As I look around at the lack of papers in my office, and think about all the paper enterprise-size organizations go through, I’m really loving the paperless movement. I only print things when necessary, and recycle all the paper I can (even going so far as using scraps for those notes I scribble when on the phone.)
But for an organization, there can be many more benefits to going paperless on a larger scale. Let’s take a look at some of those benefits.
Handle your files more efficiently
Online searching tools are more efficient at finding the file you need than a physical filing system. Especially when you’re dealing with a lot of files and perhaps even an unorganized filing system. Accountants often need to find a historical file, and can save time and effort by searching through online records instead.
Some studies say that accountants spend about 15 minutes per year per client on project wrap ups, annual reviews, and transfers to storage. Depending on the number of clients you have, that’s a lot of time not working on actual accounting. Your customer service rates will increase as well, since you’re able to handle any customer request quickly and efficiently. When they ask for a summary of the last three years worth of filings, you can find them fast.
Work more collaboratively
Paper-based systems make it difficult for multiple accountants to work on the same set of files. Moving to a paperless system means that you can share the documents with whomever you need to, like other accounting colleagues or clients. You’ll be removing any bottlenecks that happen, and sharing information and knowledge more easily.
While you can invest in professional document management systems like EMC Documentum, sometimes that’s a little out of reach for small business owners. In which case you can use tools like Hubdoc, Google Docs or Dropbox.
Recover office space
It’s true! By going paperless you can eliminate the need for all those filing cabinets, and recover the physical footprint in your office. Paper files take up a lot of room, and if you’ve been in business for a while, you probably have a lot of files. Reduce the need to move to larger offices or lease off-site storage for all your paper.
Save time by avoiding the printer
Since the average office worker makes more than 60 trips to the printer per week, taking about 3 minutes per trip, that’s approximately three hours per week wasted. Storing all of your documents and using online tools like the ones mentioned above will give you back those three hours every week.
Save money by eliminating paper bills
Whether it’s by switching to electronic statements, paying your bills and invoices online, using online invoicing services like FreshBooks, or online payment merchants like Square, there are so many options out there to save money. Companies like Bill.com are noticing this switch. In the past year, Bill.com says they’ve seen electronic payments increase to 60% of overall payments, growing 100% year on year.
Finally “do” disaster recovery
The threat of water or fire damage to physical files is a constant worry for any accounting business. And you may have even been avoiding the whole issue by ignoring it. However by moving documents to a digital format and then storing those off-site in the cloud, you’ve removed that worry. Not only are storage firms set up to handle the physical threats to your data like fire or water, they’re such pros that they’re ready to shoulder the responsibility to handle your data. They’re the experts, so let them deal with it. You’re now freed up to concentrate on your accounting business more fully, being present for your customers.
These are just some of the benefits to going paperless in your accounting business. Have you already made the switch? What’s the biggest benefit you’ve noticed since you made that switch?