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Creating a more secure, streamlined and efficient office

Simply implementing an 8-point ‘less-paper’ office can have an immediate positive impact on your business processes and also your bottom line, says Ann Dempster, managing director, Plum Software

Much has changed since the days when the FSA insisted that every document must be kept in hard copy. Modern offices are looking for looking for more and better ways to cut down on paper use and storage, which is not only expensive to maintain but can also carry fire and security risks. Although it’s impossible to create a truly paperless office, businesses that make a priority of cutting down their paper use are finding that less paper means a more secure, streamlined and efficient office.

Here are just some of the ways offices we work with are cutting down on their paper use. They:

1. Don’t print emails. If you have the right systems in place you’ll never need to print an email again. Outlook offers the capacity to save straight into designated client email folders. A good CMS system takes this a step further, saving emails straight into client files or other designated locations.

2. Enable electronic client verification. It’s worth investing in an online application system that eliminates the need to print and obtain hard copy signatures. This not only saves paper, it saves time and energy chasing up clients.

3. Use software with secure document storage. Make sure you have adequate storage capacity for your business needs now and as you grow. You can create documents, email and save straight into the right place for easy retrieval. This is not only more convenient, it helps with compliance.

4. Adopt a secure server for sending and receiving sensitive documents. You may already be saving paper by sending documents via email, but you may be surprised to know that email is no more secure than a postcard. Further, if signatures are required then sending via email still requires clients to print and sign.

5. Use email marketing software for the bulk of their lead and contact interactions. Not only can you save massive postage costs by doing marketing electronically. Good email marketing lets you create surveys, newsletters, marketing campaigns, landing pages and much more, plus you’ll be able to track client engagement, to see what each client or prospect has opened and clicked on. Using email marketing software gives you a richer and more varied way to interact with prospects and stay engaged with clients.

6. Create pdf versions of all marketing materials. Don’t rush to post a brochure to a prospect. It’s quicker and more efficient (and usually equally effective) to email a soft copy.7

7. Scan all documents and save to electronic files. There’s no getting around the fact that some documents will be in hard copy. By scanning and saving electronically you will always be able to find what you need, the documents will be secure, and depending on regulations, you may not even need to store the paper versions. Please note that to guarantee security you will need regular backups and potentially an off-site backup facility.

8. Do a paper audit. Find out which activities take the most paper and look for creative ways to digitalise.

It goes without saying that purchasing paper and postage, printing hard copies, and securely storing sensitive documents is the most expensive and least efficient method of document management. Doing just a few of these things will have an immediate impact on your business processes and bottom line. Done effectively, you will save money, easily maintain compliance, and never have to search for a document again.

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