Going paperless is a process that has each business trying to find a sweet spot between convenience and security. One of the main benefits to going paperless is the ability to utilize cloud storage to access your files from anywhere, yet it’s a catch 22 due to security concerns over digitally stored files ending up in the wrong hands. While your files are never going to be 100-percent secure, the same concern exists in an offline file storage environment. Fires, theft, flooding, etc. are all huge concerns for the offline file storage system, just like hackers with malicious intent are for digital storage. The key (as mentioned above) is finding the sweet spot between convenience and security.
Using SSL (secure socket layer) connections, strong passwords and known (read: trusted) cloud service providers is often more than enough security for the common business. There are a million and one articles floating around the internet about securing your digital files, so I won’t focus too much on that here, instead, let’s focus on 7 easy ways to go paperless, without giving up much in the way of security.
Find a Service Provider
There are a number of secure storage providers, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and even the ever-popular Evernote. Each of these has their pros and cons, but chances are that one of them would work well for your business. When researching service providers, remember, there are far more than the sites listed here, but do your homework beforehand so that you aren’t left high and dry when a new and un-tested company offers a too-good-to-be-true package that finds your files easily accessed by prying eyes. Or, just as common, disappearing one day never to be seen again.
Get a Receipt Scanner
Receipt scanners can be found as cheaply as $50 online, but for a more robust scanner with good security features and excellent duplication abilities, plan to spend around $150-$300. These scanners are as easy as entering a receipt in one end, and waiting until it scans and sends the (now disposable) paper receipt out the other. Most of the better scanners can even sync to the aforementioned Google Drive, Evernote or Dropbox without any input on your part.
Get Documents Signed Electronically
For documents needing an electronic signature, there are now enterprise-level solutions starting at under $3 per user for large businesses, or $15 per month for single user plans. The service allows you to upload documents to the cloud, point out where the user needs to take action (signature, initials, date, etc.) and then sends them a notification. They can sign the document from their computer or mobile device without ever having to print it. Once they’re done, you’re notified, and you can view the newly signed document. Going paperless is all but pointless if you still have to use paper for everything, right?
Create Strong Passwords
The number one way that hackers get access to your information is through the use of insecure passwords. Forego dictionary words and names in your passwords and instead, opt for keyboard symbols ($*(#_@*!) along with random strings of letters (both capitalized and not) and numbers. If you need help, consult a password generator online.
Be Meticulous About Tagging and Organization
Storing files wirelessly gives you more organization options than you ever had when storing physical documents. Be sure to take advantage of these features by utilizing tags, folders and even colors or symbols to help keep your documents well organized, and easily found. When properly tagged, the search feature on your cloud storage provider becomes even easier to use to find any document you choose.
Remember, you don’t have to give up security in order to go completely paperless in your office but much like physical storage, you have to be mindful of risk, and find that sweet spot between risk and reward that you’re comfortable with.