Hard copy vs digital file – which one is best and when?

Paper vs digital - blog post by Scan Film or StorePaper versus digital. To be honest, we’re fans of all sorts of documents so it’s really very hard to pick a favourite. You may as well be asking us to choose a favourite child. How can you compare the tactile experience of holding the printed page with the ease and convenience of a screen based reading experience?

Actually, you probably can – if you contextualise the choice. Here’s a bit of an exploration of when hard copy files trump digital ones and vice versa.

Space saving ability

This one is kind of a no brainer. If you have lots of space and you don’t mind what you fill it with, by all means collect that paper documentation. But if, on the other hand, space is at a premium – and let’s face it, we live on a fairly size challenged island where land isn’t exactly budget-friendly – then you probably can’t afford to have more paper hanging around than is absolutely necessary. When it comes to space saving, digital files are a winner every time.

Access on the move

Remember when you could buy the internet and keep it on a shelf? Yes, the good old Encyclopedia Britannica was the ultimate in looking stuff up in the mid-90s. But not quite so convenient for travelling about. If you work from multiple locations or spend a lot of time on trains, for example, then you probably don’t want to lug endless reams of paper around with you. It’s not good for your back for a start. In this case we’d opt for digital files and whatever device you prefer to access them on.

Legal requirements

There are times when we have choices and times when we don’t. One of the times we don’t is when we have to go by what the law says. And sometimes the law says stuff about the kinds of documents we need. For example, businesses are legally obliged to keep COSHH records for 40 years. Which means that, while you may decide you want to scan these for day-to-day use, you’ll also need to store the originals – either in-house or off site – in case the HSE asks to see them.

Ease on the eyes

You know how your eyes start to get kind of weird and sticky and a bit sore when you’ve been staring at a screen for too long? That doesn’t seem to happen when you’re reading off actual physical paper. At least not as quickly. Although there’s no proper science-backed reason why reading should be nicer or easier or more comfortable IRL (that’s In Real Life kids, keep up) it just is. OK? At least that’s our experience. So for extended reading we’re choosing paper.

Freedom from wifi

The thing about technology is that it’s great until it doesn’t work. Like the moment your internet goes down or you travel to some remote corner of the country where 3G is worshipped like a deity and 4G is just a legend. That’s when you wish you had a good old fashioned piece of paper in your hand that you could read. If internet access is likely to be an issue then we’d go with paper as our favourite.

So you see? It may not be a simple case of one being better than the other but there are definitely factors that will help you decide whether hard copy or digital files are better for your needs.

Whatever the case, if we can be of assistance – whether that be by storing your documents so they don’t clutter up your offices or scanning them and helping you create a digital archive – do let us know.

New services we’re launching just for April Fool’s Day

April Fools Day services from Scan Film or StoreSo the clocks have changed, we’re almost at the end of a tax year and a new month is just kicking off. Perfect time to announce a range of new services* we’re launching to take Scan Film or Store into the future in style.

Digital to biological uploads

You already know that we offer document scanning services to help transform your paper archives in digital ones. But that doesn’t really help you get the information on those files into your head, does it? Which is why we’re now going one step further. Not only will we scan your documents but we will upload the resulting JPG, PDF or TIF files directly into your brain via the latest biological upload technology so you have all the information available without having to read it.

Memory destruction services

We don’t like to brag but we’re pretty good at destroying data. We do next level document destruction (cross shredding and pulping so there’s no going back), we degauss hard drives, we incinerate microfiche and microfilm, and we shred CDs and DVDs. Now we’re adding another service to the list – memory destruction. Whether it’s a song you can’t get out of your head, an embarrassing incident at the office Christmas do or that time you walked in on your mother-in-law on the loo, we’ll extract the data from your mind and erase it entirely so no one, not even you, can access it again.

Child storage facilities

Parents, this one is for you. For those moments where you feel like you’re one step away from breaking point. When you just can’t handle one more demand for CBeebies or Peppa Pig, one more felt tip mark on the dining room table, one more temper tantrum over the sandwiches being cut into the wrong shapes. Introducing our new child storage facilities. Our purpose built warehouse is alarmed and monitored 24-7 and climate controlled to ensure your children aren’t damaged. We can even barcode them so they’re easy to find when (if?) you decide you want them back.

Holographic archives

The move from paper to paperless is going well. Now we’re pushing the boundaries of screenless technology. Rather than accessing your digital files via a monitor, we can create holographic files that you’ll be able to project onto walls or even into thin air. Ideal for presentations, team meetings, very small offices and sci-fi nerds.

