Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Going Paperless - One step closer to a carbon neutral office!

"I became obsessed.  Every single piece of paper I saw on someone’s desk I picked up and read.  I didn’t want to see it."
The idea of going paperless was not something that I planned.  It started out when I decided to investigate an alternative to faxing.

The nature of our business meant we received hundreds of faxes per week.  Faxes go missing no matter how organized you think you are.  Especially when we have a combined fax, printer.  People often pick up something they printed but don't check whether they have inadvertently picked up a fax.

STEP 1 - Ditch the fax machine.
I had one of my team members, Daisy, look into a fax to email solution.

We decided on faxmate. It was cheap.  In fact far cheaper than our fax line cost us and they had an inexpensive porting option which meant we could get rid of our fax line all together but retain our existing fax number.

Our technology provider TLA Software then developed a simple database which all our faxes forwarded to.  Now all our faxes were in an electronic format.

STEP 2 - Give everyone a second monitor
Daisy continued to help me iron out any issues.

We found that it was really annoying if you had to transpose information from a fax into our enterprise solution so she started printing up the faxes.... so I bought her another monitor.  This meant she was able to have the fax in an electronic format on one monitor and the enterprise system open on the other.

Then everyone got a second monitor.  Got them really cheap from Catch of the Day. 

Just a side note to this, some of the PC’s we had required an adapter to accommodate the second monitor. Cost if buying from a retailer is around $100 but you can buy online for half this. 

The benefits were immediate.  We weren’t ringing people and asking them to fax something they had already faxed, we were saving paper, documents were being filed accurately and immediately and even our invoicing was quicker. And the office was tidier. You could see the efficiencies.

Robert was happy!

STEP 3 - Stop people sending me stuff in an envelope
Now I was obsessed.  Every single piece of paper I saw on someone’s desk I picked up and read.  I didn’t want to see it.

So we started ringing suppliers to see if they could email us invoices.   I have to say I was surprised at how many businesses still could not email me invoices. Hopefully they will read this blog.
‘…..we used to print up staff payslips.
Not any more!

STEP 4 - Stop sending out stuff in envelopes
We rang all our staff and asked them for an email address. I can't believe we had not done this before.  We pay up to around 100 staff each week and we used to print up their payslips.  Not any more!

Now I haven't noticed a reduction in mail yet but I hope to be able to report back in the coming months that this is the case
STEP 5 - Get a really cool scanner
This is the next step in our quest for a paper free office

The problem I have is that I don't want to get just a standard all in one from Officeworks. I have been researching and found some really cool scanners which have cameras on both sides of the paper. This means that the paper is only fed through once.

The hurdles in getting one is the price, around $3000, and the availability. It has hard to actually find a model to demonstrate. They seem to be an 'order in' product

STEP 6 - Now what do I do with the paper I have scanned?
Now I have all my documents scanned into an electronic format what do I do with the original? At the moment we are just putting them into an archive box. In theory I should be able to destroy the original but I just don't have the courage just yet do this.

The benefits of going paperless have been enormous. I wish I did it years ago. I'd love to hear from other people who have gone paperless.