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Fluix eBook Going Paperless .pdf


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THE DEFINITIVE
GUIDE TO GOING
PAPERLESS
eBook

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

Every business in every industry has at least one thing in common: there
is paper everywhere.
Since the 1970s, the concept of the “paperless office” has been on the
horizon. Computers were supposed to do away with the need to print
and copy documents, and email and online systems meant that sharing
documents electronically would be the final nail in the paper coffin.
Judging by the tray of discarded printouts beside every office printer, this
has clearly not happened. While we may not yet have achieved the
paperless office envisioned in the 20th century, modern tools have made
going paperless more possible than ever.
This paper explains the key benefits of going paperless, exactly how to do
it, action items for going paperless no matter which stage your business
is at, and how to keep your electronic documents safe and secure.

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

What Does “Paperless” Mean?
You’ll notice that the word is paperless not paper-free. More and more
information is going digital, but chances are you are not going to
eliminate 100% of paper from your business.
This is an important point, because it will save you frustration trying to
eliminate that last bit of paper when your time would be better served
running your business.
In this paper, “paperless” means identifying where it makes sense to
reduce incoming paper and, in those cases, shift incoming and stored
documents to electronic format.
It means having access to the documents that you need, right when you
need them, and from wherever you need them.

6 Key Benefits of Going Paperless
Now that the term “paperless” has been clarified, there are some
compelling reasons why you may want to implement a paperless process
in your business.
In this section, we will look at five key benefits of going paperless.
1

Productivity

Manually filing, retrieving, and re-filing paper is a time consuming,
laborious, and error-prone process.
With digital filing, filing is faster, retrieval can be faster, and there is no
re-filing needed.
Staff has access to the information they need and will have more time to
focus on value-added activities. This will also allow for improved
customer service, as time chasing down information is reduced and
customers can be responded to more quickly.

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

Key document workflows (such as document routing and signature
capture) can be automated, which greatly improves efficiency and
reduces errors. This means that signed contracts and other
documentation can be sent directly from the field so back office
processing and invoicing does not have to wait for salespeople to return
to the office with physical documents.

2

Reduce storage space

Whether there are piles of paper everywhere
or you have documents neatly filed away in
filing cabinets, there is no escaping reality:
the more paper you have, the more physical
space you need.

3

Data Capture and Export

Data can be easily captured in uniform ways
on PDF forms. Messy handwriting and
variance in types of entries are no longer an

Going paperless, by the
numbers
2014 AIIM Industry Watch report:

60

%

manually or exported directly into systems
via the XFDF (XML Forms Data Format) file

77% within 18 months.

AIIM’s 2016 report found:

25

%

Searchability

Electronic documents can be searched not
just by the name of the files but by the text
contents of the documents. This means that
even if an electronic document becomes
mis-filed, it can still be located via search.

of 2016 respondents
indicate they run a
clear/paper-free
environment; up from 18%
in last year’s report.

68

%

of respondents indicate
the use of PDF forms for
electronic data capture
and 33% are using

format.
4

their paper-free projects
within 12 months, with

issue. Also, the data captured in these PDFs
can then be stored and either transcribed

of users have seen ROI on

password secured
e-signing

66
40

%

still sign contracts, booking
forms, etc on paper

%

of respondents say there
are a number of
paper-free processes
already in place and they
are looking to do more

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

It also opens additional dimensions for locating and accessing
documents. Searching by keyword, date, or other metadata allows the
user to jump right to the document (or group of documents) they are
looking for without needing to dig through folders.

5

Backup and Security

Electronic documents can have granular levels of access so that only
those who have been authenticated can have access to them. More
advanced systems allow you to track who has accessed, changed, and
shared which document.
Data can be backed up to multiple offsite locations in case of fire, flood,
or equipment malfunction. While paper can be copied, each copy
requires additional physical space.
This becomes a double problem. The more space paper takes up, the
more the square footage costs. At the same time, space taken up by
physical paper is not productive space. The more physical space paper
takes up, the less space is available for staff, production, or revenue
generating activities.

6

Accessibility and Collaboration

If desired, some or all paperless documents can be accessed from any
location on any device. The “I forgot the file folder back at the office”
problem is eliminated.
Paperless documents can be temporarily or permanently shared with
others to enable collaboration, wherever they are in the world. Changes
to documents can be tracked and rolled back. With a document workflow
solution, version control issues are eliminated as administrators can
ensure that all users are using the most up-to-date documents.

