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Going paperless can make you more money

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The environment and saving costs when moving a business to a paperless office are the two most popular benefits, writes Jeremy Waterman, MD of Sage Northern Africa & Middle East.
While these two are important, there are many hidden positives that tossing paper can do to help small businesses to reinvent and simplify their endeavour – leading to increased profitability.
Despite these benefits, businesses seem hesitant to digitise the contents of their filing cabinets and change the way they do business.
So if a business is still sitting on the fence, here are nine benefits that a paperless office can provide:
* Reduce costs and save space – It isn’t simply cutting the spend on paper that is a benefit, but also saving on the purchasing cost of filing cabinets, paper and folders, the cost of the office space to store the filing cabinets and paying staff to maintain the often cumbersome system. This also includes no longer needing to purchase as many copiers, fax machines, printers and time wasted looking for paperwork that has been misfiled.
* Accurate financial data – The frustration of manually looking through debtor files, ledgers and credit notes can now be replaced with a less time consuming cloud-based accounting solution. This will give the staff in the finance department and the business decision-makers an accurate view on the various aspects of the businesses accounts in realtime.
* Document security – The costs of storing documentation are incredibly high. Additional concerns regarding large volumes of documentation is also the physical security of the information compromised by potential threats such as theft, fire, water damage and vandalism. A digitised version of the data on the cloud improves security and reduces the cost of storing and insuring the documentation.
* Quick and efficient business processes – A digital workflow allows several users to work on the same data simultaneously and also allows users from various departments’ access to the information as and when it is needed. Duplication of data is avoided and data integrity is also improved.
* Facilitates company growth – The efficiency created by a digitised process is that departments will be able to manage an increase in the volume of tasks created by company growth. As an example, the HR and payroll department will be able to manage a spike of additional colleagues and doing so digitally and not manually.
* Workforce mobility – Colleagues that do not need to be office-bound, such as a business sales force, can spend more time in the field securing new business and contributing to revenue growth.
* Automatic audit trail – Especially with regards to a business’s financials, but also applicable to other departments such as sales pipelines, an electronic audit trail is created as and when each document, programme and application is being edited, updated or altered. This will create an opportunity for a business to track processes and identify inefficiencies or inaccuracies as they arise.
* Business development – In the UK, a small business survey showed that 31% of respondents would spend more time on business development if they weren’t looking for that ever-elusive document.
* ROI – The cost of software applications and cloud storage are incredibly competitive and come with an additional ability for businesses to reduce the spend on its IT department. It is estimated that a business will start realising the return on investment in six months or less.
By replacing the reliance on paper with the smartest technology, business decision-makers can reinvent and simplify their processes. We connect our customers to accountants and partners with real-time and intuitive information about their business. This contributes towards additional revenue and profitability for a business.