Taking your small or midsize business paperless saves time and space. But undergoing a focused digital transformation offers big benefits to your business’ bottom line.

According to the  Environmental Protection Agency, going paperless can save up to 10,000 sheets of paper per employee each year.  Your company can expect to save up to $840 a year on printer ink alone.  Those numbers add up.

To create efficiencies and save big, follow the five suggestions below to help your company get on track to becoming a paperless office this year.

1. Find the right paperless document management software.

Your company needs to identify the right applications that work best for your employees and the daily document-filled tasks that they perform on a regular basis. These tasks may range from accounting and payroll to HR document management and records categorization and storage.

A cloud-based software solution allows workers to collaborate on files and records, to e-sign documents, and to share documents securely with others both inside and outside of the company.

In addition to security and protection from accidents such as fires or floods, a good paperless filing system will keep your company up-to-date and in compliance by ensuring retention and destruction schedules and identifying incomplete forms.

2. Upgrade your scanning systems.

Despite the positives of going paperless, paper use worldwide is estimated at 400 million tons per year and is steadily increasing. Because of this, your company will need to make scanning a large part of its digital transformation journey.

While many small and midsize businesses might be able to get away with purchasing a few all-in-one printers with scanning capabilities, other businesses may decide outsourced scanning makes more financial sense, especially when combined with offsite storage of inactive paper files. Outsourcing your scanning and document digitization services can help reduce the need for internal resources, streamline processes and help your employees avoid tedious paperwork.

3. Train your employees on paperless processes.

Digital transformation doesn’t happen unless your employees and colleagues have bought into the program and see clear benefits for themselves as well as the organization. If your goal is a paperless office, employees will need to be trained on new technologies and processes.

But training doesn’t need to be a huge time investment. The technique of “spaced learning” concentrates on employee training for only five minutes a day. In addition, if certain individuals prove to be fast learners, ask if they could help get others up to speed or invite them to join you on an implementation committee.

Before going paperless for good, make sure the majority of your employees are comfortable with the changes.

4. Move records to an offsite storage facility.

Once everything is in place for digital document management, it’s time to securely store your old paper files, ensuring you have a plan to ensure compliance with state and federal mandates. Now is also a good time to identify what types of files you will need to keep and what documents are no longer needed and ready for destruction or shredding.

Look into off-site records management storage facilities. Many will find storing off-site to be surprisingly affordable, compared to in-house, and can quickly locate and retrieve records as you request them (on-demand). Additionally, many offsite storage facilities take extra precautions to keep records safe from natural disasters including fires and floods.

5. Optimize your information governance

Just because your business is closer to being paperless doesn’t mean compliance can take a back seat. If you don’t have information governance practices in place, your business could be at a much higher risk to get hit with hefty fines and penalties. In 2016, FINRA fined 12 firms a total of $14.4 million for failing to protect records from alteration, and in 2018 a Texas cancer center was ordered to pay more than $4.3 million in penalties due to HIPAA violations.

If you need help setting up a strong information governance program, speak to a qualified consultant. A partner can help you assess your current policies, train employees, and offer suggestions for how to store paper and digital files while addressing compliance concerns.

For more information on document digitization and processes, listen to Brian’s on-demand webinar How to build a case and ROI for Document Scanning.

Brian Quinn is the Vice President of Conversion Services at Access.