As I walk into offices throughout our client base, I am amazed at the number of file cabinets and volume of paper businesses still maintain in their archives. I wonder whether there really is a need for them or whether there is just an insecure feeling that without the paper, they can’t run the business. Now I am not saying that historical documentation is not necessary. It is often very important to ensure the business can operate. I must admit that I am far from perfect. In fact, if I were to check my basement catacombs, I am probably in possession of paper credit cards receipt from more than 15 years.
As we are in the age of technology, it is rare today to see a professional copier machine that cannot double as a scanner. And with disk space becoming basically unlimited, there is no question to me that we could trade in most of the papers we are saving in the old metal file cabinets within a business and place them into the digital world. I know the next comment will be, but how can I find this document when I need it. Today, I can go to the file cabinets where I have paperwork grouped by customer or by document number and I can easily find anything I am looking for. But that is only one way to find the documents. How would you handle a situation where you need the document by salesperson or by a grouping of customers? What a big undertaking that would be.
But again, we are in the digital world. In this world, there is software that can help us organize these documents into easily findable and searchable documents. This software is capable of reaching into the documents and pulling key information from them. This process, called scraping, allows the user to determine what they feel is key information and then stores those keys into databases with links to the actual document. This is done thru a scanning process where the documents are fed into a scanner in bulk and the software knows where to find the important data on the form. This could be data like the customer id, the customer name, the date and the salesperson. All these fields could be searchable on a single search.
For example, we can all agree that if you deliver your goods to a customer, it is important to have a signed receipt as proof of delivery. This way, when the customer calls and claims they never received your delivery, you can send them a copy of the signed delivery receipt for their records. In this example, I know you could walk over to the old metal file cabinet and search through the documents and eventually pull out the document and fax it to the customer. But with the digital solution, you could launch a piece of software and enter the customer and the invoice date and the document will automatically appear on the screen. At this point, it could be emailed directly to the customer without ever leaving your seat. In another example, maybe your salesperson wants a copy of all the invoices for his customers for a period of time, think of how much time it would take to go thru all the file cabinets to find the data. With the software, you could enter the salesperson id and the date range and it would be able to find all their documents.
And, there is a large human savings in digitalizing the documents versus the time to organize the documents and place them into the file folders in the cabinets. Additionally, the space savings on keeping those cabinets in your office is tremendous as the documents can be properly disposed of after they are scanned. And finally, the efficiency and time saving when trying to find the documents when they are needed by employees or customers is amazing. There are other benefits as well. These documents could be added to your website to give added service to your customers. They will have the ability to find the paperwork on your website when it’s convenient for them rather than having to call you and request them.
This is just the beginning. This technology can be taken to the next level where your drivers can carry around a tablet or iPad with all their orders and the route manifest on it. When they start for the morning on their delivery schedule, they grab their tablet where they can look at the route that has been designed for them. As they make each stop, they can view each order on the tablet so they know what needs to be dropped off. Once unloaded, they can give the customer the tablet where they can review their delivery and sign for it right on the tablet. Once the signature is captured, it can be applied to the delivery documents and the documents can be emailed so they are waiting for them in their inbox. When the tablet is returned to the office, the digitally signed documents are synced back to your servers and stored for future reference. In this example, no scanning or paper copies are ever handled.
This concept may sound futuristic but rest assured, the future is now. The world of a paperless office is here and yours for the taking. Don’t be afraid to embrace new technology. Get started by scheduling a free consultation with MIBAR.