Translation scanning services

Scanners have become so intelligent in recent years. We’ve just bought the Babel Scan-Tran E260 which has built in translation software that will auto-translate your documents as they scan. The software will arrange the resulting files in a digital archive that includes both the original language and any translated versions, cross indexed with multi-lingual OCR technology so you can always find what you’re looking for, even if you don’t speak the language.

If you’re interested in any of these services – or our slightly more boring but equally useful old ones, including document storage, document scanning, secure data destruction etc – then get in touch with the team today.

*PS In case the title hadn’t given it away, this post has been an elaborate and cleverly constructed April Fool’s Day ruse. We wouldn’t really suggest you stick your kids in a warehouse, now would we? Duh.

Common data breaches and how to prevent them

Scan Film or Store data breach blog postThe world has more information in it than ever before. A lot of it is fairly mundane – train timetables and Pink Floyd lyrics and what Sarah had for lunch on Thursday (thanks so much, Instagram). But there is also a lot of highly sensitive information, ranging from individuals’ address details through to launch codes that could destroy the planet.

Getting hold of this information is something the criminal element apply an awful lot of time and energy to. So we thought we’d look at some common ways you might be targeted – and the relatively simple steps to reduce the risk of being subject to a data breach.

Getting hacked because you haven’t put the necessary cyber protection in place

Antivirus? Check. Secure passwords with numbers and symbols and capital letters? Check. Memo to staff to not click on dodgy links that promise lottery wins and unlikely tax rebates? Check. Um…. next?

Protecting your organisation against a cyber attack is a complex process. We know, because we recently got certification under the Cyber Essentials Scheme and it was a heck of a lot of work proving that we really are as secure as we can be. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean we can help you prevent an internal breach but at least you know that if you entrust us with your data, it will be as safe as it is possible to be.

Leaving a bag of top secret government papers on the train

Yes, we know what you’re going to say – no one would be that stupid! But it’s happened in real life as well as fiction. Many data breaches happen as a result of human error so training is essential, as is putting processes in place that reduce the likelihood of documents falling into the wrong hands. In our case, we’re certified to BS10008:2014 standards, which are the same ones used by police when transporting evidence in a case so they can say for certain that it hasn’t been tampered with.

Having customer information nabbed out of the bins behind the office

Chucking confidential documents in the bin is not a good idea. And shredding them first isn’t good enough to prevent a security breach either. Anyone with decent eyesight and enough patience can piece those strips back together and retrieve the information they need. No, what you want is genuinely secure data destruction. We cross shred all confidential waste into confetti and then, for good measure, pulp it so there’s no chance of anyone reading it again.

Finding out your office cleaner is an international spy

No matter how good your internal checks and measures, if you’re giving any external suppliers access to your data then there’s a potential security issue. A data breach might be deliberate or accidental but the outcome is the same. Which means it’s vital that you know you can trust everyone from the office cleaner to the folks who scan your documents to help you create digital files.

Because of the nature of some of our contracts, we deal with information that is literally of national importance. Which means that not only are all our employees DBS and BS 7858 checked but we’ve also all signed the Official Secrets Act.

Getting held up as you transport documents ready for shredding

If you’ve invested a lot of time, energy and budget in creating a secure environment at your HQ then you’ll naturally be wary of creating the opportunity for a data breach by allowing classified documents off site. What if someone intercepts them? Of course, you might need them scanned or destroyed. In which case the answer is simple: get it done on site.

We’ve mobilised our operations so that if you have a high volume of scanning or destruction we can come to you. We can scan documents up to pretty much any size, cross-shred and pulp paper documents and even chip PC hard drives down to 20mm or 6mm. And you can watch the whole process, if you like that kind of thing.

If you have a concern about your data and you’d like to talk to one of our experts, get in touch today.

Document Scanning, Storage And Destruction: Expectations vs. Reality

Scan Film or Store - Expectations vs Reality blog postIf you’ve never used a document scanning, storage or destruction service then there’s a good chance you’ve got a few misconceptions about the whole process. We’re not saying you’re generally uninformed or anything, honest. But why would you know the ins and outs of what is, we’ll admit, a less than thrilling industry to anyone who isn’t in it, right?

