Did you know that the term “paperless office” was first used in 1978 by an office equipment company? However, it wasn’t until recently that businesses all over the globe realized that minimizing the amount of paper is not only very user-friendly but also very important for the environment.
Office digitization has become incredibly popular in the last decade or so, so it’s no wonder that all company departments are finding ways and tools that would keep their department completely organized. One of the departments that had the most challenges in this task is finance and accounting – primarily because of the nature of their business and the fact that their whole department is paper-based.
However, this trend is being implemented in financial departments as well. Not only are businesses realizing they can turn to many different cloud solutions that would streamline their job; but they are also looking for remote teams to handle these tasks.
How did it all start?
Although this term was first used in 1978, everything started with the invention of the first word processor a couple of years prior. This allowed typists to edit texts without needing to re-do the entire page, as was the case with typewriters.. The electronic spreadsheet followed soon after together with the first IBM PC, setting the ground for the computer era we’re living in today.
A big push toward digitisation came with integrated office systems that introduced digital files and emails. This significantly lessened the need for paper since drafts and final versions of documents didn’t need to be individually printed. When combined with client-server networks, this was the biggest leap in the development of paperless offices.
Finally, in the 2010s, cloud platforms took over business operations, nearly rendering paper useless. In terms of accounting, the increased safety of digital documents meant that this was an option most companies favoured over the traditional way of doing business. With the emergence of electronic signatures, accountants seemingly had no need to have even as much as a post-it at their desk.
Paperless vs Traditional accounting
Let’s admit it – no one can go 100% paperless. Similarly, no one can go completely software-less, either. Today, most businesses combine the two approaches, with some leaning to one side more than the other.
In most cases, the main difference is the type of storage. Financial matters must be diligently recorded, and those records must be safely kept. Traditional offices still prefer folders and cabinets, kept under lock and key and manually accessed when necessary. Digital offices aren’t that much different – the folders are still there; they’re just on the cloud. Locks are replaced by passwords, and access is shared via email.
Advantages of Online Accounting
Cost and time efficiency
Firstly, we must mention the significant effect that paperless offices have on the company’s finances, time, and space. The digital storage of all documents can be done either on an on-premises server or via cloud software. This is an excellent way to reduce spending on paper, printers, ink, and postage. Of course, these will still be necessary for any office, but the savings won’t go unnoticed, especially after some time.
The paperless practice also helps save time from hours of trying to make all files and folders neat. This is especially helpful in an industry such as accounting, where retention periods are rather long for each document.
On top of saving time and money, digitising files will help you save valuable space as well. Bulky cabinets take up too much room in offices and make the environment less welcoming. On the other hand, cloud or other types of digital storage take up zero space and are endlessly expandable.
Possibility of saving costs
One important benefit of online accounting is that you don’t need an in-house team that will tackle your finances. If you decide to take all of your accounting online, you might want to go the extra mile and think about outsourcing your accounting team. Finding bookkeeping and accounting professionals in a country nearby can significantly reduce your costs and you will also get the chance to hire them for a limited amount per week – depending on your business needs.
Easy transfer of information
Another noteworthy advantage of digitisation over traditional accounting is the easy transfer of information. Typically, several financial experts are assigned to each client, and it is of the utmost importance that everyone on the account stays informed about all updates. Viewing the changes in real-time instead of having to wait for each bit of information to reach somebody will greatly reduce the chance of human errors.
Furthermore, this way of doing business promotes collaboration and allows for a way to perform data analysis. That task would typically take days (or even longer!) and possibly end with inaccurate data due to manual analysis. However, allowing a computer to do this work for you only takes up a small portion of your day, and there’s no need to worry about result precision.
Data security is the top priority when working in an industry such as finance. Physical documents are hard to keep track of, which means they can easily get lost or even tampered with.
Most storage software solutions have an option to prevent unauthorised access to information such as passwords. This proves particularly important to businesses that handle sensitive and confidential information, such as financial records and detailed personal information on their clients.
With document management software, you also can redact confidential pieces of information, create audit trails, and leverage electronic signatures.
An average tree takes around 100 years to grow but can only produce 17 reams of paper.
Other negative influences that paper production has on the environment include the emission of greenhouse gasses, leading to deforestation and speeding up global warming. Ink and toner cartridges eventually make their way to landfills, where their plastics will stay for a long time. Although recycling can indeed help lessen this effect, it is, unfortunately, still not enough.
A company can improve its sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint by lowering paper usage. Rather than using ink containing toxic chemicals for each file, you can print out only the necessary ones and help offset the pollution levels.
How can you get in on the paperless trend?
Since the 1970s, we’ve slowly been working towards paperless offices. Although still following the basic concepts of traditional accounting, going online has plenty of benefits over it.
Besides reducing costs and time and space waste, digitising also allows for a more effortless transfer of information and heightened security levels and is ultimately good for the environment.
One of the best ways to reap the benefits of a paperless office is to hire an online accounting firm. At FinSuperstars, we provide companies with expert teams to handle all your bookkeeping and accounting needs. Since we conduct our services remotely, you can rest assured that we bring about all the positives of a paperless office.
Do you want to partner up with a paperless company and join the trend? Give us a call, and let’s get started!