One of the easiest ways to make a business more eco-friendly is to go digital. This isn’t something that needs to be all or nothing – it can be fitted around the needs of individual businesses and can be taken on bit by bit in order to give staff time to get used to the software involved. Even small changes can ease the environmental footprint of a business. Larger ones can give it a competitive advantage at the same time.
The paperless office
When computers first began to be marketed for office use, it was said that they would lead to the development of the paperless office, in which absolutely everything would be handled digitally. Of course, that’s not quite the way things have turned out, but they do have the potential to substantially reduce the amount of paper used, and this has advantages that those early marketers could not have foreseen.
Reducing paper storage also reduces the amount of printing and scanning that needs to be done in the office, thereby reducing power use.
- Back-ups of files can be made much more easily, making the business much more resilient in the event of an accident like a fire or flood.
- Items like contracts that still need to be kept on paper can be given priority storage, making it easier to keep them safe.
Multiple staff members can access a file at once, speeding up the rate at which work can be done.
- Files can be made accessible to a wider range of people, using technologies like screen readers or simply by resizing text.
Access to some files can be restricted for security reasons; editing permissions can be limited on others so staff can access information without risk of it being altered.
Moving more material into electronic form also opens up the option of accessing it remotely, which makes it easier to outsource tasks where expertise is only needed on an occasional basis, reducing the amount of office space needed and the number of people who need to commute, both of which reduce an organization’s overall carbon footprint. Furthermore, when staff have the option of finishing work earlier by working on their commute, they are more likely to opt for public transport rather than driving to and from work, with obvious benefits for the environment.
Organizing digital business
To make a heavily digitized business work, it’s necessary to keep it well organized. In many ways it’s easier to do this than in a traditional business because, for instance, files can be indexed in several different ways at the same time to suit different kinds of usage. Unless the system is set up properly, however, it’s easy for things to become confused. There are three ways to handle this problem: setting it up slowly, with lots of careful planning; getting expert help to set it up; or using specialist document management tools designed to simplify the process.
Document management tools
The process of document management can be broken down into five key stages:
- Capture – scanning, optical character recognition (OCR), barcode scanning, etc., can be used to convert old paper files into digital form at speed, creating a digital archive of material extending back across the organization’s history.
- Storage – this covers both the physical environment in which files are kept and the indexing of those files through underlying database systems suitably engineered for the size of the business and the number of people needing to access them.
- Security – this includes both physical security (such as making back-ups to store in off-site safes) and digital security, protecting the system from hackers and preventing viral infection using specialist, frequently updated anti-viral software.
- Access – everything from enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which streamlines access within the office, to remote access management through cloud systems, ensuring that staff members can find what they want, whenever and wherever they want it.
- Integration – overarching systems designed to bring everything else together and custom fixes where necessary to resolve difficulties such as clashes between individual pieces of software.
Facing the challenge
Despite all this, making the switch over to a largely digital way of working can feel like a big challenge; it’s good to know that it’s one that doesn’t need to be faced alone. iDatix document management offers a substantial package of technical and product support for its customers, guaranteeing that help will be available as needed. With this kind of assistance, any company can move into the digital world with confidence.