So anyway, we thought we’d run through a few common misconceptions and then provide a little explanation of the realities so you’re better prepared. If it’s good enough for the Boy Scouts and all that…

Document scanning, storage and destruction is only for big corporates

This is a common misconception and one we’re really keen to break. Because yes, we work with some really large clients – clients we can’t really tell you about because we’ve all signed the Official Secrets Act. But we also work with family firms and charities and even individuals (remember the lady with the Tibetan manuscripts?) and we offer them the same high level of service that we do for the big guns.

Once you get my documents, I’ll never see them again

If you’ve never visited our Bridgwater HQ (and you’re welcome to, by the way) then you might imagine it as some secret underground bunker or even a slightly more professional looking Bat Cave where documents go, never to be seen again. But actually any documents you stored with us would be easily accessible. We barcode everything, you see, so it’s easy to find. And we can either scan documents and send you electronic versions if you need them, or get the originals over to you by our own vehicles or courier.

If I want to see one of my stored documents, I’ll have to wait ages

Ah there, you see, we’ve already covered this in the point above. In case you skipped that one, here it is again: we can either scan a document and whiz over via email or we can deliver it back to you or call in a courier. So really, you can have whatever you need within a few short hours, wherever you are in the country.

Data destruction is just about shredding things quickly and in bulk

A big fat nope on that expectation. Data destruction is an important business with serious security implications so even a super fast giant shredder isn’t good enough. We use a cross shredder that creates confetti rather than strips (which, as you’ll know if you watch enough CSI, can be painstakingly put back together if you’re really committed) and then pulp that confetti so it’s literally impossible to read. We can also chip PC hard drives, degauss computer tapes and incinerate microfiche and microfilm, which have a high burning point and can’t be dealt with in your average garden waste burner.

I’m going to have to make a system to store my scanned files

Well if you’ve got a large amount of files that need to be scanned then yes, a system will need to be made – but let us handle it. If we do say so ourselves, we’re pretty good at it. We can literally sort the whole scanning process, from picking up your documents to preparing them for scanning (taking out staples, separating individuals documents with separator sheets etc) then scanning and creating a digital filing system. We can even train up your team to use the new  filing system. Handy, right?

Once my files are scanned I’ll be able to throw them away

Well you can if you don’t need them. But if there’s anything confidential in them – and we don’t just mean the Colonel’s secret recipe; even simple things like customer details need to be handled carefully, especially with GDPR now in force – then you’ll probably want us to securely destroy any originals you no longer need. Alternatively we can store them at our secure storage facilities or return them to your premises.

You won’t be able to scan my documents – they’re huge

Ooh, we do love a challenge. Especially as we have a very snazzy Canon OCE large format scanner, which can scan up to A0 in width and pretty much any length. Got a stack of 40ft aircraft drawings you need as digital files? No problem, we’ve done it before. Want to scan your pet giraffe’s neck X-ray so you can share it on your blog? We can help and we promise not to mock (too much).

Document scanning is bad for delicate old books

Well yes, that’s true – if you try and stick them in the scanner you’ve got in the corner of the office. But we have a Book Eye Pro 4 scanner. It’s a pretty flash bit of kit that has a specially designed V plate which means the spines of delicate book don’t get damaged. And there’s even software built in to help flatten the image out and remove the, ahem, buttock crease. You know what we mean.

If you have any other potential misconceptions about document storage, scanning or destruction you’d like us to help you shed, give us a call today.

Is it time to move office?

Wrapped chairs - office move - scan film or storeWhere do you stand on office moves? Does the thought fill you with excitement and give you an excuse to daydream about the fun new breakout space you’re going to create and the inspirational slogans you could paint artily on the exposed brick walls?

Or does it fill you with pure dread and make you consider firing people so you can stay in the cosy little office you’ve come to think of as home?

Whatever the case, making the decision to up sticks and relocate is one you’ll need to consider carefully. Here are some signs that suggest you might want to consider looking for a new home for your team – and also a few ideas that could help you put that decision off for a while if you need to.

You have to turn sideways to get between desks

And even that isn’t working quite so well since Christmas (we blame the mince pies). If you find you’d rather phone or email your colleague across the room than run the obstacle course that is the office, then perhaps you need a bit more space to spread out.

The alternative: Or how about you just re-arrange the desks? If you’ve been growing organically over the years and just adding new desks as the team expands, you probably don’t have an especially efficient layout. While you’re shifting stuff around, consider getting standing desks. Less chairs = more space. Simples!

