While enterprises are rapidly moving business functions to the cloud, many small businesses remain mired in paperwork. After all, it’s not hard to keep track of things when you’re small, and you probably have little to gain from going digital anyway - right?
Not so fast. An AIIM study found that two-thirds of businesses adopting paper-free processes reported a payback within 18 months. Seventy percent reported good or excellent return on their investment for going paperless with accounts payable/accounts receivable alone.
They also cited other benefits, like better audit records, faster response time, improved productivity & better monitoring of process status & workflow.
In a small, thinly-staffed office, it’s important for everyone to be as efficient as possible. If even one worker has to waste time looking for documents, it impedes productivity.
And let’s face it- paper gets misplaced. A survey by Software Advice says office workers in paper-based environments lose at least 6 hours a week searching for documents, while employees in digital offices lose almost no time.
The fact is, manual, paper-intensive processes are holding small businesses back. Even if you have a perfect office where all documents are properly filed & everyone knows exactly where they are, that won’t help someone who suddenly needs a file on a sales call or when working remotely.
Digitising your records ensures that everything is correctly classified & stored. It makes workers more efficient by giving them what they need when they need it, and allows them to collaborate in new ways. Here are just a few cases that illustrate how going digital makes your business better:
Most small businesses don’t have a big HR staff. It’s often just one person, or maybe two, responsible for hiring & firing, payroll, benefits, time tracking and keeping up with a tonne of regulations about recordkeeping & labour policies. Taking the onboarding process digital not only makes your HR person’s life easier, it speeds up your hiring & prevents mistakes that occur in a harried environment & could cause liability problems.
With digital onboarding, you decide what documents you need, scan them in once & you’re done. Job applications, resumes, profiles, notes, contracts, legal forms - all of it goes into a secure, searchable cloud-based storage system where it can be retrieved with a click. Pre-defined rules about compliance mean your HR person doesn’t have to schedule reminders about when to archive or dispose of documents.
Some systems also have an employee portal where workers can change their address, check on their RRSP’s, or find answers to policy questions without bugging your busy HR staff.
The number-intensive accounts payable workflow is a natural for digitising. You can set up a system where any department can scan in invoices with the push of a button on their MFD.
Once the information is in the system, it can be analysed without taking up your accountant’s time. Are there expenses you can cut? Are you paying too much for some supplies, or stocking more than you need - or not enough? A digitised accounts system gives you a quick & objective way to find out.
It also saves time for accountants, whom you would otherwise be paying a high rate to fill out a multitude of forms. It eliminates the errors that are bound to occur with manual processing, and allows accountants to place, review, and approve requests faster.
Perhaps best of all, the speed that digitising brings to your organisation allows you to take better advantage of vendor early-payment discounts.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that you can’t separate millennials from their cell phones. Millennials now make up a majority in the labour force & their numbers will only grow in the coming years.
One reason they’re so wedded to their phones - and tablets & laptops - is that they like to work from home -or from the train on the way home, or from Starbucks, or from just about anywhere. This trend isn’t going away & to make it work, you need to give them access to company documents. That means you need to store your information in a secure cloud-based platform - with permissions, of course.
Another big workplace trend is collaboration - not in meetings, but on documents themselves. When workers can share, edit & comment on projects remotely, as well as add new information (including pictures, graphs, & PFDs), they don’t have to waste time setting up & attending meetings. They get their work done faster. That means they can serve your customers faster, too.
Ricoh Canada has over 25 years of experience enabling businesses to break the bonds of paper. Find out if going digital is right for your organization.