So You've Decided To Go Paperless, Now What?

The short answer is get busy, or pay someone to get busy for you. The decision to go paperless is by far the easiest part of the process. The actual act of becoming paperless is a monster, or at least that's what it seems like at the outset. Get busy attacking the paper monster and before you know it he'll just be a small nuisance coming up and nipping at your toes every now and then. How do you attack the paper monster? That's easy, a little bit at a time.

Come up with a clearly written out schedule and stick to it. Quantify it by either amount of files scanned in a day or number of hours spent scanning during the course of the day. I started out setting aside one hour a day scanning. Sometimes it ends up being a little more than an hour, but on average it's one solid hour of nothing but scanning. You could do the same if you want or choose instead measure by number of files scanned in a day. Make a goal to scan 10 files a day, whether that is all at one time or spread throughout your work day. The point is to get started and to chip away at the monster a little bit everyday. You may be able to do more or less than I do. That's probably up to you, your boss, your coworkers, or maybe your ability to hire someone to come in and do the scanning for you.

One misconception that I had when starting out was that I would just open a file, throw it in the scanner, and let her rip. I soon found out how wrong I was to assume it would be that easy. The thing that I hadn't planned for was the amount of paper or documents within some of our files that didn't need to be scanned because they were either outdated or obsolete. So many of our client files had statements in them that went back many years. These statements are not only available to us online but to our clients as well. Why make a digital copy of something that will likely never be needed, isn't required by compliance, and is already available in a digital form online.

This revelation was eye opening and made me realize that this business of becoming paperless was going to be much more involved than I first thought. It's really a very extensive exercise in becoming organized. Each file must be screened for useless documents prior to being scanned. The price of scanning the useless documents is that it makes searching for specific information at a later time that much harder. The important stuff would get lost in the crowd of all the meaningless stuff you don't need.

Now is the time to be ruthless with those bloated files of yours. Do you think you could do that. The thought of somebody being ruthless with a bunch of files is comical, but you get my meaning. Trim the fluff from those bloated files and make them lean mean fighting machines filled with nothing but relevancy.

That is the single most time consuming part, at least for me, of digitizing your files. Do you have to filter your files first? No, of course not, but it sure will help in the future if you ever need to retrieve that information. Some of you may be fortunate enough to already know without a doubt that every document in every file is important, and therefore, will be scanned. In that case all you need to do is get busy scanning.

  • Remember to attack the monster one day at a time.
  • Quantify each days work by time or number of files.
  • Set a goal and schedule for each the week and stick to it.
  • Filter useless paperwork from files to be scanned.
  • Get busy scanning or pay someone to get busy for you.