You haven’t been into the archive room for months

Not because you haven’t needed to find stuff, it’s just you’re afraid you might cause an avalanche and be discovered only when some other brave soul else ventures in to find the source of that nasty smell. The solution: move to a bigger office with a bigger archive room.

The alternative: You could just have a clear out. Figure out which documents need to be kept as originals and get them stored off site. Scan anything that you don’t need originals of and have those originals securely destroyed. Then use the old archive room to create that break out space! NB: Don’t make your staff do this. You need them to keep doing what they do to earn money. We can help – just call us for a free assessment of your needs.

Everyone always looks mopey on a Monday

Sure we joke about Monday blues but it doesn’t have to be a thing! Creating a positive working environment can give staff morale a huge boost. So if your office is lacking in natural light, if it’s drafty or not very easy to get to or any one of a hundred things that could make it unpleasant to work in, moving could be a very good, well, move.

The alternative: Redecorate! You’re welcome, oh daydreamer. Now’s your chance to get the spray paint and stencils out and slogan up those walls to your heart’s content. Seriously, whatever is making your current office less than enjoyable to be in, fix it. Less expensive and time consuming than a move, right?

There are just too many people to fit

You’re a close team but no one wants to be that close, right? Like close enough to hear your neighbour chewing their cheese and ham sandwich at lunch. That’s the stuff nightmares are made off. If everyone is crammed into a small space, tempers are likely to start fraying and quickly. Moving to a bigger office gives everyone their own little patch where they can work happily and efficiently without wanting to punch anyone for that annoying little sound they make when they’re concentrating.

The alternative: Get rid of a few people. Not by firing them, obviously; that would be a little drastic (and illegal). But could some of your team work from home? If a couple of people got to work from their home office each day, you’d find things less of a squash at your HQ. They’d also be most likely be much happier without the commute, the parking, the need to wear office appropriate clothing etc.

Whether you’re planning to move offices or need help making your current one more space efficient, give our team a call to see how we can help out on the document storage, document scanning or secure data destruction side of things.

Why we’re the perfect match for the engineering, manufacturing, defence and aerospace industries

Heart jigsaw puzzle - perfect matchWe don’t like to play favourites but we do seem to have attracted a lot of clients from the engineering, manufacturing, defence and aerospace industries over the years. And though we also don’t like to sound immodest, we’re not all that surprised. You see, we’re well set up to deal with their particular needs – we’ve got the security, the capacity and the right equipment.

As it’s Valentine’s Day later this week, we thought we’d write up a little dating profile, if you like, to show you we’re the perfect match for someone in the engineering, manufacturing, defence or aerospace industry.

Government approved security

We’re the kind of team who, if we’re going to do something, like to do it properly. So when we say our document storage facilities are secure, we really do mean it. In fact, we’re government approved to hold and process classified documents and data, our premises and procedures have been audited by government security advisers and all digital files are held in a special secure network to protect them from unauthorised access.

We’ve got BS 10008:2014 certification too, which is to do with “evidential weight and legal admissibility of electronic information” – kind of like the standards police have to keep when they transport evidence in criminal investigations. And our staff  have not only been vetted to BS 7858 standards but have actually signed the Official Secrets Act. Let’s face it, we’re practically spies.

Set up for working with you in-house

Of course if that still isn’t secure enough for you, then we can always come to you. Yes that’s right, we can actually up tools and move in with you for a bit, scanning and digitising your documents on your premises so that no data or paperwork ever crosses your boundaries. And remember, our staff are checked and double checked, so you need not worry about letting them past the perimeter fence.

Not your ordinary scanners

We know that if you’re in the engineering, manufacturing, defence or aerospace you haven’t just got a few sheets of A4 that you want to put through the scanner. You’ve got endless technical drawings, blueprints, not to mention procurement documents, personnel records and so on.

We’re set up for high capacity runs and we can scan up to A0 in width and pretty much any length. We’ve even scanned a tonne of 40ft aircraft drawings (although we can’t tell you who for because you don’t have clearance!).

Lots of added extras

So you know that we scan stuff and we store stuff. But that’s not all! We can also extract information from legacy documents and feed it into document management and ERP/MRP systems. We can convert analogue data into digital data and documents into microfilm or microfiche that’s guaranteed for 500 years, creating information backup systems that meet contractual obligations.

And we can securely destroy everything from paper and photographs to digital records and microfilm (which, if you didn’t know, is a really very difficult and dangerous process – microfilm has an extremely high burning point and releases dangerous chemicals so you don’t want to be looking after that yourself).

