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Digitize Your Docs

by Frank Tresnak | Dec 27, 2016
Originally published in the American Payroll Association's PayTech magazine.

We still use many documents that play important parts in our work and personal lives. Letters, calendars, agreements, reports, and messages are part of that everyday activity.  This article examines six ways we can move from paper versions and fully into the digital world.

Word Processing and Spreadsheets 
Are you still using a PC-based software package?  Moving to an internet based office suite like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs gives you access to your applications over a variety of devices beyond your desktop, including your home computer, tablet and smartphone.  Because you are using a cloud-based platform, all you need to do is open an account and login from your device.

Storage and Access
Having your documents saved on your work computer or internal network reduces productivity.  It means they are not accessible if you travel, work from home, or have a need to get your information outside the workplace, especially if your internal network is not available remotely or your laptop is not with you. Consider using a cloud-based storage application as your repository.  Services like Box, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive offer a block of free secured storage, accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.  Most allow for sharing and collaboration with others, using the stored document on the cloud service, rather than emailing documents as attachments back and forth, always unsure which version has what changes. 

Doing business 

Many orders, purchase requests, licenses, loans and  contracts are still done using paper documents.  Time is often spent scanning and printing the latest version as you negotiate your terms.  Services like Docusign, Digisign, Right Signature and more allow you to build in the appropriate approval signatures and pass the document between parties for completion and final signature.  All services have an administrative function to manage open activities and completed transactions.  These electronic documents are legally binding, secure and faster to process.

Scanning  
Sometimes you just need to scan and send an item electronically.  With GeniusScan you have a scanner in your pocket via your smartphone.  It allows you to scan pages and export your documents as needed.  It speeds communication letting you scan and email a document from the same device. 

Task Management with Collaboration 

We all work with teams of colleagues.  How do you manage the messages, documents, schedules and tasks the team has undertaken?  There are several collaboration tools that help digitize the paper processes that normally exist in working together:
Slack is a messaging application for teams, letting you share files, images, documents and spreadsheets with anyone you want.  You can store them in a cloud based storage solution and sync with your devices, get notifications and maintain an archive. Use any of your devices to communicate.  

-Ryver is a team communications platform for your department, project, interest group, or other teams of people working on a similar project.  You can share messaging, files and reminders as you collaborate.  Ryver currently is free to use and operates across all your devices.
-Wunderlist – Wunderlist helps you plan and share your to-dos, work lists, household lists and more.  Get reminders and assign to-dos to your colleagues and friends.  You can access Wunderlist on all your devices.
-Azendoo – Collaborate with your teams in one place, integrating with the tools and services you use, across all your devices.  Manage your tasks, activities, documents, messages, calendars and more.  Azendoo helps your teams to be more productive, with faster updates and communications.

IT policies

Be sure to work with your IT department on the way items are stored and accessed before you pick and deploy one of these methods.  If you have no policy about using online tools and storing data in cloud services, develop one!  IT will want to ensure your information is secure and company data is safe.

All of the capabilities mentioned help to remove the paper from your processes, allowing you to work where and when you want to, and improve the efficiency of your communications with colleagues and teams.  Many of the tools offer free versions or trial versions so you can build your processes.  It’s time to digitize your documents!