Published : 10 July 2017
Right now you're probably think 'Why do I need a paper filing system when the overall aim is for my business to go paperless?' It's a good point, and it's exactly why we are looking at issues such as minimising printing and only capturing important documents.
Did you know that the 'paperless' office slogan is several decades old? Meant to describe the office of the future, it was first used in 1964. And that was to promote IBM's new video display computer terminals.
Is Paperless A Myth?
Business Week magazine used the phrase in 1975, and it just caught on. The paperless office would save us time, money and space; boost productivity, and save the planet.
Over time we have successfully managed to put most of this into action. Even so, recent research suggests that Australia's paper consumption is increasing. In fact, it will increase by 4.9% up to 2020. So there is definitely a need for an efficient filing system in your office.
Usually if a filing system fails, it's because it wasn't set up properly in the first place. And that's because there are a hundred different ways of doing it!
Turn Chaos Into Order
There's a great quote by MC Escher that says, 'We adore chaos because we love to produce order'. It's very true. So instead of scoffing at that really organised person in your office, get them to set up your filing system.
There really is an art to filing. The better organised it is, the smoother the business will run. It will also protect you on other levels, including legally.
The aim of any filing system, be it paper-based or digital, is to find exactly what you need, immediately. It's no good only you knowing where something important is! For efficiency, those records need to be available to all relevant staff.
When things go wrong, and they will, you need to quickly locate the relevant paperwork. This is especially true in client negotiations.
Client information may be confidential, and include email addresses and account numbers. These need to be kept secure. If that information gets into the wrong hands, you will face the consequences.
You also have a legal responsibility to keep certain records, such as income tax and GST documents. If you were suddenly audited, could you locate the necessary paperwork immediately?
Electronic vs Manual
Probably the most efficient system is a mix of electronic and manual filing. Electronic record keeping goes some way towards the paperless office, and makes it easier to produce reports. But remember to regularly back-up your system.
Choosing the right software is important and storing data in the Cloud has the advantage of being available everywhere there is an internet connection.
Manual record keeping is cheaper to set up, and there is no risk of hacking or online theft. However, it will require more hands-on management, and you will have to set your own reminders.
To do your bit for the paperless office, try and avoid printing out extra or unnecessary documents, and remember to use a recycle bin!
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