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PC World - You have no excuse for being buried under paper these days. The tools to digitize most or all of your pile are readily at hand and very affordable. We're not exactly a paperless society yet, but this guide will help you get to less paper, and that's a step in several right directions: increased efficiency, better security, and a reduced environmental footprint. We've also added a few ways to eliminate paper from your workflow, the better to declutter your office--and your mind.
The simplest way to eliminate paper documents is to scan and archive them. Try one of SimpleScan Connect's portable scanners, which offer single- or double-sided scanning capability. They also come with a free service to upload scanned documents to popular cloud services such as Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive, among others.
If you're dealing with formats more cumbersomeA than standard printouts, try a desktop scanner such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap V600, which brings the line's one-button scanning to bound and oversize documents.
To add a scanner to a crowded office, buy a multifunction printer, which hasA a scanner built in, plus accompanying software that can create PDFs from scanned documents for storing or sending. Office models will have an automatic document feeder for scanning multiple pages easily. Get one that can scan two-sided documents for the greatest efficiency and convenience.
Many mobile apps let you use your smartphone or tablet camera to capture documents. However, these are suitable only for dealing with very low volumes of documents.
Whichever scanning method you choose, add a good document-management software package such as Nuance PaperPort, so you can create a searchable, cloud-accessible digital archive from all of your scans.
Set up paperless faxing
Archaic though it sounds, some industries and individuals still rely on faxed documents for some of their business procedures. Fortunately, advances in technology have made this relic of 20th-century office culture more environmentally friendly.
Multifunction printers generally have the ability to email incoming fax messages as PDF file attachments to a PC for viewing. This arrangement makes the messages easy to read, forward, or file without ever printing them out. In addition, such machines typically offer a software driver that allows you to fax documents directly from the Print dialog box on a desktop or laptop PC. Alternatively, online fax services such as eFax, FaxZero, and MyFax let you send and receive paperless faxes for a fee.
Businesses that rely heavily on faxing or want integration with a messaging back end such as Exchange Server should consider advanced server-based options such as GFI FaxMaker or RightFax. Be aware that these on-premise software applications can be pricey and require some initial configuration work.
Embrace electronic signatures
Signatures perpetuate paper. If you can't eliminate the approval process, at least adopt electronic signatures. For internal paperwork, a system that relies on an electronic medium such as email to approve decisions or purchases should be adequate.
Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.