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A Thousand Little Paper Cuts

February 04, 2014

 By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Going paperless can both save a business money and help the environment. It also can improve efficiency, in that an all-digital workflow enables faster document retrieval and less filing time.

But many businesses don’t even try going paperless. It sounds like a big initiative, and for all the benefits of being paperless there are other projects that command more attention.

What business owners need to recognize, however, is that eliminating paper need not be as big a task as it sounds. The best way to move to a paperless office is an iterative approach where paper is gradually reduced; a thousand little paper cuts turns into a paperless office.

So going paperless can be gradual, and it need not be a major business initiative.

Some of the places where business can start include fax, printing volume, invoices and company newsletters.

One of the easiest adjustments to make is changing the way that your business invoices. Going from a printed invoice to an e-mail invoice is as easy as changing workflow, as the software to generate a PDF of an invoice is likely already on your computer system.

Using electronic invoices also encourages clients to reciprocate with electronic communication, and also signals that your business is technologically with the times.

Another way to both cut down on paper and signal modern business savvy is to stop using traditional fax machines, a definite paper creator.

Through services such as FaxSIPit, businesses can now send and receive faxes digitally, cutting out paper entirely. Using digital faxes, companies also can pick up improved document handling and extra mobility in much the same way that digital calling enables mobility.

Tackling printing volume is, of course, a biggie; the average worker still prints roughly 40 sheets of paper per day, according to a recent study.

One way to cut down on printer use is making the printer just a little bit more challenging to use, coupled with having digital document software such as Adobe (News - Alert) Acrobat on worker computers. This can be done by moving the printer to the farthest corner of the office, and by not making it automatically connect to employee computers. Yes, there needs to be a relatively straightforward way for employees to print. That doesn’t mean it has to be convenient, however, and that lack of convenience will reduce paper use slowly.

Then there also are things such as company newsletters, where you send a PDF and don’t print out the company newsletter for distribution.

Little reductions in paper use can go a long way. The road to the paperless office starts with a single step.

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