What our engineers, manufacturers, defence and aerospace clients say

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what the procurement manager of a large West Country aerospace firm had to say about using our services:

“As one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in Europe we rely on fast, accurate access to our archive records – particularly build records and data sheets. We have used Scan Film or Store Ltd since it was established and they have always provided us with a first class service, Their prompt attention to our changing needs – from microfilm to digital scanning and document storage – has been impressive. I would recommend Scan Film or Store Ltd to any organisation that has complex or varied needs for cost-effective document management.” Ian Mitchell MCIPS, Procurement Manager

So what do you think? Ready to swipe right? (That’s a Tinder reference, by the way. Which is a dating app. Where you… never mind, it’s not that interesting). Anyway, if you think we’d be a good match for you, get in touch with the team today and we can arrange a first date!

Unique ways to beat Blue Monday

Scan Film or Store - How to survive Blue MondayHow are you feeling today? Not your best? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to the experts (by which we mean some clever marketing company who dreams these days up) today is Blue Monday. In other words, the day we’re statistically most likely to feel down in the dumps.

Why? Well Christmas is a distant memory but the evidence of festive scoffing is all too evident on our waistlines, we’ve yet to settle the credit card bill and failed to keep our New Year’s resolutions, the weather is terrible and it’s still ages until payday. If you weren’t feeling glum before, bet you are now, right?

Don’t worry, as always we are on hand to provide some tips for beating Blue Monday which, at the very least, will hopefully give you a bit of a giggle to help banish those blues.

Stick your swimsuit on

Ok hear us out. One of the reasons we’re feeling blue today is that the weather sucks, right? It’s cold, it’s gloomy, probably raining. But that’s just outside! Inside you can control your own climate. Stick the heating up (just for today mind, it’s not great for the environment), get into your swimsuit, mix up a batch of Mai Tais, line up a holiday playlist on iTunes or pop on a rerun of Hawaii 5-0 and you’re good to go. Who says you have to get on a plane to have a tropical break?

Smile, smile and smile again

It might feel like a grimace at first but the very act of smiling actually helps us feel better! If you’re struggling, watch a comedy show, Google “cats falling over”, whatever works for you. And then once you’ve got those facial muscles working properly, start smiling at other people. Smiling is contagious and knowing that you’ve helped boost someone else’s mood will give you a boost in return. Just don’t overdo it or you’ll come across as creepy and potentially add “getting slapped in the face” to the list of things making you feel blue today.

Ditch your old documents

People usually do their spring cleaning in March. Which makes sense, because that’s when spring actually starts. But how great would it feel to get to March and be able to take a day or two off because you’d already got yours sorted in January? There’s nothing as satisfying as having a good clear out, you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment and the newly decluttered environment will enhance your calm too. If you need help with document storage, document scanning or secure data destruction while you’re at it, do give us a shout.

Run away from it all

Usually we wouldn’t advocate running away from your problems but in this case we mean it literally. It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing but grabbing your trainers and pounding the pavements for even 10 or 15 minutes will do you a world of good. The fresh air, the exercise, the endorphins – not to mention the satisfaction of having actually got off your backside and done something productive. Go on, you can do it! We believe in you.

Embrace the blues

Failing all else, work along the principle of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” and fully embrace Blue Monday. Take a duvet day, get the Ben & Jerry’s out of the freezer, stick on The Notebook or Celine Dion’s greatest hits album and have a good old blub. There’s no proof as such that a good cry makes you feel better, but ask most people and they’ll tell you it does. Now, where did we put the tissues?

If worrying about document storage, document scanning or secure data destruction is part of what’s getting you down today, give us a call and find out how we can help. We don’t mind if you have a bit of a cry on our shoulder!

The organisational secrets of Santa Inc’s admin elves

Christmas admin elf As you’ll remember from last year’s festive testimonials, we’re like this (picture us crossing our fingers closely) with Santa and his crew. Well, actually we’ve only met the big man a couple of times; we mostly deal with his elves. But that’s not a bad thing. Honestly, Saint Nick is more of a brand ambassador these days – it’s the admin elves who do the real work (don’t tell him we said so though, he’s got a very fragile ego).

Anyway, here’s how operations are run at Christmas Towers, and the lessons you can learn from these busy little guys when it comes to organising your office administration.

