Words: Vanessa Salvia
Do you remember the old “going paperless” speculations? The advent of computers promised a work environment that was streamlined and paper-free. Digital workflows would eliminate lost time spent digging through stacks of filing cabinets and keep sensitive information more secure. For many reasons though, the world didn’t completely abandon paper. And even though we live in a web 2.0 world, we all still use paper every day. But, it’s easier than ever now to transition to a paperless office, and there are numerous benefits. For instance:
- Less time completing, filing, organizing, and keeping track of paperwork
- Collaboration is easier
- Less paper means less clutter
- Fewer headaches from printer upkeep, ink, and toner
- You’ll need less postage and less physical storage space
- Compliance is easier
- It’s eco-friendly
Restoration & Remediation Magazine says the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year, and nearly 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up thrown away by the end of the day. They estimate that more than 70% of businesses today would fail within the first three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper-based records due to fire or flood. Here are some apps and software that make it easy to remove paper from your workflow.
Evernote is one of the most respected names in digital note-taking and organizing. Their app Scannable is available for iPhone and iPad. Use it to scan documents, receipts, business cards — basically any paper that comes your way — including whiteboards. It uses your camera to automatically adjust images so your scans are clear and easy to read. Once you’ve scanned, send documents via email or text, or export them as PDF and JPG files to Evernote and other apps. If your team wants to use Evernote, it’s just $14.99 per user per month to allow you to sync across unlimited devices; clip, organize, and share web pages with Web Clipper; record audio notes; create to-do lists; add notes to PDFs; forward emails directly into your Evernote account, and more. Evernote Scannable is free to download and use.
Availability: Apple App Store
Cost: Free to download and use
If you or your employees have a lot of receipts to organize or expenses to account for, give Expensify a try. They even have the Expensify Card, which automatically organizes transactions. Expensify tracks transactions and organizes them (it’s automatic or customizable), so you or your employees don’t have to go through the hassle of submitting expense reports. Users scan their receipts through the app. SmartScan will read and automatically log their receipt details including the date, merchant, and amount. Users can also email their receipts. Expensify can be linked to a bank account and personal or company credit cards to automatically import other transactions. A web dashboard displays spending by different categories with time references. Expensify even connects to GPS to track work mileage. In other perks, the app has an ExpensePoint feature that allows users to split expenses; send and receive money via Venmo; and connect to apps like Uber, Lyft, and HotelTonight to automatically import those expenses.
Cost: Two plans for individuals and two plans for groups/companies. The Track plan for individuals is $4.99 per month, with unlimited SmartScans, automatic mileage tracking, and categorizing expenses. The Submit plan is $4.99 per month and, in addition to the above, automatically submits reports for reimbursement, submits receipts. The Collect plan for groups/companies is $5 per employee, per month and automates receipt collection and reimbursement, auto-syncs to accounting software and offers the free Expensify card. The Control plan is $9 per employee, per month and also manages approval workflows. With a group/company plan, employers can integrate with accounting software.
GoCanvas is actually a collection of customizable features that gives you “an app for that,” for basically any action that a field service business would normally do with a form, manual, or document. You can use their app builder to add or remove fields to design the app to meet your business’s unique needs. It uses cloud storage, so you can access your information from any of your mobile devices anytime you have cellular or wireless service. Examples of forms you can customize include:
- A new customer form
- Equipment tracking
- Inspection form
- Work order
- Daily driving log
- And much more
It might seem a little “techy” to build your own apps, but there’s no coding involved. Out of many reviews on SoftwareAdvice.com, the overall rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars for ease of use. The app offers a free trial for the first 10 days.
Cost: Business: $45 per month per user; Professional: $55 per month per user; Enterprise: contact for pricing
There’s no longer a need for paper documents for new hires, NDAs, loans, or other documents. HelloSign allows you to electronically request and add legally binding signatures to any document through an intuitive web interface, a developer-friendly API, or as a Salesforce add-on. You can set up templates for common reusable documents like offer letters, or sales agreements, then save them for the next time you need them. All it takes is selecting who you want to sign your document, adding your file into HelloSign, entering the email of the person(s) that needs to sign, and adding a signature box to your document. Then send out the document out for signing. HelloSign integrates with many common file sharing services like Dropbox, Google Docs, Oracle, SalesForce, and Slack.
Cost: Free basic plan; Essentials: $15 per user per month; Standards: $25 per user per month; Premium: contact for pricing
Now, fax service can follow you wherever you go. You can send and receive faxes from computers, smartphones, or tables through the RingCentral app. Even if you’re on a phone call, a fax to you will come through. The basic Fax plan lets you fax up to 1,500 pages per month (with an additional 4.9c per page fee if you go beyond that). The combination plan offers unlimited faxes, a business-specific phone number, and conference calling abilities, among other things. RingCentral operates using VoIP technology; meaning voice over Internet Protocol. This technology has been around for quite some time now, and works to let you place and receive phone calls using an internet connection rather than over a traditional phone line, and fax information over the internet rather than having to use a traditional fax number. A VoIP phone plan allows you or your employees to take and make calls anywhere—from their office phones, desktop computers, laptops, even from their personal smartphones—without having to be tethered to a hard-wired landline and equipment. Faxing is just one of the things you can do with this technology.
Cost: Fax: $17.99 per user per month; Fax, phone, and video: $24.99 per user per month