Due to the sophistication of modern information technology, it is now possible to have a completely paperless office. Obviously, going paperless is a far more environmentally friendly option compared to the offices of yesteryear that used numerous reams of paper on a daily basis. However, it is important to consider a few factors such as the difficulty of truly eliminating paper from the office. Going completely paperless will be very hard for most businesses and all but impossible for others. If you are thinking about doing away with paper, consider the following challenges of a paperless office:
The Cost of Hardware and Software
If you decide to keep your data on premises, you face the expense that comes with constantly updating hardware and software. Along with this, there is the cost of keeping IT personnel on staff and that of keeping all of your data secure. Moving your data to the cloud is less expensive but still costly and can present security risks.
The Need for Training
One of the big challenges of a paperless office revolves around employee education. You cannot just switch to a paperless office overnight. You will have to train all of your staff, which takes time. You may find that some of your employees are more willing to adapt to the new system than others. Getting everyone on the same page will take even more time.
The Potential for Error
Electronic record systems are susceptible to human error, which can range from wrong names on files to scanned documents being incomplete. Stored documents can also be deleted by accident. This is why training your employees is so important. A well-trained workforce is your best defense against human error but even with solid training, no one is perfect so errors will occur.
Hardware failure that results in lost data is among the major threats in a paperless office. No digital solution is perfect; all can fall prey to sudden power losses and accidents. Backing up your data can be highly beneficial in the event that your equipment breaks down; this is an instance where cloud-based storage solutions can be very handy. These services can protect you from data loss due to malfunctioning hardware and from disasters like fire or flooding.
Protection from hackers should be at the top of the priority list when you decide to go paperless. Information security should also be one of the main points stressed when training your employees to work in the new system. Of course, you will have to implement a firewall and antivirus measures along with encryption technology. Encrypting your data ensures that even if a hacker were to gain access to it, they would be unable to do any damage.
The Decision to Digitize Your Old Files
You will need to consider whether it is worth the cost and time to scan all of your paper files or whether you should simply to transition to a paperless workflow after a set date. In either case, it is important to set a deadline to help overcome any reluctance among your staff. Note that you have the option of outsourcing the scanning of your paper files.
Remember that even if you overcome the challenges of a paperless office listed above, the organizations with which you do business may not follow suit. This means that you will probably still have to deal with paper from them. Note also that going paperless takes time and a lot of work. It is a very gradual process of adjusting to a new mode of operation.