You can’t make naughty or nice lists like you used to

GDPR. They’re feeling the impact up there in the North Pole. Up until last year it was simple – Santa made his list, he checked it twice and he found out whether people were naughty or nice.

This year his elves have had to undertake a massive project to gain consent to hold data on the world’s 1.9 billion children. They also had to go through historic records and destroy any data collected under the old rules which would contravene the news ones.

Luckily we were able to help them by securely destroying several thousand boxes of these lists using our special cross shredding and pulping service. No one will be using your childhood indiscretions against you now, you can be sure of that.

Scanning invoices creates a lot more room for making toys

You’d think that with the price of land up north, Christmas Towers would be vast and spacious. But it’s surprisingly cramped. When we first visited (and no, we can’t tell you where it is or share photos – we had to sign an NDA) we were literally tripping over bags of reindeer feed and boxes of old receipts for elf-sized carpentry tools, baker’s sugar and string.

We couldn’t help them with the reindeer feed, but we did sort the receipts for them. Thankfully they were able to let us use Santa’s sleigh to get all the boxes back home (usually we’d take them off in one of our vans but they struggle a little in those rather extreme arctic conditions). We scanned them all, created a searchable database so they can retrieve any of them at the touch of a button, then securely destroyed the hard copies, which they said they didn’t need anymore (otherwise we’d have stored them here, obviously).

Don’t rely on a reindeer temp to find the right archive box

This is strictly between us, but there was a right royal screw up last year when several of the elves were signed off with tinsel blindness at the same time and the office ended up seriously understaffed. Unfortunately, this group included the only three elves who understood the document  storage system. So when the head chef wanted the original candy cane recipe from the archives (he was going through a bit of a ‘back to basics’ period, apparently) they dispatched a reindeer who was acting as temporary cover to find it. Naturally he hadn’t a clue where to start, upset several boxes of old files, got hopelessly lost and ultimately did not deliver said recipe. Which caused Chef to have a hissy fit of epic proportions and storm off muttering something about amateurs. It was all very Gordon-Ramsay-does-Christmas.

This year, they’ve relocated their archive to our Bridgwater storage unit – not only to create even more space, but because our barcoding system means we can easily find anything they’re looking for and either send a scanned copy straight across or courier a hard copy to them within 24 hours (assuming the snow isn’t too heavy out their way).

So there you have it. Lessons in life and business from the festive folks way up North. Happy Christmas one and all!

PS In the interest of full disclosure we should probably point out that Santa isn’t actually a client of ours. This is just a bit of festive fun, ok? We do provide data destruction, document storage, document scanning and a number of other services that would be useful to admin elves if they existed. If you could use one or more of these services, give us a call and we’ll see how we can help. Unfortunately we can’t actually supply you with an admin elf.

Have you thought through your go-paperless process?

Paperless key on a keyboardThe paperless workplace movement has been around for a fair while now, and rightly so. After all, trees don’t grow on… erm… well, you know what we mean. It just isn’t sustainable to keep hacking down forests so we can scribble a short note on an A4 piece of paper and then toss it in the bin when we’re through with it. The environment will eventually go off in a huff and we’ll be left to try and survive an eternal winter eating nothing but foraged mushrooms or something equally unpleasant.

But while going paperless is great as a concept, it’s actually something which should take a bit of thought if you want to achieve good results. Especially if you’re running a larger or more established business where any change is likely to take a degree of effort to implement.

Here are a few things you’ll need to include in your go-paperless process:

Get staff on board with paperless

This is by far the most important part of any change management process. Get it wrong, and with all the will in the world you just won’t succeed. Even if you threaten to fire people for using more than 2.5 sheets of paper a day, how are you going to police that? The best way to ensure that your mission to go paperless succeeds is to make it everyone’s mission. Except more fun than that. Because if it’s going to be a ‘mission’, no one will do it. The point is, get buy in before you do anything else.

Invest in the right software

The best way to get people on board with something new is to make it super easy – ideally easier than what they’re doing now. Most of us are pretty lazy at heart. Or just super busy. If your paperless system involves new hardware or software – whether that’s tablets to replace paper order forms, a file-sharing system like Dropbox or GSuite, e-signature software, or something bespoke – make sure everyone understands how to use it so that they actually do use it. This might involve investing in some training. Do it. It will be worth it.

