More and more businesses are making an effort to reduce or limit paper usage and physical storage. The potential benefits are easy to see: reduced supply costs, less waste, elimination of destruction and storage costs, and improved workflow efficiency. But sometimes it’s easier to see the destination than to navigate the road to get there safely. The fact is, as inefficient and wasteful as paper can be, its use in many ongoing business processes has become so ingrained that many professionals just don’t feel comfortable without it. It’s like going from reading paperback books to reading books on a tablet. Even if you know the reading experience should be just as good, if not better on a Kindle or Nook, to many it just doesn’t have the same feel.
So what can businesses do to ensure a successful paperless transition? At AccountSolve, we have implemented cloud-based solutions, eliminated paper storage, and reduced paper-based reporting and communications with clients. This involves changing not only how we do business on a day-to-day basis, but also getting our clients on board with the new processes as well. Here are five things we’ve learned along the way:
`1. Define your process first. Include the team members that will be involved in the transition. Outlining existing processes will illuminate the waste and inefficiency of paper-reliant processes and help identify critical value-driving activities that must be included in the new process. Involving employees will help you get buy-in once you begin implementation.
2. Get the right hardware and software to replace existing processes. If you don’t find the right solution that provides an elegant and simplified solution, adoption will prove difficult. At the first sign of difficulty, it’s easy for workers to fall back on the “proven” process you are trying to leave behind.
3. Reinforce the new process. If possible, eliminate the ability to revert to old paper processes. Be vigilant in monitoring the implementation of new processes.
4. Divide and conquer. In some cases, it makes more sense to tackle processes one at a time. If you bite off more than you can chew, and try to do too much at once, you risk a bumpy transition. Online bill pay using a SaaS provider, in cooperation with your accountant, is often a good place to start. Once you have a successful conversion, publicize the success in terms of efficiency and savings within your organization and use the momentum from your success to fuel the next project.
5. Lean on your trusted advisors to find the best solutions, especially when dealing with accounting and financial information. Progressive accountants that are looking out for their clients’ best interests will have done significant due diligence finding solutions that bring value. Their experience in helping other clients convert to paperless processes will provide valuable insight. And adopting their recommended SaaS solutions will streamline your interactions with your accountant, saving time and money.