We are trying to do our part to keep the planet green by going paperless, but it is difficult for accountants to give up our beloved documents! Here are a few suggestions on how to reduce your paper footprint:
First, find a good scanner which means one that scans multiple pages and gives you options on what you want to do with it. Ours handles regular documents as well as business cards which is nice.
Next figure out what you will do for centralized data storage. This can be done with a file server or by using cloud based storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive or SugarSync. Most of these offer initial space free. We just had to pay for our Dropbox upgrade as we are converting our old paper files into cloud based.
You will want to make sure your files are searchable. Windows 7 and 8 offer Fast Find and there are other tools/apps which provide the same service such as Voidtools Everything, dtSearch Desktop and Copernic Desktop Search.
Having a paperless Fax will reduce the amount of paper you need. RingCentral, PATLive, MyFax and RapidFax are all options for this service.
You can also reduce your paper footprint by using an online calendar and CRM system for contracts and To Do lists. Microsoft Outlook provides this service as does Google.
Paperless bill management is another way to reduce your waste. Manilla, Mint, CalendarBudget and MyCheckFree are options and many financial institutions offer this service as well. We email all our invoices so we don't use paper or envelopes or stamps. Our clients have the option of printing the invoices if they wish or just keeping the electronic record.
Expense reporting can also be done paperless with Expensify or Concur. Many bill and expense management options work well with mobile devices which makes it easier than ever to gather the information for recordkeepers.
Finally, you can prepare and review financial statements in a paperless manner by viewing them on your computer screen. The availability of large screens for meetings means you can project the financials so everyone can see them without the need for printing them.
Going paperless is not only good for the planet, it also is good for your bottom line. Less paper means less expense!