Set up a great filing system

Just like the filing cabinets of yesteryear (ah, nostalgia!), online filing systems need to be clever. It’s no good leaving everyone to rely on a search function. There needs to be a system of clearly defined folders and subfolders, with uniform labelling protocols for the documents they contain so no one gets confused. Again, there might be the need for some training on this and you’ll almost certainly need to circulate some guidelines otherwise people are likely to end up very confused. And confused people tend to lose stuff, even if it is in the Cloud somewhere rather than an archive room.

Put the message out

In order to make a paperless system work, you’ll need to have people outside the company on board too. Look at where your incoming paper is coming from. Can you ask your suppliers to send electronic invoices instead of paper ones? Are there any unnecessary circulars you can unsubscribe from? Have you gone for the paperless statement options on your bank account? If something doesn’t need to come to you in a paper format then make sure it’s changed to an electronic one. As a bonus, you’ll have a lot less mail to file.

Set protocols on printers

While your staff may be on board with the idea of going paperless, they’re only human. On those occasions where they do have to print something, they may well forget to tick the “print two sided” option, for example. By setting protocols on your printers, you can make sure that single sided has to be a deliberate choice rather than an absentminded mistake. Likewise you can use the analytics from your printers to see where the bulk of the printing is coming from, whether that be individuals or departments, so you can focus your efforts to reduce paper use in those areas.

If you’re looking at going paperless and you want to talk to someone about scanning your documents or even destroying the ones you no longer need, get in touch today to see how we can help.

Paperwork – what to keep and what to chuck

Man trying to decide whether to keep a piece of paper or throw it awaySometimes it feels like, despite the fact that we’re living in a so-called digital world, we are surrounded by really quite stupid amounts of paper. Receipts, invoices, records of all shapes and sizes, forms, statements – you get the picture.

It’s tempting to take a Marie Kondo minimalist approach to it all and get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy” (in other words 100% of the contents of most filing cabinets). But sadly there are times when it is important to embrace your inner hoarder and keep hold of stuff for a year or 40.

Here are a few examples of things you might have lying around at work or at home, and whether you can bin them or not.

COSHH records

Unless your COSSH records have reached the grand old age of 40, you’re going to have to keep them. It’s the law. You may not want to look at them all that often (and who’d blame you) but do make sure they’re secure. If you don’t have a suitable archive room, sort yourself out with document storage faclity that is alarmed, monitored and environmentally controlled like ours. We can even scan or courier documents back to you within a few hours if you’re desperate for something to cure your insomnia.

Photos of yourself from the 80s

We can safely say that unless you’re Kylie Minogue, Charlie Sheen or Eddie Murphy, the 80s probably weren’t all that kind to you. So if that particular photo album happens to catch fire, don’t be too quick to grab the extinguisher. Alternatively, you could put them up around the house as an example to your children, proving that the “sheer dresses” and “statement socks” they think are so TD (ie. “to die”, which is the modern, lazy form of “to die for”) are going to make them blush when they’re in their 40s.

Contractor time sheets

OK, so this one has two answers. Once they’ve been transferred to your accounting system, contractor time sheets should be kept for a year. However, if they’re needed for revenue purposes then you legally have to keep them for six years. If you’re likely to need to access to them quickly, you can either get them scanned and stored off site or make sure your document storage company offers a same day courier service (hint: we do).

Instruction manuals

So you got a snazzy new camera / phone / George Foreman grill and it came with an instruction manual as thick as an average bible. Do you shove it in a filing cabinet so that, should the fuse blow, you know exactly how to replace it? No, you do not. This is 2018 folks. Instruction manuals are accessible online. Just Google the model number of the item in question and you’ll find either an official copy on the brand’s website or, at the very least, a scanned version that some do-gooding soul has thought fit to post as a PDF somewhere.

Quotes

This is another one with two answers. If a quote has been successful then you need to keep hold of it until it’s paid and has been audited. But if it’s been unsuccessful, you should hang on to it for a year. Which seems unfair really – kind of making you relive that failed bid for 365 days. “You lost, sucker – someone else got the deal!” Not nice.

Old love letters

Well now this is a tricky one. On the one hand, if they’re from a previous relationship to the one you’re in now, you might want to ditch them. Having said that, they could form the basis of that romantic novel you’re planning on writing in your retirement under a flouncy pen name, so perhaps it’s worth hanging onto them. Just make sure they’re hidden discretely away.

Whatever documents you need to keep, we’re happy to help. Just call one of the team for a quote – we’ll do all the rest, including providing the boxes, doing the packing and transporting everything to our Bridgwater site.

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