Bills, Invoices, Purchase Orders, Receipts, Contracts… the amount of paperwork a business generates adds up quickly. Without a well-organized system for record keeping, it can be paralyzing, with detrimental effects to getting paid on time, tracking accounts payable, and reducing your tax liability during tax season.
The questions you may ask yourself around record keeping are multi-faceted:
- Who is responsible for keeping the records for your business?
- What happens when you need retrieve a vital record like a contract or tax paperwork?
- Where do you store your physical records?
- When do you process your paperwork?
- Why am I even doing this anyways?
- How do you keep track of inbound and outbound paperwork?
- What percentage of my documents need to be secure?
But, perhaps the most important question you have to ask yourself is, “How much time does managing documents take away from actually running my business?
Yes, How You Organize Your Records Can Waste Valuable Time
One common problem doctors face right now is that for every hour spent with patients requires two hours focused on record keeping.
While that example may seem like an outlier, given the compliance issues specific to medical professionals, another study by Deloitte found that in retail banks, moving their document management system to the cloud reduced operational costs in processing alone by as much as 25%. There was also an average reduction in record keeping management costs between 60-70%.
These associated costs include:
- Employee salaries
- Physical storage
- Physical space
- Relevant record keeping training
- And more
Anecdotally, it’s not uncommon to hear of contractors or landscapers spending entire afternoons driving to their client’s houses to collect invoices, then spending time manually inputting payments into their accounting software.
This is time that could be spent with family, working on developing their business, or simply focusing on relaxation.
When looking at it through this lens, the problem seems apparent, unfortunately, many business owners aren’t aware, and write it off as “business as usual.”
There is a More Efficient Way for Organizing Documents
Fortunately, there is a better way; the cloud.
The cloud provides many benefits, but for the sake of brevity, let’s focus on three:
With free tools like Adobe Scan, you can quickly and easily use your smartphone camera to convert your documents to a PDF and have them automatically uploaded to the cloud.
The Biggest Challenges Around Managing Records
When it comes to accounts payable, you likely receive your bills in a variety of formats; a paper invoice here, a digital purchase order there, not to mention operational expenses such as internet, rent, electricity and so on.
This combination of digital and paper formats leave you with a handful of choices.
- Do you print bills, dedicate space, and use a physical filing system?
- Do you scan and store everything on a local computer or external hard drive?
- Do you move all of your documents into the cloud?
Let’s look at these options a little more closely.
1. The Risk and Cost of Paper File Storage
With physical storage, you have the benefit of having many years of well-established filing systems available to use, but the sorting and arrangement of files, no matter how good your record keeping system is, still takes up a considerable amount of time.
Using a paper filing system also means you need to dedicate space to storing your files. Also, since all paper files eventually need to be stored in the same physical space, if your business requires consistent travel, you risk losing or damaging paper files while in transit.
Also, as your business grows, so does the paperwork. Your file cabinet footprint, archive storage, and expenses related to hiring a filing clerk are all things you’ll need to contend with. Because of all this, paper storage can be cumbersome for any small business owner to manage on their own.
Consider this job description for a file clerk to see what the typical job responsibilities are.
PRIMARY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
- Maintain, organize and index all case files for attorney; file correspondence, pleadings and other documentation in an accurate and timely manner.
- Find and retrieve information from files in response to request from authorized users.
- Print Emails and files in appropriate folders.
- Create new entries and sub files as needed.
- Keep records of materials field or removed, using log books or computers.
- Modify and improve filing systems, or implement new filing systems.
- Perform periodic inspections of materials or files in order to ensure correct placement, legibility, and proper condition.
- Place materials into storage receptacles, such as file cabinets, boxes, bins or drawers, according to classification and identification information.
- Scan ir read incoming materials in order to determine how and where they should be classified or filed.
- Purge and box closed files to be sent to storage according to file maintenance guidelines and/or legal requirements.
- Perform general office duties such as typing and operating office machines. *Perform related job duties as required.
According to Payscale.com, the average file clerk is paid is between $19,345 – $35,471/ year. Relying on a paper filing system means the costs of hiring multiple file clerks will only grow alongside your business.
There are also a few other considerations too: What will you do when you move offices? How do you guarantee your paper storage is safe and secure? What about the unfortunate event of a flood, fire, or other natural disaster?
Depending on how far back your records go, you risk of losing these files forever.
With Adobe Document Cloud, you can scan, store, and secure files quickly and permanently, without the hassle that comes with physical storage.
2. Why Storing Files Locally on Your Computer and External Hard Drive Isn’t As Modern As You’d Think.
Storing files locally on your computer or on external hard drives certainly feels like a more modern approach to file management, and it’s what many business owners do today.
Digital files minimizes the issues around file cabinet footprint, and saves considerable time through the filing and file retrieval process (if you don’t mind spending the time standing at a scanner, scanning in your paper files that is.)
It’s a step in the right direction. Storing files on external hard drives greatly reduces the portability and archival issues inherent with a paper record keeping system. And it’s certainly faster to attach important documents in an email than it would be to hire a courier.
But is local digital file storage any less risky than a paper filing system? Not really.
Consider, with a paper record keeping system it would take a flood or fire to damage your files.
With local computer storage all it takes is a glass of water spilling on your laptop or a power surge, and you risk losing everything.
This of course can be mitigated when you’re backing your files on external hard drive, but then, you have to consider the theft risk that comes with consolidating all of your files.
3. Why Adobe Document Cloud is The Best Option For Record Keeping
It’s understandable if you’re hesitant about moving to “the cloud,” since it’s only become mainstream within the last decade, and there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding it.
All the cloud really is however is a series of secure file servers maintained by large corporations that allow you to upload and edit your documents on the go.
Here’s a simple breakdown of how it works with Adobe Document Cloud:
- Use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC (Free Trial available) to create a PDF.
- Upload your files to Adobe Document Cloud secure servers.
- Manage and sort your files online.
- Send secure files, ask for signatures, and keep your business moving.
That’s really it.
With Adobe Document Cloud, you can access and edit your documents from your computer, smartphone or tablet, making it easy to run your business wherever you are.
If file security is a concern, you can rest easy knowing that Adobe Document Cloud is compliant with the most rigorous security standards.
Here are just a few examples of the security standards Adobe follows:
For a full list of security compliances, click here.
Not only are your files secure, but it’s also extremely simple to collect electronic signatures on the go and convert your physical documents into PDFs
With tools like Adobe Scan, you only need to take a picture from your smartphone, and thanks to built-in optical character recognition the paper file is automatically converted to PDF. This means you can easily search, highlight, comment, and edit text from any device.
The best part is, if you’re concerned about keeping physical or local copies of your files, you still can, resting easy knowing you’ll always have a backup in the event something goes wrong.
Convenience and efficiency are the main reasons why the State of Hawaii, The Academy of Art, REA Group, and so many others rely on Adobe Document Cloud.
Ready to Stop Wasting Time Organizing Files?
As an Intuit customer, you can get Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for as low as $11.99/month.
If you have any additional questions, check out Adobe Document Cloud Frequently Asked Questions or send us an email at QRCeditor@intuit.com.
Your time is valuable. Reclaim it, and start focusing on the things that will drive the most growth both personally and professionally.
Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.
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