Sadly the accounting function in a family business is typically covered in a tonne of paper.
Very few businesses in Perth become truly “paperless”. There is marketing documents, business cards and “wet signatures” for important key contracts.
However, with the right combination of cloud technology applications from accounting, taxation and customer relationship management you can become “paper light”.
The advent of cloud accounting programs like Xero have additional advantages. It allows you to scan invoices, purchase orders and documents to the invoice within the system.
Some useful cloud applications include:
- Evernote for digital notes
- Xero for accounting and financial management
- Google docs for collaboration
- Slack for internal communications
- Shoeboxed for invoice scanning
- Your iphone! Many programs have apps now that link up.
However the benefits go beyond the simple filing of invoices.
Creating quality systems
If you start using a paper light system you will start creating a process to storing your information. And through the creation of process you will create a system that can be repeated and transferred from staff member to staff member.
No longer will you be scurrying around the desk of a resigned employee trying to find the “blue file” which has just gone.
When you move offices you can simple pick up your computer and go. The days of massive filing cabinets lining up the office walls are over.
When you want to access something from around the world you can. You do not need to be physically present in your office to be able to work.
If you are keeping documents on your desk – or in a filing cabinet – they are pretty much gone into your own private domain.
Documents on a cloud platform, if you want them to be, are available for everybody to look at. So the argument that you are “hoarding” valuable information can easily be rebuffed.
Quicker to find information
With electronic search functions you have the option of looking for documents across a wide range with multiple search options.
This will be significantly faster than physically sifting each page of your cabinets.
If the paper is burnt, destroyed or removed you are at a loss. If the information is stored electronically you can keep it in multiple locations with easier remote back-up options.
The benefits of electronic signing are significant. It is quicker, you can do it remotely and you receive a copy of the documents that you have signed.
Printing less paper and consuming less paper will cost you less money. Less money on high speed printers, less money on toner, less money on secure document shredding, less money on archive storage and less money on office space to store all of this information.
And it is better for the environment.
What to look out for when going paperless
Get the training done properly
With a paper system most people have their “own way” of doing things.
If you go paperless you will need one way to record your information. The stronger and more robust your system, and the more you invest into training, the better off you will be.
Change your office
The removal of filing cabinets will give you more room and freshen up the office. So take advantage and put staff closer together so they can talk openly and freely.
Use the extra room for fun break out areas and quiet rooms.
Your office reflects your culture so use the paperless drive to lighten up how you present.
Paper will come into your office. So make sure you have a great system of getting it into your system.
You might have a nominated champion to tackle all incoming paper or a cabinet where everything is put that enters the office.
No matter what happens everybody in the office will have to follow the system.
It is a significant step to go paperless. So don’t go cold turkey or you could face a revolt.
Consider starting at an easy entry point and then build the process up from there.
At Westcourt we ourselves are paper-light and we have a depth of knowledge in technology software that helps a business automate and secure information flow – be it human resources, finance, legal or family governance.
However you want to get your office to go paper-light do it with thought. Start with one area that is an “easy win” and use somebody who is independent, has done it before and understands the technology behind it.
You want to learn from experience, not mistakes.