How to Go Paperless in the Office: A Guide for Finance and Accounting Teams 

By Linda RoperFebruary 14, 2022
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As more and more businesses make the transition to digital work practices, paperwork is being phased out in an effort to become more environmental friendly. While all areas of an organisation deal with paperwork, the finance and accounting departments are those who can benefit the most from this transformation.

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, going paperless in finance and accounting isn’t just effective, but totally necessary in our digital era. Here’s how you can make the switch in your office.

Ensure Everyone is On-Board

The image shows a man at his desk, looking shocked at the massive pile of paperwork in front of him.

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.

Organise your Paper Documents and Files

Making the transition to a paperless 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.

The process should look like this:

  • 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’s 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.

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, 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.

Commit to a Paperless Office

Use cloud software and go paperless in the office.

Creating a paperless 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.