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

Unlocking the Power Of PDF
If you are going paperless, you will almost certainly be storing your
documents in the PDF format.
PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and while it was developed by
Adobe, it has been an open standard since 2008.
The key advantage of using the PDF format is it allows you to display
documents as intended no matter what platform or device they are being
viewed on.
Fortunately, creating a PDF is easy. Nearly every scanner comes with the
ability to scan to PDF (make sure you are choosing that format in the
scanner settings), and both macOS and Windows 10 or later can print to
PDF. In most cases, documents you download from the web will already
be in PDF format.

Searchable PDFs
A key advantage of PDF is the ability to view the document exactly as
intended. Searchable PDFs take this one step further, and allow your
device to search by the text inside the document itself. This unlocks the
ability to quickly find documents by keywords.
By default, a PDF document is simply an image of a document that
human eyes can see. By applying Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
technology, an invisible layer of text can be embedded inside the PDF,
allowing computers or other devices to see the text inside the document
as well. Many scanners come bundled with OCR software, so often
creating a searchable PDF is as simple as enabling the feature in the
scanner software. There are also third-party OCR software packages that
can make any document a searchable PDF. Most downloaded PDFs or
PDFs generated from software such as Microsoft Word are already
searchable.

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

PDF Forms
In the past, forms needed to be filled out manually on paper, and then
the forms could be scanned in and/or the data in the form would be
manually input into a computer system. This is inefficient and
error-prone.
PDF forms can be created that allow data to be input straight to the form,
and the form can be routed and data captured electronically. Common
examples of these PDF forms include checklists, contracts, time cards and
work orders.

Electronic Signatures
With a paper-based signing process, documents need to be mailed,
physically signed, and mailed back leading to delays and loss.
PDFs allow you to collect signatures digitally and securely. The time to
have contracts or other documents approved and revenue collected can
be dramatically reduced, leading to increased profit and customer
satisfaction.

Archiving and Future Proofing
An advantage of the PDF format is that it is an open standard and device
independent, so there is no risk of vendor or platform lock-in.
There is an additional international standard for PDFs designated for
long-term archiving called PDF/A. PDF/A is a PDF that forbids anything
that could hinder long-term archiving or display. For example, fonts must
be embedded and not linked and encryption and most external
attachments are forbidden. Many PDF applications and some scanner
software programs support the creation of PDF/A.

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

Implementing A Paperless Process
In future sections, we will discuss what components you need for a
paperless process, but how do you start making the transition in a way
that will give you the best chance for success? Here are some tips.

1

Start with A Goal
Many organizations jump in and implement technology, but it can be
helpful to start with a goal. What will your organization look like when it
has “gone paperless”? What goals are you trying to achieve and what
problems are you trying to solve?
By starting with a goal, you’ll have something to measure success against
and something to keep you on track.

2

Do an Initial Paper Audit
Where is paper coming in to your organization? Who is using it for what?
Where are things being printed and what types of documents are being
printed? Where is the paper ending up? Are there obvious inefficiencies in
the current workflow? Just mapping it out can often tell you this.
Some paper can be eliminated right off the bat. Others it will make sense
to shift to digital. In some cases, you will want to or need to keep it in
paper format.

3

Get Buy-In from Management
Any type of process or productivity change will be difficult if it is not
supported by management, the higher level the better. Consider
approaching from an ROI perspective this by quantifying efficiencies you
project you’ll gain and cost savings (paper, storage costs).

sales@fluix.io • +1 888-901-5382

4

Assign Responsibilities
Someone needs to be a champion for the project, and will be responsible
for driving change and implementing solutions. The department(s)
impacted will also need to be involved and ideally part of an
implementation team.

5

Identify Key Targets
Your initial paper audit should reveal some low-hanging fruit that will
have the biggest impact. Identify those areas where going paperless will
have the biggest impact, or the areas that will be the biggest challenges.

6

Identify Solutions and Timeline
This will be covered in a later section, but the champion or team will
identify the components of the paperless process and how and when the
transition will occur.

7

Train the Trainers
Make sure champions and key stakeholders are trained in the solution,
so they can then help others use and troubleshoot the paperless process.

8

Start Small
It is best to start with a small pilot project, which will identify challenges
and make it easier to roll out area by area.

9

Roll Out
Once the pilot project is completed and feedback is implemented, roll it
out to other areas (in phases if appropriate), making sure employees are
fully trained and supported.


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