Guest post by Dan Mathews

Think of all the times you misplaced your wallet. Once you find it (if you ever do), you vow to remain organized. If you could just always put your wallet – and keys and phone – in the same location, you’d never lose them. Creating a system for where you store your must-have items means you’ll never be stranded at a store without your cash or ATM card again.

Keeping business documents and data organized is just as important as keeping your life organized – maybe even more so because the breadth of what you could lose is greater than a handful of credit cards and your driver’s license. Disorganization in business isn’t just annoying, it’s dangerous. Misplacing vital documents and information can mean missing out on business or exposing private information to the wrong people.

Scan Existing Documents

Going paperless is an excellent way to reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Before you can rely solely on digital documents, though, you have to figure out what to do with the paper documents you already have. Document scanning is a first step toward creating a more eco-friendly office.

When a hard-copy document is lost, more paper is required to replace it. Hard-copy backups also require twice the paper to create the backup copy. Here are just a few benefits of document scanning:

  • It’s easy to back up a copy of a digital file – you simply copy the file and store it in a separate place from the original file. You can do this as many times as necessary.
  • Instead of copying hard-copy documents, scanned documents can be emailed to whoever needs to see them.
  • There’s less of a chance that files will be lost or misplaced when they’re stored on your computer. With digital documents, you can search for files by keyword to easily find them, even if they’ve been misfiled.

To keep information safe, make sure to use a reputable shredding company after documents are scanned. Your shredding provider should safely and securely shred the documents and then recycle them.

Ask for E-Signatures

Electronic contracts and signatures are part of electronic content management, and they make the entire signing process run smoothly and efficiently. Here’s what e-signatures do:

  • The contract is sent to all parties who have to sign it. Each person can read the contract and then sign it when they’re ready. There’s usually guidance to show you where you have to date and sign the contract.
  • When the contract is signed, the necessary parties are alerted.
  • Once the contract has been signed by everyone, each person gets a copy of the contract that they can download and save for their records.
  • The contract may be archived for easy access later on.

Not only are digital contracts more efficient, but they’re also more secure. It’s not nearly as easy to access a protected digital contract as it is to find a hardy-copy contract in a filing cabinet. If the server the contracts are stored on is secure, the risk of hacking is probably less than the risk of theft.

Data Backup

Data backup processes should always be up-to-date. The goal should be twofold: to prevent problems as much as possible, and to know how to handle problems should they arise. Far too often, data is lost because an employee is rushing through the process. When processes are streamlined through easy online workflows and automation, employees are less likely to make damaging errors.

If data does go missing, the server should be immediately locked and isolated, and the database should be frozen until the data can be recovered. Companies are wary of doing this, though, because that can mean downtime and loss of income. Continuing to use the server can cause permanent data loss, which is why it’s so important for data backups to already be in place.

Create and Update Systems

There should be routines and systems for the tasks you handle on a regular basis. For example, if hard-copy documents or digital documents come across your desk, it’s best to only handle them once. If you need to, set aside a specific time (or times) of the day to go through mail, paperwork and emails. Act upon them the first time you handle them so that you don’t create more work for yourself.

As you go through your day, you’ll notice that some processes are not as efficient as they can be. It’s important to take the time to update them as needed. If you push it off now, you’ll just end up performing a less-efficient process over and over. That will eat up a lot more time than taking an hour right now to fix it.

Final Thoughts

Administrative tasks aren’t always the most exciting, but organization is one of the main components of a well-run business. When there’s less chaos, everyone can find what they need right away and get on with their work. Administrative employees and office managers have an extremely important role: to keep the logistics in order so the business can be as productive and successful as possible.

Author Bio- Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.