One of the biggest trends in business right now is to go paperless. It is one method to cut costs and boost efficiency. But is this method of file management even possible for you and your business?
It would be nearly impossible to completely eliminate paper from your business. So, what are some of the easiest areas to introduce paperless and automated practices? The first and most obvious area is your accounts receivable. How many invoices and statements are you printing and mailing to your customer? This can be unnecessary when most, if not all, of your customers have an email account and might be willing to receive online invoices? If you are already running QuickBooks Desktop or Online, the email feature is very user-friendly and doesn’t cost you anything on top of your subscription. With your QuickBooks Online subscription, you can also receive free bank ACH payments directly from their bank to yours. This payment is applied directly to the invoice and entered into QuickBooks as a deposit. Once the invoice is sent, you don’t have to do anything more. Talk about a time saver! I can’t say enough good things about QuickBooks Online. I truly think it’s the best accounting software available right now.
Next, your accounts payable can be looked at. You probably receive most of your vendor invoices in the form of a paper invoice. Some of your vendors probably offer online invoicing. You also have the option, through your bank or even your accounting software, to pay your bills online. This creates a bank ACH, saving you money on checks, envelopes and postage. Not to mention the time it takes to create all of these. If you have monthly recurring payments, you can set the payment as such and not have to worry about it again.
If you are a service-based industry, you probably also keep miscellaneous customer information on hand. This type of information can very easily be scanned into your computer, if you regularly back it up, or to a cloud-based server. I, personally, do both.
Most of your bank, credit card and other loan accounts offer online statements. Take advantage of this! You will be notified by email when a statement is available, and you can save it in the proper location on your computer. You can always print it when necessary.
Any business will have other documents that can be scanned, such as; insurance documents, licenses, banking information, etc.
Let’s talk logistics. For scanning purposes, I use the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500. I find that this model is user-friendly and fast. There are smaller and more affordable scanner options, but this one is by far my favorite that I’ve used. For my cloud storage, I utilize Microsoft OneDrive. I have 1TB of storage through my Microsoft office account. That is A LOT of storage. On my computer, this my OneDrive show up as another folder, just like my regular document folders. Just to be on the safe side, I also back up my computer regularly using an WD Elements 1TB External Hard Drive. This is a manual process, but once it’s set up, all it takes is attaching the hard drive with a USB cord and the process will begin automatically. I keep my hard drive in a fireproof safe, so it anything were to ever happen, my documents would be stored in multiple secure locations. Some business might prefer a cloud-based automatic backup system. This is a great choice for many, but tends to be a little more costly. If you have a service-based business that exchanges a lot of customer documents, you can also subscribe to a cloud-based file sharing program. ShareFile is a good choice, but there are many options to choose from. With ShareFile, you can upload files as you go, or just ones that are request by your customer. It creates a simple customer portal, and they can send you documents as well. This is ideal for working with sensitive documents, so you aren’t having to password protect the documents for security purposes.
The only way for this to really work for your business is if you and your employees are committed to the process and have policies and procedures in place. You might spend a week or even a month, depending on the scale of your business, planning and preparing. You’ll need to decide who will assume the responsibilities; such as online bill pay, online or email invoicing, scanning, etc. Also take the time to ensure that your online file and naming system is simple and easy to use. There is nothing worse than having to search all over for a file. I recommend naming every file by the customer or vendor name, the document description and the date it was received. If you are truly committed to paperless, you might also consider spending some time scanning old documents. This will be a good way to clean up files.
Keep in mind the end goal. Easily accessible documents, employee efficiency and reduced costs. Win-Win-Win. I offer a discount on QuickBooks Online for all of my customers, as well as scanning services! Just contact me through the website or email me to get started.
Thank you so much for stopping by and I wish you the best!