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    The Biggest Mistakes Companies are Making

    By Matt Peterson, President and CEO of eFileCabinet

    The paperless office is a revolution that has made the world stand up and take notice of its relevance, efficiency, and sustainability as a scalable technology that extends beyond the simple act of using digital copies to replace paper documentation.

    In an expanding marketplace driven by competitive differentiation, small and medium enterprises face the challenge of establishing and running a responsive, cost-efficient, customer-centric, and profitable enterprise. More importantly, these businesses represent the future of the world's economy.

    Lending and insurance institutions recognize this, while technology platform providers and software development firms are not far behind. While the world scrambles to catch up with the needs of small and medium businesses, the businesses face tremendous pressures from their investors, stakeholders, and an unforgiving market environment to grow as quickly and safely as possible.

    The Path to Growth: Speed and Safety

    From tickets to a NFL game to digitized boarding passes, school admissions forms, and customized workflow software, paperless solutions are beginning to shape the way people interact with their environment. The paperless office is a revolution that has made the world stand up and take notice of its relevance, efficiency, and sustainability as a scalable technology that extends beyond the simple act of using digital copies to replace paper documentation. It represents a change in the way people share, analyze, and act on information.

    A quick glimpse of some of the most promising startups in the world can form a case study about the importance of data security and the need for the stringent control of intellectual property. Several growing enterprises have suffered severe financial losses and lost competitive advantage over the careless storage and management of their intellectual assets -- most of them in the form of physical documents. In a rapidly expanding knowledge economy, unsecured information can be detrimental to a company's expansion.

    In recent times, large corporations have discovered the benefits of using cloud document management software that eliminates the need for paper in a phased manner. However, small and medium business environments are the ideal testing grounds for paperless systems. A typical home business employing two to eight people stands to save over $10,000 a year by going completely paperless. Technological advancements in cloud-based secure document storage and the improvements in mobility and portability of information allow a home business to grow exponentially faster than a company that relies on paper trails.

    The path to growing quickly and safely is a choice that businesses must make in cognizance of the fact that a paperless office can deliver significant security benefits to small and medium businesses.

    Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Document Storage

    More often than not, small businesses choose document storage solutions based on what works for a competitor or for a partner firm without understanding their own data storage needs in their infrastructure landscape.

    Choosing Security over Price

    One of the most common mistakes that can be avoided is choosing cloud document management software that offers “storage” at the lowest price. Inexpensive software typically offers generic storage, no definite control over access permissions, and insufficient data retention capabilities. A secure cloud storage and management system ensures that your business data is encrypted and access controlled — to internal and external stakeholders with appropriate naming conventions.

    Some of the world's top risk standards including the BS7799, ISO/IEC 27002, COSO, SOX, and HIPAA may not be immediately applicable to a home office, but the principles of information security management that they outline can certainly benefit a home office or small business by strengthening controls and providing a business with the operational practices that helps win clients. As mentioned, data theft and the loss of intellectual property could have a severe impact on a company's profitability, reputation, and even its survival.

    Choosing a risk-compliant document management system that incorporates secure storage, digital signatures, and mobile accessibility can help your business avoid security lapses and unnecessary liabilities.

    Requirement Planning

    Feature-rich cloud document management software may be advertised as the greatest thing in the world and “ideal” for your business. Before your office considers going paperless, it is important to understand and document your business requirements. This helps you avoid buying large, complex software that comes with a promise of scalability and profitability, but leaves your organization scrambling to train employees about how the system is used.

    Analyzing your organization's requirements is a simple series of tasks that involves all stakeholders in order to identify the need for document management software. As the scope and cross-functional implications are made clear through discussions and analysis at all levels, your business is better placed to understand if you need a desktop-based document management system or a cloud-based one.

    Strategic Planning and Setting Expectations

    Going paperless is a decision that must be deployed in planned phases with an overall strategic goal. Managing cultural, operational and technological change requires clear communication and discussions with each department to identify potential roadblocks and to estimate the effectiveness of the document management software.

    A project plan — with definite deliverables, specific deadlines, and measurable, achievable goals — forms the foundation of a paperless office deployment. As an organization, you need to roll out specific go-live and spillover dates that fit into your operational calendar in order to be able to enjoy the benefits of smooth transition. This project plan, when communicated with relevant stakeholders, must be accompanied by communiqués and focus group discussions that set expectations about what a paperless solution is and the boundaries of its capabilities. Such sessions may also be used to manage expectations of the behavioral changes required to ensure a successful transition to a paperless office.

    Training and Integration

    As your business commences the journey to complete paperless operations, training is by far, the most important component of the transition. While going paperless can seem like an environmentally responsible and a cost-saving initiative to senior management, it can seem complex and user-unfriendly to your line and staff. Training your staff at all levels about the features and capabilities of comprehensive document management software, while addressing the specific advantages and limitations it has and inviting feedback and clarifying doubts about the efficacy of such a solution, can go a long way in overcoming the resistance to change and mitigating the fear of using such a system.

    Such a training program also needs to educate users at different administrative levels about the nature of the paperless office (cloud or desktop) being used and clearly lay out how the software should be used and the specific dos and don'ts of such a system. Identifying document types, their naming conventions, access permissions, and changes to operational processes in a paperless environment are some of the key topics that need to be covered as part of a phased training program that supports the deployment of a paperless office. As an outcome of such training, every employee in the organization should be aware of how to access, retrieve, process, and back up digital documents. An important aspect of such training is to create awareness about the digitization of physical documents and their storage and the risks of data loss.

    If your organization employs an IT infrastructure team or works with a third-party vendor, they need to be trained in the maintenance and full back-up of data in the paperless system. Vendors and other stakeholders may also need to be trained and integrated into the paperless office with minimal operational disruption.

    From Paper to Paperless

    The careful planning, training, integration, and deployment of a paperless office rely on the efficient and effective implementation of a project plan and the avoidance of technical and behavioral roadblocks. A paperless office can deliver short-term, medium-term, and long-term benefits to a home office or small and medium business that can have a beneficial impact on profitability, productivity, efficiency, risk profile, and even the cultural fabric of a company. A well-executed paperless office implementation can save your business thousands of dollars a year, while propelling growth and contributing meaningfully to saving the environment. HBM

    Matt Peterson is the CEO of Lehi, Utah based eFileCabinet, Inc. Founded in 2001, eFileCabinet, Inc. began as a cutting-edge tool to digitally store records in accounting firms. As it grew in popularity, eFileCabinet developed into a full-fledged electronic document management solution designed to help organizations capture, manage, and protect their data. While the accounting industry was the company’s main focus at formation, it has since expanded to include numerous vertical markets. eFileCabinet, Inc. distributes its solutions both direct and through a worldwide network of Value-Added-Resellers and strategic partners that customize solutions to meet their client’s specific needs. www.efilecabinet.com  V20-6 Add:01/14 HP:



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