Take a moment to think back to the days before the Internet and email existed. It was a time when all business operations were done by hand. Employee attendance was tracked using traditional punch clocks or sign-in sheets. Customer communication was handled by picking up a landline phone or sending a handwritten letter. Personnel records were managed using lots of paper, files and file cabinets. Technology has surely changed the way we do business today!
While maintaining business files the old school way may still appeal to some, there are many advantages for pest control companies of all sizes to convert those paper files to digital data. Here are three benefits of investing in a document management system, along with a few tips for a seamless transition.
1. Ease of finding information
One of the main advantages of housing files electronically is the ease of retrieving data—and the ability to do so in a timely fashion. Anyone who has ever filed papers or searched file cabinets for a specific document knows how labor-intensive the task can be. In fact, a 2015 survey of U.S. office workers conducted by Software Advice found that workers in traditional office spaces spend an average of six hours per week searching for paper documents. That’s almost a full workday!
Document management systems have sophisticated search engines that allow employees to search a library of various file types using a single keyword. This is especially useful when it comes time to file taxes or participate in an audit. Many QualityPro accredited companies can attest to this. Each winter, 10 percent of QualityPro accredited companies are notified by mail of an audit and given 60 days to submit an extensive list of items—from employee applications to receipts for background check packages—that prove they are in compliance with all QualityPro standards. Searching for all of these documents manually would be enough to give anyone an instant headache.
Tip: Be as detailed as possible when naming electronic files. This is especially important for QualityPro accredited companies. If you are storing an employee application, don’t just call it “job application.” Instead, consider adding more descriptors and a date. This file name might work better: “Employment Application_ John Doe_5-1-18.”
2. Reliable backup
A traditional filing system relies on employees to store hundreds, maybe even thousands, of documents in a precise order and location for easy retrieval. Talk about a daunting task! Unfortunately, this leaves more room for error than electronic filing. What if an employee leaves a hiring document laying on a table and someone accidentally throws it away? What if a customer invoice is filed in the wrong cabinet? These types of incidents are bound to happen when using paper files. On the flip side, if your company uses a cloud-based document management system, you can rest assured that all of your files will be backed up to the cloud on a regular basis. This means that if your office and equipment are damaged in a flood, fire or other natural disaster, you’ll still be able to restore your digital files. Just another reason to consider having electronic records!
Tip: The one downside to an electronic filing system is the increased chance of an unauthorized person hacking into your network and gaining access to your confidential files. If you are going to invest in a document management system, you should also consider purchasing insurance and reliable security software.
3. Cost saver
A document management system is a big investment, but it’s one that will allow you to cut costs associated with paper, printing, folders, file cabinets and more. Just the printing alone adds up. A printed sheet of paper can cost anywhere from one penny to one dollar, depending on the type of printer used. Creating digital documents costs nothing. As an added bonus, you will gain back some of the dedicated office space that once housed all of your paper files.
Tip: If you make the move to a document management system, consider scanning all past and current documents, so you can start fresh with everything in one place. The National Pest Management Association’s HR consulting firm, Seay Management Consultants,* advises that electronic documents need to represent an exact replica of the paper version. This means that if the document is a scan, it should include all of the text on the document with no margins or other identifiers cut off. If the document has color components, such as a signature in blue ink, the scan should also be in color. Additionally, when a document is being committed to long-term storage, it needs to be exported to an unalterable format, such as a PDF or image.
The bottom line is that going digital with your filing process will make things easier for everyone. Technicians will be able to access customer files on their smartphones when in the field. Human resources representatives will have more time to keep detailed files on employee hiring and training. The list goes on. ●
*QualityPro accredited companies have access to Seay Management Consultants at no additional fee.
Allison Allen is the executive director of QualityPro. View the QualityPro Accreditation standards and learn about certifications for your services at www.npmaqualitypro.org.