Like most bookkeepers in Brisbane, I’m a big fan of the paperless office environment. It’s efficient, space-saver, and environment friendly. And with the technology we have now, computerization and clouding made business processes become easier, more feasible and secure, and cheaper. Check out my other post on the advantages and components of a paperless office here.
What I will be discussing now is the process, or the steps to transition from the traditional office filing of physical files to the more advanced paperless file management.
Identifying your Needs
Once you’ve decided to eliminate the bulky paper files and go paperless, you have to identify what you need to replace them. Here are some of the most common applications and programs a small business office might need;
Cloud Storage – This is the virtual place where you will be keeping all important documents and files. You can always store your files in your computers, however, local storage is more prone to data loss, theft, and mismanagement. Cloud computing offers more secure storage, easy access, and better control.
CRM – A CRM or a Customer Relationship Management software will help you keep track of your clients. It is a system where you can keep all your clients’ information including their previous orders, notes on their preferences, addresses, billing and payment methods, birthdays, and communications to you like calls and emails. Find a CRM that is designed for your business type and industry.
Bookkeeping Software – Bookkeeping in Brisbane is no longer limited to the journals you keep in your table drawers. In the paperless setup, your bookkeeper doesn’t even need to be at your office to bookkeep. There are several excellent accounting and bookkeeping software that will allow you and your bookkeeper instant access from anywhere you are, efficiency for your bookkeeper, and savings for you.
Aside from the applications, you will also need to identify the infrastructure of your new office. Do you have the right internet connection? You will also need a scanner, an intranet connection if you plan to share office equipment like the printer or fax machine. And since you will go virtual, each of your office staff will need a work station with a computer and maybe a telephone.
Shop Around for your Options
Once you have a detailed list of your needs, it’s time to shop around for your options. For the physical infrastructure you’re going to install like the computers and network connection, it is always best to go for the best. However, top of the line equipment can also be expensive. If you are working on a budget, prioritize. Your assistant might not need the same computer as the designers do. And the designers can do without phone extensions but would need dual monitors.
Software and applications should be chosen with more caution. There are hundreds of free software on the internet which you can try on. Many applications are offered with free trial periods. Take your time testing as many applications you need. Don’t settle for anything that will not fit or address your need.
Spreading the Word
Transitioning to paperless is practically revamping your office and business processes. Thus, it is vital that you tell your all employees of the coming change as soon as possible. Everyone has to know, not only your office staff, but also your sales department, the store managers, and the warehouse people.
This is not always easy as not everyone is welcoming of change. Some might be worried of losing their job, and others might not welcome the thought of learning and adapting to new processes.
Avoid disorder, concern and anxiety in the company by assuring and providing your employees the needed training they would need in order to handle new processes.
Prepare for the Transition
This phase will include acquisition of your needed infrastructure and software, installing the hardware and internet connection, and training your staff. Other preparatory steps would include setting up email accounts, and employee access to various programs. You will also need to sit down with your managers and develop business processes that will complement the new paperless office environment. Make sure that you meet up with your bookkeeper in Brisbane to discuss your bookkeeping needs.
Now that you have your new processes planned out, you can now go through your paper files. Identify what you will need to keep, and discard all that you consider trash. Among the files you decided to keep, separate those that should also be stored in its physical form like titles, certificates, and licenses.
Migrate the Data
Migrating the data is the most strenuous work of transitioning to paperless environment. This will include adding up contacts and records, encoding your data and customer files, and scanning documents. You can immediately discard documents like letter, images, or drawings after they are scanned. This phase will now involve you, your managers and bookkeeper, and your office staff.
Test Data Management Controls and Security
After all are uploaded to your cloud accounts, test if you have adequate control of the files. Can your store manager access your payroll? Who have access to the backup files? Thorough testing should be conducted during the first few months of transitioning. Regular and unannounced tests should be done three to five time a year thereafter depending on the sensitivity of data. Fewer people should have access to more sensitive files. And make sure that you have good anti-virus system that are capable of stopping malwares, viruses, and other malicious programs.
Migrating from the traditional paper filing to the virtual data management is a long and arduous process. Make sure that you take each step with care and proper consideration. Get all the support you can have and let the experts help you. Paying computer programmers to setup your office network, or consulting with a bookkeeper in Brisbane for the best bookkeeping software will ensure safety of your files and success to your paperless office environment.