Many farmers have made at least an initial move toward a paperless office. (For those interested on ways to get started, Forbes offers five quality tips here.) From physical devices such as scanners and fax machines, to software and mobile solutions such as Google Docs and Dropbox, there are a lot of different ways to reduce your paper usage and store important files in an efficient, easy-to-retrieve manner.
But, as the old joke goes, "To err is human – to really mess things up takes a computer." New technology occasionally means new ways to make mistakes. Matt Peterson, CEO of eFileCabinet, points out four common paperless blunders that are relatively easy to fix.
1. Mislabeling or inconsistently labeling files. "When you scan in documents, you should take a lot of care in how you name them," Peterson says. "Otherwise, you might not be able to find a particular file later because of how you initially labeled it."
2. Hoarding files. You can overload a physical file cabinet with so many files, it becomes impossible to locate anything. You run the same risk storing year after year of digital files, especially those that are haphazardly labeled or indexed. "You want to index as much as you can so you’re not just sifting through a list of files," he says. eFileCabinet includes a "retention" feature that allows users to select how long they want to store particular files, he adds.
3. Relying on "dead graphics." A scanner is an essential tool for any paperless office, but make sure you buy a scanner that has optical character recognition (OCR) functionality. Otherwise, you’re creating "dead graphics" that don’t have any text search ability, Peterson says. "With OCR, you can do Google-like searches within the document rather than just searching for the document name," he says. Google Drive and eFileCabinet are two examples of cloud-based storage solutions that have OCR functionality.
4. Chaining files to your office PC. "The world is becoming very mobile, and you’re never truly off the clock," Peterson says. "That’s especially true for farmers who are conducting business in their tractors or away from their offices." Peterson’s advice is to look into document management services that include cloud-based or mobile app offerings. That way, critical documents don’t end up stuck on a single computer.