Business trends are pushing owners to look into faster and more efficient processes in the work place. Electronic files, bigger servers and faster transmissions are quickly becoming a necessity for anyone hoping to keep up with their clients and outrun their competition. But why have a paperless office? Are there really benefits for your customer and your business?
The answer is, YES! We have all seen the offices with hundreds of client files and paper galore. You can recognize those offices when you call and are put on hold for 5 minutes while they rummage through your file to find one piece of paper that holds the answer to your one question.
The traditional office filing system can be categorized into three main parts: bulk, reference and archive. Currently, this basic filing system is used by the majority of small and large businesses all around the United States. Let’s break down these parts and see why it is so important to go against this trend and utilize a paperless office.
Bulk – That one piece of paper has unlimited power of endless expansion. As you guide your client through your business process, it is common to update forms and information, make records and take notes. Over time, their file grows wider and heavier. Before you know it you are left with a 5x12 expandable file that weighs almost 5 pounds. That’s 5 pounds of PAPER! One file might not seem like a big deal, but what is going to happen as your business grows? In the blink of an eye, that one file has turned into 200 and the paper in your file room now weighs almost half a ton and stretches over 80 feet long! That is longer than 2 full size school buses parked nose to nose! Possibilities are endless with that extra 80 feet of office space. Think about the bulk. How often do your employees access those files and move that weight around? With current technology, it is so easy to minimize the wasted time and strain that businesses go through to keep a paper filing system.
Reference – We have all heard the same line when we call into a business or doctor’s office, “Please hold while I go pull your file.” Now imagine that your entire file was accessed from the computer. Would there be a need to be put on hold? Probably not. Most electronic filing systems and billing systems are searchable by file name and file content. Working in a paperless office has made my job as the bookkeeper so much easier when clients call to ask about a specific bill. I have no need to rummage through their “billing” folder of their file; rather, I can pull up their client name in less than 15 seconds! Not only are my clients happy that I can quickly and easily answer their questions, but I am able to be much more productive during the day because everything is at my fingertips. As much as we are here to please our clients, what business owner is going to be opposed to having a more productive staff?
Archive – Depending on the type of business you conduct with a specific client, you may retain them for years or take care of them in a week. As a legal office, no matter the issue, our policy is to retain our client files for at least seven years. Does it make sense to keep 7+ years of client files in a dusty storage room? Better yet, are you REALLY going to have time to go through those seven year-old files year after year and purge them? Storage rooms cost money. Maintaining the files in a storage room costs valuable time. It’s not easy to put a price on time when most of your day is spent working 10+ hours to make sure your business is running efficiently. Technology is available to make these archived files available at your fingertips, so why not utilize it?
At Gutwein Law, we understand the effect that just ONE piece of paper has on a growing office and we want to make sure we aren’t contributing to the bulk. We utilize an electronic filing system which allows us to access information with a click of the mouse. We can send forms or letters via email in the form of a PDF or Microsoft document, so that our clients do not have to come to our office or wait for the mail. Additionally, we now offer electronic billing statements, so soon as statements are processed they can be emailed directly to our clients. Join us in battling the bulk!
About the Author - Tommi Perdue
Tommi is the bookkeeper at Gutwein law. She has her Associates degree in accounting from Harrison College and is also a Certified Payroll Professional.