With the tax filing deadline fresh in your memory, chances are good that you’ve vowed to be better organized for next year. But multiple document types and storage locations make it difficult to stay organized. Small businesses typically juggle a mix of paper documents and electronic files, stored in filing cabinets or saved on computers, respectively. If you feel like you’re drowning in business documents, these four tips can help you regain control.
- Use digital documents whenever possible: In general, electronic files are easier to access and store than paper documents. To find a paper document, for example, you have to dig through a file cabinet, but you can often locate a digital file in seconds by using search functions. And if your system allows remote access to your digital data, you can access information without being near a physical file cabinet.
- Outsource document scanning: To gain the advantages of electronic file storage, companies should scan all of their paper files, creating digital copies. With some businesses, this may not seem feasible. A lawyer’s office, for example, may lack the time needed to scan all its legal files. One option is to outsource the scanning to an archiving service; it won’t be free, but the time you save can be far more valuable.
- Archive documents you seldom use: Keeping documents around that you don’t need makes it harder to keep current files organized. A simple test is to ask yourself: What files have I worked on in the last six months? In the last year? In the last two years? If you haven’t used a document in two years, you probably don’t need to pull it up on your mobile device, so consider moving it to an archive.
- Back up your local archive to the cloud: For many small businesses, an inexpensive option for creating a local archive is network-attached storage (NAS). A NAS device works like a big empty filing cabinet, shared by everyone on your company network. It’s also easy and affordable to automatically back up your NAS archive online through an automatic data backup service.
The key takeaway is that electronic files are easier to access and store than paper documents, which makes staying organized less challenging for small businesses.
How do you stay organized? Has your business benefitted from any of the tips above? Share your experiences and thoughts!
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