Going Digital and Ditching Paper? Read this First.

In this digital age of tablets, phones and online services, it’s a wonder that so many businesses still use paper forms. It’s time to let go of paper. Whether you’re going paperless to save trees, save money or save time (or even just because your boss asked you to) embarking on a paper-free journey isn’t always as simple as you might think (but totally worth it).

Choosing to quit paper (and why you should)
Dumping paper is no easy feat, but plays a vital role when modernizing your business, improving customer satisfaction and prioritizing your bottom line. So, just like finishing your ‘to do’ list before a weekend, or walking your dog in torrential downpour — embracing a paper-free workplace is a necessary labor, that benefits everyone.

At this point, you might be mentally tallying each binder, shelf and filing cabinet, full to the brim with company forms and documents, wondering where to start. Lucky for you, you’ve already accomplished the first and most important step –– making the decision to improve your work life, sans paper.

The next step requires a skeptic’s eye and careful research –– choosing a platform to digitize your business forms and documents. When selecting your digital solution, there are several areas to consider:

Time & Cost Implications
Going paperless should result in time and budget savings, so when selecting your digital platform, consider the time investments your team will need to make. Will this platform require me to retrain my staff? How will this platform incorporate my current documents?

If a platform requires your business to completely redesign its forms and documents, be wary. Digital solutions should cater to your existing business docs, saving you time (no retraining necessary, and no time wasted redesigning perfectly functional docs) and reducing your workload. By selecting a digital document solution that replicates your existing forms and documents, your business can sidestep potential disruptions and reduce confusion when introducing your paper-free initiative. 
Document Quality & Completion
Don’t settle for just going paperless. Once you’ve selected your ideal digital solution, being paper-free shouldn’t only mean ditching reams of paper and tangible filing needs (although that’s a nice perk!). Your new digital documents should also result in higher document completion rates, better quality data and improved efficiencies.

When selecting your digital platform, pay close attention to what field types and features are available, to optimize your digital docs. This can mean anything from sketch, maps and image abilities, to automatic calculations and simple logic.

Plays Well with Others
What good are digital documents if the data they gather remains isolated from your other critical business systems and apps? Ensure your digital solution includes the ability to integrate with other platforms vital to your business operations. Integrating your digital documents with other business systems empowers your business to not only avoid rekeying gathered data, but also to immediately sync every corner of your operation with real-time information.

Keeping your operation updated also requires that key-players and departments have instant access to completed documents and submitted data. When selecting a platform to digitize your documents, prioritize information sharing abilities and the availability of captured data (this can mean anything from automatic document sharing features to instantaneous data access).

Client-Ready Results
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting your paperless solution is the final, client-facing output of your document. Many digital document solutions will gather your business data, and produce an unprofessional hodgepodge of metrics, not ready for clients’ eyes. Seek out a digital solution that prioritizes the professional output of captured data and finalized documents.

Part of Your World
Another key factor when considering a paperless solution, is how your digital documents will fare in your business’ day-to-day. Is your staff largely mobile? Are documents often completed in areas with little to no signal? Are clients and partners privy to completed documents, or expected to collaborate? If the digital solution cannot accommodate your business environment, it’s not the solution for you.

Paperless and Proud
Going paperless is an intimidating, but rewarding journey… a journey you can easily conquer with the right platform. Your digital, paperless, document solution should accommodate your work lifestyle (not the other way around). When selecting your paperless platform, remember to prioritize mobile/device capabilities, your document sharing needs, and the nature of your work environment. With these key considerations in mind, you’re well on your way to accomplishing your digital goals. Good luck!