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5 steps to going paperless, and why you should

September 28, 2013

For any organization, implementing paperless solutions can have a plethora of advantages. From improving workflow to reducing overhead costs, cutting paper and going digital can also enhance productivity and information management. These benefits are particularly important to town, city and county government offices, school boards and other public agencies that have to embrace transparency and open government, while maintaining a minimal budget.

Normal citizens and business owners can approach paperless solutions by taking simple steps, such as eliminating paper bills, invoices, magazines, printers and other sources of miscellaneous paper that aren't necessary for everyway activities. For a government office, the issue becomes compounded. Meeting documents, minutes, calendars, memos and all important record archiving requires extensive amounts of paper - but with the right solutions many local councils can begin eliminating paperwork from their operations altogether.

Before a government office starts cutting out paper entirely though, there are certain steps that must be taken to ensure successful integration with workflow.

Start recycling
It may seem simple, but shredding and recycling anything that doesn't require archiving for compliance reasons can be a major boost to toward paperless initiatives. Any town, county or city council that wants to go paperless should take this step immediately to start eliminating paper waste and take a proactive step toward green environmental efforts.

Scan everything
The next step towards eliminating paper use is to start securely scanning any and all documents that can be. Creating digital copies of documents can have many benefits, but the primary one is reducing the cost of records storage. With information stored digitally, councils can start getting rid of their archives save significantly on this expense.

Get rid of paper in the council room
Implementing paperless meetings is another key way to optimize these efforts and start seeing immediate ROI. County, town and city officials, as well as school boards, can work much more efficiently without bulky paper document packets at each and every meeting. This helps officials prepare for meetings, quickly search for information during them and gain easier access to minutes from previous sessions.

Kill the memo
Memos are becoming outdated in the business world, and local governments should follow suit. Migrating to email, secure instant messaging and other solutions that keep digital records of conversations and improve collaboration as a whole will be more efficient and cost effective immediate and in the long run.

Electronic everything
From signatures to e-voting, almost everything can be made digital today. Government offices should consider investing in these technologies to streamline the elimination of paper, reduce the time it takes to file and archive minutes, votes and paperwork to make these processes more efficient overall.

These steps will provide the bulk of paperless replacement, but school boards and town councils will need to take further steps to completely eliminate paperwork from their operations. Investing in IQM2's high-quality meeting management and related solutions for digital government will provide the foundation for these efforts and help optimize the migration from an antiquated paper-based office to a high-tech digital one.

In addition to improving internal operations, going paperless will help officials pass those benefits onto citizens as well. Reducing operational costs will allow for budgets for public works to be expanded while improving the flow of information from meetings to accessible open and transparent government portals.

Ultimately, going paperless has many advantages, and can help prepare town, city and county offices for improved technology and the next way of digital innovation coming to government and business IT.