One of the most popular excuses many businesses give for needing ‘in office’ personnel is access to paper files residing in a file cabinet. Some businesses have whole rooms full of metal filing cabinets. Within those metal behemoths are file folders stuffed with paperwork that may or may not be needed in the daily running of the business.
I say ‘may not’ because I’ve worked in offices where at least two-thirds of the file cabinets in the office were never opened. Yet there they stood, housing who knows what kinds of information that was no longer pertinent to the daily running of business, taking up valuable space because no one knew what to do with it. Chances are they contained sensitive information in some of those long forgotten files that should have been disposed of in a secure manner.
We’ve been using computers in offices for decades, so why are so many businesses still clinging to the file cabinet like a security blanket?
Especially since the consensus is that electronic files are so much easier to deal with. In some cases, it’s because it’s believed that moving to a fully electronic file system is hard. It’s not. For businesses with a large amount of paper files it may be time consuming to scan those already existing paper files into electronic form, but once that task is done, a totally electronic files system is going to make life easier and faster, with no room needed for those ugly file cabinets.
If you need more convincing to abandon those metal monstrosities, also known as the file cabinet, here you go:
- Electronic files are easier to store, organize, archive and even delete should the need arise.
- Electronic files are easily accessible.
- Electronic files can be changed and corrected easier.
- Electronic files make it easy to collaborate with others.
- Electronic files can be secured and/or encrypted for higher security than paper files.
- Moving to an electronic file system, while possibly appearing expensive to begin, will end up saving you a lot of money. No more boxes of paper, smaller office space needs, shorter turnaround times when exchanging documents, no more lost paperwork. 84% of businesses say that they saw a return on the investment of going electronic within 18 months. It’s all straight up money savings from there.
- An electronic filing system will make your business more efficient.
Moving to a totally electronic file system isn’t as hard, or as expensive as you may think either. Yes, you may need to scan in currently existing paper documents, but once it’s done, it’s done.
Some tips for transitioning to an electronic filing system:
- Start with your current files/documents. All new information gets created electronically and then work backwards to scan older paper files. If this is too difficult or overwhelming for your current staff, hire someone to convert your paper files to electronic versions. Once paper files are converted, shred old paper files.
- Use this as an opportunity to get rid of old files that should have been destroyed years ago. Shred these files, or if there is an over-abundance of them, consider a mass shredding service.
- Encourage those who send you documents and information to send electronic versions rather than paper. Have a scanner in office and make sure that any paper documents are scanned into electronic format immediately. Switch to a fax service that delivers faxes in electronic form to email.
- Create an easily followed electronic storage system to make searching for and finding electronic documents easy.
- Consider an online file storage system which can be accessible from anywhere on whatever device you may be using. No more headaches from leaving a needed file at the office. Snow day? Being able to access files and software online means work can still be done as usual.
The file cabinet remains the silent sentinels to the ridiculousness of paper files in this age of technology. Be brave. That hulking file cabinet isn’t doing you any favors. Save your business time, money and make it more efficient. You and your staff will be glad you did.