Going paperless will save your organization a great deal of time, money and space. Creating a paperless office, however, isn't as simple as copying your paperwork to a digital format. In addition to having a document management system to handle it all, you need to understand what types of digital documents you should be using. Although every company's needs will differ, you should keep the following factors in mind when determining what types of digital documents your office needs:
Documents that should be converted to digital formats
Although you are technically trying to achieve a paperless office, not all of your documents will be used in digital formats – at least in the beginning. The types of documents listed below, however, should be converted to digital formats as soon as possible.
In paper form, archived documents such as tax records and correspondences will take up a great deal of space in your office. Because they won't be accessed regularly, they should be among the first documents to become digital documents.
Memos, project status updates and other documents that are commonly shared internally should all be in digital format. Because your company's employees are the only ones who will interact with these documents, you can be sure that the way in which they are used will be fully compatible with your company's document management software. By converting these documents to a digital format, you are also streamlining intra-office communications, as all documents can be shared with any number of people within your company in seconds.
Most regularly used documents
By converting regularly used documents to digital files, you can enhance your employees' efficiency exponentially. However, your company will not be the only one interacting with these documents, so you must make sure that everyone involved is comfortable with and capable of using the digital versions. Which of these documents will be digital will depend upon the preferences of your business partners and customers. For example, if a business partner or customer insists on mailing you a paper document, you must be prepared to communicate in kind.
Backup copies of important documents
Regardless of whether a document is primarily a digital file or not, digital backups of all of your important documents should be made.
Formats you should be using for your documents
There is not a single digital format. There are, in fact, hundreds of them. Files, though, can be converted into different specific formats, so your primary focus should be on whether the format allows your record to be an editable document, or if it is just an image format.
Certain types of digital documents should always be editable. For example, if you have an ongoing project, you want to be able to change the documents relevant to it as new information comes about. This includes many documents that were scanned from paper documents (you can use scanning software to make the data manageable as if you had created the document on a computer).
If you do not want a document to be changed, or you want to make sure that it retains everything contained in the original paper document, then it should be in a non-editable image format.
Understanding the types of digital documents you should be using will make your transition to a paperless office a seamless one
Making the switch to a paperless office will have a positive impact on your office. Eventually, nearly all of your documents will be digital, but you can enhance these benefits by knowing which types of digital documents you should be using right now.