that we send through the post are gifts.
Paper storage – You may use a DMS (document management system) or a series of folders on OneDrive or similar. If you have archives of paper information then it is rarely worth scanning these unless you are desperately short of space. You will rarely refer back to documents over a year old and few papers need to be kept more than six years. Start your paperless systems from today and dispose of your old papers as they pass their relevant date.
But it doesn’t end there. Now that we’ve reduced our paper, we’re working on reducing our digital footprint.