The paperless office may never happen, but it's worth at least making the effort to cut back. Paper eats revenue; using it means taking a longer time to move information, and, in many cases, people cannot literally all be on the same page at the same time.
For John Evans of United Cleaning and Restoration, Middlefield, Conn., a damage restoration company, the bottom line is to “make sure we're professional, efficient, and provide the customer with what they ask for as quickly as possible.” He can't do that without computers. Evans uses the Job Processing Program (JPP) by Assured Software ( www.assured-software.com) with an Internet shareware component to prepare information for insurance companies or an adjuster. Then, “If they want to print it, they can,” he says.
Although the situation for Evans' is slightly different from a traditional remodeler — who would never say to a client, “Just print it yourself” — the sentiment about efficiency is the same.
Jeff Rainey, a founding member of the Remodeling Industry Technology Group ( www.ritg.org) in northern Virginia, couldn't handle the number of jobs his company does without using computers and shared files. With paper “there are more people in the office who have to take care of its flow,” he says. So not only is “pushing a button faster, it saves you money because you have fewer employees” managing paper.
Rainey says his current paper files, held off site, are half the size they were 15 years ago, yet his company, Home Equity Builders, is doing three and a half times the business. He worries too much about backups and viruses to imagine a truly paperless office. “In a perfect world, if we didn't have those problems, it would be easier to embrace,” he says.
To reduce the use of paper, not just by using double-sided printed matter, but also by saving data electronically using computers, scanners, and technology storage systems, is a healthy goal to help preserve information, de-clutter space, better organize the office, and increase efficiency (plus save some trees).
It's relatively easy to keep all your records on paper when revenue is $350,000, but bump up to half a million or to the $1 million mark and you'll need to rely more on technology.