Stop what you're doing right now and take a look around your workstation. Unless you are sitting at a local cafe or reading this in bed, chances are there are some computer printouts or reports within arm's length. For some of us, this can add up to quite a lot of paper indeed.
While the ideal of the "paperless" office never quite materialized as originally envisioned, we are at a unique intersection in affordable, yet highly available storage, common document formats and interconnectedness, making it possible to dramatically reduce the role of paper in our offices. For SMBs and enterprises alike, reduced reliance on paper not only saves space or money, but also offers an opportunity to demonstrate environmental responsibility.
While I've written on the topic of reducing paper consumption in the office before, Chris Strammiello, vice president of product management and product marketing at Nuance sent along some tips to help.
I've reproduced some of them below, and appended my own thoughts about how SMBs can practically implement them.
Strammiello: Make document scanning available to everyone - Decentralize scanning with multifunction peripherals (MFPs) and desktop scanners so anyone can scan documents into a business application. This step will allow the person most familiar with the information to capture documents, which improves productivity and speeds workflows.
Mah: One critical but overlooked aspect of digitizing (or scanning) documents into archival systems is the availability of a document feeder. After all, nobody wants to scan documents one at a time on a flatbed scanner. The downside, though, is that scanners with the proper document-feeder attachment or dedicated document scanners tend to be expensive. With proper planning, however, it is possible to seed the office with multifunctional printers with built-in document feeders for a cost much lower than that of a stand-alone printer and document scanner.
Strammiello: Improve document handling - Save time - and money - by unlocking the information that's trapped within increasingly common PDF file format documents by using document-conversion software to convert those PDF documents into Word, Excel and other editable formats. This mitigates the risk of typing errors and the costs of retyping documents.
Mah: Some of the newer PDF software on the market, such as the free Nuance PDF reader, comes with the ability to convert PDF files back to source formats such as Word, Excel or RTF. Depending on businesses processes, some organizations might find this capability irresistible.
Strammiello: Resist the urge to print [by using] large monitors - Monitor prices continue to drop. Larger monitors reduce eye strain and make it easy for everyone to view document images at their desktops.
Mah: I've always been an advocate of increasing productivity by the use of an additional monitor. This is especially pertinent as more SMBs make the switch to laptops, which comes with correspondingly smaller displays. Do remember to pair it with a good monitor stand that allows you to position your screen at just the right position.
Do you have any suggestions on how to reduce the role of paper in corporations? Feel free to give us your feedback below.