Guide to going paperless in Agriculture

May 14th 2020

How do you go paperless in agriculture? Paperwork is a growing frustration in the agriculture sector as health and safety compliance adds more paperwork, data becomes more valuable, and the need for data-driven insights for effective project management increases. This guide intends to cover how your agricultural enterprise can go paperless.

1. Review and group your paper documents

Not all paper documents need to be transferred to a digital space, this is a great time to have a review of your paper documents and shred the ones that are not necessary or beneficial to keep. Once that is completed, the next step is to group you paper documents by types such as:

  • Receipts, invoices, purchase orders.
  • Paper forms and checklists.
  • Letters, statements, and other correspondence.

Consider the purpose when grouping your paper documents, you can group related documents, such as documents kept for accounting purposes, together.

2. Make your technology choices

To go paperless, you will likely need to adopt new technology to store your important data and documents. The two main storage categories are on-site, or on the cloud.

Storing your data on the cloud would be through a suite of apps, such as Locale Central for forms, Xero for accounting purposes, and OneDrive or Google Drive for everything else. The advantage of storing your data on the cloud is it is secure but easily accessible by your team, and easy to recover in the event of theft or disaster.

The alternative is storing your data on your local computer or an external hard drive, this is often a cheaper solution and simpler to set up, but it provides much less flexibility and accessibility. Generally, storing your information on the cloud is the way to go.

3. Create and implement an action plan for future documents

Now that you know where you will be storing your data, how will your business processes change to stay paperless? This step requires you to consider how to change your workflows, some changes you make might be:

  • Signing and sending documents with a digital signature.
  • Opting to receive financial statements by email instead of by post, and storing them in OneDrive or Google Drive.
  • Storing and managing your financial documents in accounting software like Xero.
  • For your data collection app that replaces your paper forms and checklists, you will likely need to create your templates within the data collection app for your teams to use. Locale Central has a range of templates to get you started, with a free account option available.

Figuring out how your business processes will change is only half the battle, the other half is getting your team to adopt the change. To achieve this, consider creating a training plan to show them how their workflows will change, and to educate them on how to use the new technology, 

4. Convert your paper documents into digital assets and store them

Now that the flow of new paper documents is stopped, it’s time to take your old paper documents and bring them into the cloud.

For most of your paper documents, you can repurpose your action plan to convert your old documents, or for the sake of simplicity scan them all and drop them into a folder.

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