You’ve heard the buzz about going paperless, and if you’re like many business owners, the idea might make you laugh out loud.
You may think: How could I possibly get by without all those documents, which are under all those sticky notes for things I’d like to do–meanwhile I’m spending all day putting out fires, so I never get to any of these papers anyway!
You may even tell yourself you’re happier working this way, but it’s most likely not true. Even though we stubbornly hold on to old ways of doing things, most of us aren’t very effective at organizing papers, which means the old way of doing organizing your business is less effective and more stressful.
That’s why going paperless can be a gift to yourself and your team, as well as a major boost to your business productivity. It means putting computers and software to work for you!
Try Out Our 4-Week Plan for Going Paperless
We’d love to help you jump in and make this easy. Here’s your week by week plan for knocking this out for your contracting business in just four weeks!
This is about getting to the point of operational and day-to-day paperless productivity, not necessarily the absolute elimination of paper or offline backups.
Week 1: Select Your Digital Workspace
It’s important to know the space you’re moving into–even if it’s virtual space! To manage the ins and outs of your business, look for a straightforward tool that offers customer relationship management or CRM (for all those customer files and contact details) as well as project management (for workflows, paperwork, communication, you name it!).
Then, block off some time to jump into a free trial or two. You can look around and play with features to get a feel for what’s possible, and it can help to take a few notes. This is about aiming for your target.
For example, the JobNimbus for desktop and mobile makes it easy to create, edit, and access digital paperwork, attachments, customer notes, photos, and more. Our users can also convert company documents to templates to send out to JobNimbus contacts via email. Plus, you can leverage our integrations with other paperless-friendly tools like:
- QuickBooks: Bookkeeping and accounting
- WePay: Accept payments in the office or on the job site, right from the JobNimbus app
- naturalForms: Create and edit dynamic forms from the JobNimbus app, including fillable contracts, scoping sheets, and sales slicks
- SalesRabbit: Map out your canvassing campaigns, track leads, and coordinate your sales team
- Company Cam: Snap GPS-directed smart photos that link right to a customer, annotate images, and much more
Go ahead and spend more time on this stage if you can. To understand your chosen digital workspace even better, consider signing up for free or paid training the software company offers, join webinars, and other learning opportunities. All this will inform your next steps toward going paperless.
Week 2: Divide and Conquer
This week is all about taking control over every piece of paper in your work environment, whether on your own or as a team.
First, sort your papers into piles. Keep in mind, the scanning step you’ll do the following week will be much easier if you limit these piles. The number is up to you, and consider reading next week’s section of this article for some ideas on different strategies for scanning in these papers. Looking ahead in this way can help you aim with your sorting.
Tip: One way to start this is to sort your files into two piles: “scan for daily use” and “scan for backup” and “discard.” That last pile may be your most important of all–In many cases, it’s better to get rid of stuff rather than organizing and re-organizing it. But again, every office is different, so the method is up to you.
Week 3: Scan and Shred Like It’s Going Out of Style!
The easy way to do this is to pay for it. The trade-off is, both scanning and shredding get expensive fast. Whether your team does it or you send it to a third-party, strategy is essential. This comes down to personal taste, but here are two popular methods.
Method A: Some business owners like to think of file organization like bringing boxes of stuff into a new house. It takes time to decide which thing goes in which cupboard. When you scan a ton of papers, you’ll still need to determine in which files those PDFs or images end up. The benefit is, once you have everything in place, as long as you can remember and communicate your system to others, everyone knows which “cupboard” to look in for a scanned document.
Method B: Others prefer to leverage programs that can keyword-search the PDFs you create when you digitize your documents. It’s more like having a butler who retrieves your file, without you needing to worry about where you put it two years ago. This is why some experts advise scanning a whole bunch of related documents into one PDF or using software with more advanced search capabilities.
If the shredding part leaves you nervous, you can always wait to do that a few weeks or months down the road, once you’re sure you like the transition to digital documentation. You can also decide to function as a paperless company, with your hard copies tucked into storage somewhere offsite. It’s all about using digitization to increase productivity, and the nuances are entirely up to you.
Week 4: Test and Refine
By this point, all your records and paperwork should be in place, so now live with it for a week! Ask your team to keep notes and evaluate what’s working and what needs re-working. Everything’s negotiable.
Note: This is also a great time to document your paperless processes to ensure paper bloat doesn’t creep right back in. For example, you may have all your estimates scanned in now, but if your team uses the JobNimbus mobile app, all future estimates will be digitally created, signed, and saved along with customer notes.
As you test and refine your processes, keep in mind that moving toward digital tools and storage can take an adjustment, but most people find the advantages far outweigh any initial discomfort or learning curve.
Reach Out for Help
As you go through this process, it can help to make a list of what to get done each day. And don’t forget a daily reward! Breaking it down in this way keeps things more fun and manageable. This is about creating a new, freeing, and results-driven business culture where you control information and processes.
So go ahead, jump in with Week 1! The JobNimbus team is available to help with ideas, solutions, and encouragement, so please reach out. We’d love to help.