Getting over the fear of going paperless

I have no paper on my desk. Zero, zilch, nada. I'm bragging because I feel free.

I want you to feel this freedom too.

Going paperless was surprisingly easy, because the company I work for functions this way.  We have no sticky notes or paper pads. There is no printer in our office. It's a 'cultural thing' (that, and we are a software company...).

Now I admit, there was a little fear for me, as my previous jobs all used a lot of paper - and I used it as a 'crutch', even though we used computers and software at our disposal.

As one source puts it: "the biggest fear we're hearing is that people are scared of going paperless because they're concerned they'll "lose everything," "lose information because of a computer crash," or they'll "lose important information and not be able to recreate it."(1)

And that's the key,  how do you overcome the fear of 'losing' some information that you know you are going to need in the future? How do you release yourself from the paper 'crutch'?

 I've outlined a few things to help you get to a 'paperless state' in your business:

  1. Decide why you want to go paperless. Understand your motivations. As much as I care about saving trees, I'd say even more compelling reasons include efficiency, saving time and avoiding the risk if mis-filing something important.
  2. Develop a positive attitude (2) towards the process of getting to the goal. Set a goal to go 90% paperless. Don't expect to go 100% paperless overnight. Many of our customers still print run cards (aka 'kennel cards').
  3. Assess your systems and processes. Why is this on paper? How often do we need this information? Where do we need it and when?
  4. Try to solve a couple big pain points first (where you have too much paper), so you can really celebrate a big win.

 

A paperless medication report in Gingr. The user can actively enter notes and update status of medication administration. Each day's report is automatically stored and can be retrieved readily.

Selecting Digital Solutions in order to go paperless

When you use a good digital system, you can search and retrieve information easily, avoid the risk of mis-filing information every time you retrieve it and re-file it, and can avoid the risk of losing all of your information (by storing it redundantly in multiple remote locations).

To go paperless, you are going to need the right digital solution(s). When I say right, I mean the right solutions for you and your business. You have to find the appropriate software and hardware tools to help you and your staff perform the tasks you need to do.

Here are a few features to consider:

1. Trust - the bottom line is that you have to trust your digital resources. In selecting software and hardware be diligent in learning about how things work, check reviews and look for referrals.

2. Ask any software provider how data is backed up and stored. You are looking for redundancy in database backups and good 'availability', or access, to your information. While servers break-down and need maintenance, your provider should guarantee a high level of availability. Ours guarantees 99.96% 'uptime'.

3. Ask about security, and look for documentation regarding security measures on their website.

4. Ask to see examples of paperless forms, reports and search/data retrieval.

 

Paperless service agreements and/or liability waivers are automatically stored in the software and can be quickly retrieved.

Going Paperless requires is a cultural change and requires Leadership

Most sources across a variety of industries and disciplines say 'it's about attitude'. Develop a positive attitude, show leadership and encourage your staff. Model new behaviors and 'best practices'. First and foremost, make a plan, and engage your staff in that plan and timeline.

One thing I suggest is having a relative abundance of (low cost) tablets, with the important 'pages' of Gingr bookmarked and open in the browser. Keep the tablets 'awake' (disable sleep mode), and conveniently open to the Facility Calendar, where you can see today's services that need to be completed (and by whom, if assigned to a specialist). This is especially helpful for groomers!

"We use (Amazon) tablets and a cheap one from Walmart w/child protective cases! This way I won't cry if/when one breaks! - Gingr user.
 "I want to add one more important fact...You would not believe how much we have saved in paper & printer ink!!!! -  same Gingr user.

 

Here are some resources to check out:

(1) Paperitis

(2) http://www.hrzone.com/lead/change/the-paperless-office-to-fear-or-not-to-fear

 

I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on this! - Andy

 

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