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Top 5 Reasons to Take Your Office Paperless in 2014

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By Matt Peterson

Another year is in the books and if your company is like most offices everywhere, you have been keeping a watchful eye on two things. First, if your fiscal year coincided with the calendar year you just finished your December sprint by working at break-neck speed to hit 2013 revenue targets and finish the year in a strong financial position. Second, and with the start of 2014, you are or should be making preparations for the coming year and how your company can become more efficient while keeping expenses in line or reducing them where at all possible.

In today's hyper competitive business environment every company is looking for ways to do more with less by shoring up operational inefficiencies with the ultimate goal of becoming more profitable. Significant efficiencies can be gained through the right mixture of human training and technology adoption. One technology that is seeing widespread adoption across the business landscape is the implementation of electronic document management (EDM) systems; perhaps more commonly known as paperless software. While this type of technology has been around for many years and adopted by many larger offices across the globe it has, in recent years, become affordable for companies of all sizes. This is in large part due to cloud-based solutions that provide 24/7 access to company files and records including secure file sharing and synching capabilities across all hardware devices including mobile.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should consider taking your office paperless in 2014:

Reason 1: No More Lost or Misplaced Files
Lost and misplaced files plague every office at one time or another. Unlike a physical file cabinet, if a file is stored in the wrong location in an EDM solution it can still be retrieved and viewed because all files are indexed with key words that allow for a Google like search for quick access. A 2008 IDC study estimates that an enterprise with 1,000 workers wastes between $2.5 and $3.5 million a year searching for -- and failing to find -- important documents. A document management system eliminates this very common office problem. Whether your enterprise is bigger or smaller than 1,000 is not important. What is important is that no company can afford to lose critical information.

Reason 2: Cloud Based 24/7 Access to Documents and Files
No longer is business conducted between the hours of 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. How often have you been working from home, an airport, or even on vacation and wished you had access to files that would assist you in preparing for that important conference call, completing a report, sales proposal, or a reference point in a meeting? This need arises frequently and often times it's after hours and there is no one at the office to help out. Imagine files such a Word, Excel, PDF, PowerPoint, JPEG, MPEG, MP3, etc. all in the same repository securely accessible via PC or laptop as well as iPad and all other mobile devices. Convenience can be priceless.

Reason 3: For Your Eyes Only
More and more companies are at risk because personally identifiable information (PII) about their clients is either being leaked or stolen and making its way into the public domain. This is a nightmare scenario as legal action can result. Companies are responsible to ensure that their sensitive documents are safeguarded against external threats as well as those that can come from within their organizations from the likes of snooping or disgruntled employees.

The right EDM solution will contain safeguards to control access based on the rights they are given by the administrator on the account. It will even track access so that you can see who has searched for and viewed certain files. Other restrictions are available such as the ability to control printing, emailing, and file exporting privileges. Can your physical file cabinet do this?

Reason 4: Sharing Sensitive Files with Customers, Vendors, etc.
By scanning every document that comes into an office from invoices to contracts, you are creating a digital copy that not only takes up less space in your office but also puts it into a PDF format that can then be emailed and shared with customers, vendors, employees, etc. For documents that contain confidential information such as account numbers, social security numbers, birthdates, or any information that could contribute to identity theft there is a more secure way than email. EDM systems have the ability to share information via a secure file transfer system that uses encrypted protocols to share files in the cloud that cannot be hacked or intercepted.

Reason 5: Disaster Recovery: It's Hard to Backup a Physical File Cabinet
Most of us live in some type of disaster zone. From hurricanes and earthquakes to wild fires, tornadoes, flooding, and mudslides, it seems everyone is vulnerable. By having your files scanned and stored in an EDM system it is easy to create backup copies that are both affordable and easy to maintain. If a cloud-based EDM is the chosen platform then the provider already does this for you and you need not worry about multiple backups of your digital file cabinet. How do you make a backup of your paper-based system? Make a photocopy of all of your files? Not going to happen.

Taking your office paperless has its challenges, as it will change the way you do business. If done correctly it will be one of those technologies that after implemented you will wonder how you ever got along before without it. Wake up it's 2014! Paper based offices are so 2008.

Matt Peterson is the CEO of eFileCabinet.com and has been a leading advocate for going paperless for over 15 years.

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