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The cloud should be part of your business plan in 2014

|Dec 11|magazine15 min read

The idea of the paperless office is certainly nothing new. In one form or another, the concept has been floating around for decades. It is only in the last few years, though, that the concept has become more than simply feasible - it has become incredibly attractive. While there will always be diehards that prefer to keep their documents on paper, the truth is that more businesses are depending on paperless document management than ever before. With the growth of broadband internet connections and cloud storage, the viability of eliminating paper has to be something that your business will consider in the near future. You need to know not just that the process works, but how it can benefit you.

Let's take a moment to look at how paper costs a business’ money. Every sheet of paper that you print off demands an infrastructure. You need copiers and printers, and not the cheap home models - the business machines that are expensive to operate and to maintain. Each of these machines needs to be fed constantly, through the use of replacement paper, toner, and ink. Every sheet of paper that you print out represents a small debit from your company's profits - money that you will never get back.

Moving away from the physical, there is also the fact that paper is simply a waste of time. Collecting, processing, copying and storing physical sheets of paper requires hiring personnel that do little more than keep your files straight, severely impacting your bottom line. And even then, you cannot be guaranteed that something will not be lost or destroyed during the filing process, costing you even more time and money. Using paper is not only a great way to drain your business' resources, but also a fabulous way to guarantee that you will lose at least some of your data.

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The rise of the paperless office

This is where the paperless office comes in, and where it becomes so successful. With a few keystrokes, you can eliminate that paper-based infrastructure on which you have come to rely. No longer will you have to allocate room in your budget for copier repairs, nor will you have to deal with simple issues like running out to order a new ream of paper. Your data will be stored on the cloud, allowing you to save money on the physical architecture that is causing your company's profits to subtly but assuredly decline.

Going paperless also gives you a chance to avoid the messy realities of dealing with paper, saving you money through increased efficiency. Imagine being able to eliminate that musty room full of paperwork, or being able to redirect the efforts of your staff who are busy looking through files for data from years past. When everything is available at a keystroke, you can quickly recall data and improve employee efficiency. This improved efficiency allows you to get more for your money, reducing the menial tasks to which you much assign employees and allowing them to move on to business that can actually make your company money.

There are other ways in which the paperless office can save you money, though. Document management is a huge problem for many small businesses, especially when it comes to space. A good business owner knows that overhead is one of the first costs that should be cut in order to maintain a healthy profit - but paying for extra square footage in order to store files is simply something with which you have to deal if you want to maintain physical files. Storing everything on the cloud not only gives you a better way to access your data, but it also gives you a good way to eliminate extra space in the office. This in turn will allow you to reduce the square footage needed for office space, allowing you to seek out a lower rent or to purchase a small building.

Reducing your overall footprint

The paperless office's goal is, in many ways, about reducing your overall footprint. While eliminating that physical space is helpful, it is nothing compared to eliminating the amount of excess data generated. Think for a moment about the duplicate paperwork that your office might generate. You might have to print out multiple copies of a document in order to keep a team informed, or spend time keeping physical backups just in case something is needed at a later date. With better document management, your data footprint can be reduced. This will allow you to look at your data in a more efficient way, reducing redundancy and streamlining your approach to the way information is shared in your office. When every member of your staff can access pertinent data from the cloud, every member of the staff will be allowed to do his or her job without depending on documents that lead to little more than waste or confusion.

Going paperless is not a pipe dream, even if your business is small. By moving your current paper-oriented tasks to the cloud and making use of document management software, you can bring your business' productivity and costs in line with the expectations of a 21st century business model. While moving on from the old ways can be hard, the benefits certainly speak for themselves. Going paperless is not only a way to help to strengthen your business' bottom line, but a way to position your business in a manner that provides for its future.

 

About the author

Matt Peterson is the CEO of Lehi, Utah based eFileCabinet, Inc. Founded in 2001, eFileCabinet, Inc. began as a cutting-edge tool to digitally store records in accounting firms. As it grew in popularity, eFileCabinet developed into a full-fledged electronic document management solution designed to help organizations capture, manage and protect their data. While the accounting industry was the company’s main focus at formation, it has since expanded to include numerous vertical markets.  eFileCabinet, Inc. distributes its solutions both direct and through a worldwide network of Value-Added-Resellers and strategic partners that customize solutions to meet their client’s specific needs. www.efilecabinet.com