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Going Paperless…What it Takes
Going paperless may seem daunting. You probably have some level of anxiety about not having a piece of paper at the ready. Maybe if you don’t write something down, you won’t remember to do it. Maybe if you can’t print directions to your next meeting, you’ll be lost like a fish out of water. Here’s a secret: going paperless is achievable – even for you- and it just takes forming a few new habits.
Technology is your best friend when it comes to going paperless. What is most important about technology is that it is SUPER affordable. What’s more, you may already have the tools and not realize it.
1. Share drafts electronically using share programs like Google Docs, Basecamp, or similar software/online features. These programs allow private (password protected), controlled sharing of draft and final copies of documents with your clients. You can monitor who has the document open for review, who made certain changes or comments, even if someone reviewed the document or not using unique usernames. My clients like engineers, attorneys, photographers, and consulting firms have found this tool not only cost-effective (Google Docs is FREE, for example) and money is not spent printing and then shipping documents, but also a productivity tool because they are able to manage each document as they would a project within their firm. What a bonus that is!
2. Email invoices and receipts to customers using smart phone/iPad/tablet apps or with some minor costs, accounting software programs. Banks, grocery stores, drug stores, temporary retail marquees (think farmers markets or event expos) are swiftly moving toward generating electronic billing statements and credit card/cash receipts for clients so that they can save on the costs of paper, credit card machines, etc. When we are on client sites, we spend the last ten minutes of each audit or consulting visit talking about next steps and generating an invoice for our client. Not only does this assist in generating immediate revenue into the business, it has increased customer satisfaction because the client is PART OF the invoicing process: they know exactly what we are charging for and why. The process includes generating an electronic invoice on our iPad through Quickbooks online ($9.99/month), and then emailing it to the client immediately. We double check the invoice made it to our client’s email and then we either move forward with payment via PayPal or have the client generate a check (this greatly depends on the type of client and their internal accounts payable procedures). For those clients who pay immediately, we generate a receipt for payment using Quickbooks online (after transferring the PayPal transaction into Quickbooks) and email that as well. For those clients who mail a check, we use our smart phone to deposit the check when it comes in and then generate at receipt via Quickbooks online after logging in the transaction. If you need an app, consider one of these suggestions from Intuit.
3. Using Outlook/Apple Mail or your email client for your to-do list. With all that is going on in life, it can be easy to forget something if you don’t store it away somewhere. Instead of making a to-do list (which, in all honesty, sometimes I misplace), I make use of the task list feature in Outlook/Apple Mail, which I have synced to my smart phone, laptop, and iPad. I no longer use pads of paper or often need a pen. If anything needs to be accomplished or scheduled, I pull out my phone, create a new task, assign a deadline and then that item can be removed from my memory until the task reminder pops up. I schedule anywhere from one to three hours a day ensuring I accomplish the tasks on my to do list…like this blog! Again, this is a method for going paperless AND increasing productivity. The best part about this strategy is that I have Outlook/Apple Mail already. No need to download a new app or buy new software. Almost every email client has a to-do list, and iPad and tablets have a program already installed called “reminders” or “calendar” that will sync to your email client.
Still not convinced? Let’s do some quick math. Add up what you spent on paper, pens, note pads, ink and printer repair/service contracts, and shipping last year. Enough said!
If you would like assistance implementing these and other going paperless ecostrategies in your nonprofit, business or organization -small or large – please contact EcoStrategist, Andrea Nocito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Mention you read this blog and you’ll receive a complimentary subscription to EcoWeeklys good for one month’s free strategies when signing a service contract to move from paper-centric to paper free! You won’t be disappointed in the cost savings!