Document management systems (DMS) help construction businesses go green. While construction is a booming industry, along with many other industries, it has received criticism for not being green enough in the conduct of its business.
While green construction is a trend that’s on the rise, it’s a challenge for most construction businesses to keep up with it. One major reason is that going green will only happen if the builder can still compete on cost.
Fortunately, going green doesn’t always mean spending more money. Here are a few tips on how you can save your coatings company cash by going paperless.
Most companies make the decision to go paperless in order to save money. In most instances, the cost savings are tremendous. When you think about it, it makes sense. Printing contracts, site plans, invoices, and supply lists require expensive paper.
In addition to saving money on paper, your company also saves money on ink or toner, folders, filing cabinets, and label makers. You don’t have to pay for maintenance or repairs for printers, either.
When you send documents electronically, you won’t waste money on envelopes, stamps, and courier delivery services. The best part is that you can get an immediate response from the recipient even when you’re not paying for expedited delivery.
When you save documents in digital format, they don’t take up any space at all. For example, an 8 GB hard drive is small enough to put in your pocket. On the other hand, when you store paper documents, you need a lot of space. First of all, you have to have filing cabinets that organize your information with a method. (Most of the time, this is done alphabetically.) You also have to find a way to keep your documents secure. Those filling cabinets may need to be locked, or you may decide to put them in a secured storage room.
Storing information for a few clients doesn’t take up a lot of room, but over the years, your company will accumulate a lot of records, and most of them will be stored for several years.
Having to find additional storage space may be a good problem to have, as it’s a visible sign of your company’s growth. That being said, it’s much easier and cheaper to switch to electronic document management than to move to a bigger building or pay for offsite storage.
How long does it take your employees to find a certain document right now? Does your staff sometimes spend hours looking for lost or misplaced paperwork?
With an electronic file manager, it takes only a few clicks to find exactly what you’re looking for. You can even search the content of your documents by doing full-text searches.
Organizing and filing paperwork also takes a lot more time than saving a PDF document electronically. No time will be lost in looking for the stapler or dealing with a jammed printer if your company goes paperless.
When you send documentation electronically, it’s much easier to communicate with your clients and vendors. Sending an email or sharing your information via a DMS is instantaneous, secure, and can handle a large number of files of any size all at once.
Even if you need a signature or written authorization to proceed with the work, you can use electronic document management to move forward now instead of next week. Obviously, going paperless can speed up your turnaround time tremendously.
Accessing Your Documents
With electronic document management, it’s easy to access your documents from anywhere as long as there’s an Internet connection, or if you have an app-based DMS, Internet might not be an issue. You can view invoices or orders from the construction site without having to call or drive to the office.
And since you have access to real-time information, it’s easy to correct your course if you discover that you’re going over budget or that you missed a step in the filing process.
Going paperless can happen all at once or in stages, depending on your preferences. It might be a good idea to identify where you can reap the greatest benefits from ditching paper. This can be done by looking at what creates the biggest problems for you. For example, is it the fact that you’re trying to keep track of handwritten timesheets? Does it take too long to send out estimates or contracts to your customers?
1. You need to start with selecting and implementing an electronic document management system. A DMS is more than just a file manager: you can restrict user access easily while allowing authorized individuals to view documents on any device from any location. DMS also helps you create workflows to improve overall work space efficiency.
2. Stop printing documents. It seems obvious, but it can be difficult for some people. Whenever you create a new document, whether it’s an estimate or a contract, you should use the print-to-PDF function. This allows you to save the document in an unalterable format without printing and filing it. If printing is stopped, people will realize to an even greater extent how DMS helps big and small construction firms go green.
3. It’s a good idea to scan the documents you’re currently using to convert to a paperless organization. You don’t have to go back and scan all of your records right away — or at all — if you don’t want to. Going forward, you should scan any paperwork you receive via snail mail while you work with your contractors, vendors, and customers to switch to electronic communication. Additionally, a DMS can be a powerful post-scanning document automation tool that makes handling a large volume of documents easier than ever.
There are several benefits to going green as a coatings contracting business. Could going paperless or using a DMS be a good option for your construction business?
About the Author:
Jesse Wood is the CEO of document management software vendor, eFileCabinet. Founded in 2001, eFileCabinet, Inc. began as a cutting-edge tool to digitally store records in accounting firms. As it grew in popularity, eFileCabinet developed into a full-fledged electronic document management solution designed to help organizations automate redundant processes, ensure security, and solve common office problems. For more information, contact: eFileCabinet, www.efilecabinet.com