How to Go Paperless in the Office: A Guide for Finance and Accounting Teams
-This article was last updated on 14 February 2023-
As more and more businesses make the transition to digital work practices, paperwork is being phased out in an effort to become more environmentally friendly. Reducing paper consumption is an effective way for businesses to have 'a huge impact on the environment, and especially CO2 emissions'.
While all areas of an organisation deal with paperwork, the finance and accounting departments are those who can benefit the most from this transformation. Keep reading to learn how you can make the switch in your office.
Table of Contents
- What Does Going Paperless in the Office Mean?
- The Benefits of Going Paperless
- Paperless Accounting Best Practices
- Make the Switch to ExpenseIn Today
What Does Going Paperless in the Office Mean?
After all, we’ve already learned that paper receipts are a thing of the past. Plus, no one wants to spend their workday digging through countless invoices and other important documents—especially when the company’s financial health depends on it.
Digital documents are more convenient to store, organise, retrieve, and process than paper records. As a result, your employees will be able to spend more time working and less time shuffling through huge amounts of paper.
Therefore, creating a paperless finance department isn’t just effective, but totally necessary in our digital era.
The Benefits of Going Paperless
There are a number of benefits to going paperless in your office, especially for finance and accounting departments:
You’ll be able to reduce or eliminate costly errors in your data entry process.
You can view all your financial information in one place.
You can make informed decisions faster.
Less time is spent on mindless tasks like organising files or sorting through paper documents.
There’s no longer a need to manage physical storage space.
Employees have easier access to their own work progress throughout the day (and not just during office hours).
Everyone has better visibility into what everyone else is working on.
Here are some of the other reasons why you should consider making this change:
Switching to paperless accounting methods saves you money on copier toner and printer ink, filing cabinets and space, printing costs, and postage fees from sending invoices or bills via the post.
Decreased Risk of Fraud
When all information is stored in one place digitally—and backed up regularly—it’s much less likely that someone can access sensitive data without authorisation, thus decreasing the risk of fraud.
Instead of waiting for files to be shipped back-and-forth between offices or storing them in multiple locations across your business, everything is accessible instantly with just one login account—no matter where you are physically located.
Less Clutter and More Space
Not only does having less physical clutter make your office look more professional and organised, but it also frees up valuable space that could be used for other purposes.
With all information stored electronically, it’s easier to protect against data breaches and hacking attempts, since no one can physically access the files.
Paperless Accounting Best Practices
Thinking about switching to a paperless finance department? Here are our top tips for a smooth transition:
Ensure everyone is on-board
Organise your paper documents and files
Find the right digital document management system
Commit to a paperless office
1. Ensure Everyone is On-Board
Going paperless in finance and accounting departments can be overwhelming, due to the sheer volume of documents that need digitising. To ensure a smooth process, however, it’s vital that every team member is on board with reducing their paper usage. Start by explaining how going paperless will simplify everyone’s tasks. Workers will be more inclined to embrace a paperless office if they can see how much time, energy, and effort they’ll save.
Additionally, be sure to also address any compliance concerns about going paperless. Demonstrate how going paperless not only avoids compliance problems, but also creates an audit trail where finance data can easily be traced back to their source in real time.
Finally, explain how customers now prefer electronic correspondence over paper correspondence. Not only is it easier to manage, but it’s also more secure.
2. Organise your Paper Documents and Files
Making the transition to a paperless finance office starts with the organisation of your existing documents and files. To prepare these for cloud-based storage, you’ll need to digitise them by scanning every relevant sheet of paper.
While this might be the most time-consuming aspect of going paperless in finance and accounting, it’s certainly worth it. To tackle your mounds of paper documents, divide the required work and enlist the help of every finance and accounting team member.
To organise your paper documents and files, you should:
Establish a consistent organisation structure (i.e. by client name, year, etc.) and guarantee that everyone adheres to it.
Split the workload among team members and ensure each employee takes responsibility for their own files.
Determine an expiration date for paper records in line with legal requirements, and shred them if they are older than this date.
Set a deadline for when each employees’ files should be sorted and ready to be uploaded into the document management software.
Follow up with each team member on a regular basis to ensure they’re on track to reach their objectives.
3. Find the Right Digital Document Management System
A centralised document management system (DMS) or a cloud-based storage system must be implemented to access and store digital information.
There are several digital document management solutions to select from. Be sure to do your homework and evaluate your options before making a decision. To assist you in your search, develop a list of the tools your finance team needs. This might include data backup, storage capacity, the number of user accounts, audit logs, employee permissions, and automation.
ExpenseIn, for example, is a cloud-based expense management software that offers paperless expense management. It reduces the need for paper-based processes, improves efficiency, and enables finance staff to get back to more important jobs. It does so through various features, including automatic receipt scanning and paperless invoice processing.
ExpenseIn is also compatible with the most popular accounting packages, including Xero, Sage, NetSuite and QuickBooks. This means finance teams can export expense-related data to their accounting software with the click of a button—no paper documentation necessary.
4. Commit to a Paperless Office
Creating a paperless Accounting office is a continuous process that should be adjusted and improved over time.
Once you’ve digitally transformed your financial and accounting procedures, transitioning to a completely paperless office is the next logical step.
Thankfully, there are some small tasks you can implement to complete your switch:
Use digital note-taking apps in meetings, which can then be shared with additional users.
Use cloud-sharing and instant messaging services to reduce the need for printed memos for employees.
Adopt task and project management tools to reduce the use of post-it notes, to-do lists, and physical roadmaps.
Embrace e-signatures and digitised agreements for staff and clients.
Send emails, where possible, instead of letters.
Make work more mobile with laptops and tablets.
Make the Switch to ExpenseIn Today
Going digital is one way to streamline your business, save money, and increase efficiency. However, when it comes to accounting departments and financial teams, it's not always as simple as just changing how you do things.
Going paperless means eliminating the paper trail of invoices and receipts that can be messy and inconvenient. It also means finding an accounting solution that works well with your existing systems, so you don't have to make major changes in order to get started.
It's important to remember that even if you're starting from scratch, it will take time to transition into a completely paperless accounting office. You don’t need to convert all of your data overnight; start by digitising the items that are most important to your business (like invoices and receipts) and then move on from there. It’s a gradual process, but one that will make a big difference in how efficiently your business operates.
The good news is that there are plenty of tools out there to help make this process easier, such as ExpenseIn.