What is a paperless filing system?

May 15th 2020

Paperless technology has become increasingly popular over the past few decades, and the promise of a paperless office is starting to become a reality. If you have ever wasted time trying to find one piece of paper in a room full of filing cabinets, or if you’re looking to improve productivity, you may be wondering how your filing system could go paperless. So, what is a paperless filing system?

A paperless filing system is the digital system in which you control how your documents are stored and retrieved. A paperless filing system can be hosted on the cloud with an application like Google Drive or DropBox, kept on a server in your local network, or simply stored on your personal computer.

Why are the benefits of using a paperless filing system?

A paperless filing system increases productivity, saves time, reduces expenses, increases security, and makes it easier to collaborate with your team.

A paperless filing system increases productivity and saves time because it’s easier to quickly access your documents, instead of searching for a needle in the haystack a quick type in the search bar can find the right file for you most of the time. Automation also helps save time and productivity with a paperless filing system by automatically handling business processes for you.

Aside from the expense of labor and your time, a paperless filing system also reduces expenses by removing the need to buy paper, printer ink, and printing equipment for your office. Less space taken up in the office by your traditional filing system can also save money by needing less office space.

With a paperless filing system, you have better control of who has access to what documents, which are securely protected on the cloud. By storing your data digitally on the cloud, your security can be better and it is easier to recover from disasters due to your documents being digitally stored instead of on-premises.

Taking a look at collaboration, a paperless filing system makes it easier to collaborate with your team because you can both work on the same document simultaneously on the cloud.

How do you set up a paperless filing system?

To set up a paperless filing system, you first have to do a stock-take of what current paper documents you have. Group them by their type, for example put all paper forms that use the same template together, all invoices together, and all bank statements together. While going through your paper documents, consider if any don’t need to be carried across and can instead go straight to the shredder.

After you have grouped your documents, the next step is to decide how you will store your documents digitally. You can store them on the cloud, on a local network, or just keep them on your computer. For better accessibility and security, I recommend storing them on the cloud.

If you are storing your documents on the cloud, you need to decide what software or applications will store the documents for you. You could store all your documents on a file sharing service like Google Drive, OneDrive, or DropBox, but you may also want to consider storing files in an app related to its purpose. For example, you may want to keep all your financial documents such as invoices and receipts in an accounting software like Xero, and store your paper forms in a data collection app like Locale Central.

After you have decided where to store your documents, the next step before you start converting them across is to create an action plan for future documents. How will you need to change your business processes to avoid accumulating more paper documents? You may consider changes such as:

  • Getting correspondence from your bank via email instead of letters.
  • Using a mobile data collection app like Locale Central to fill out and store your forms.
  • Processing and sending invoices in Xero.

After you’ve created an action plan for future documents, all that’s left is to convert your old paper documents into digital. For some documents, this may be as simple as scanning and uploading the document, but others may require more work such as re-entering the data into your accounting software or other applications.

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