By Tony Burnett, professional services director at Altodigital,

Mistake 1: Ineffective Document Management

We all know how expensive office space can be, so it goes without saying that you want to minimise the amount of space that gets wasted for storage. Filing cabinets and draws are bulky and often a poor use of space – especially if you’re a growing business. However, with document and data capture technologies becoming increasingly available now is the perfect time to turn all your old files digital. You might think that turning all of your paperwork into digital copy is a risky business, but as long as you follow best practice, you’ll find that a Document Management System (DMS) actually reduces business risks. Physical documents are at risk of being stolen or damaged, so with a DMS, you can mirror your files on a backup server and create a number of backup databases in separate locations. This way, you’ll never lose your files, even when your main server goes down. DMS can often improve efficiency — especially as unclear, old systems are often more prone to document loss than new, modern systems. For many small business owners, the thought of implementing a whole new system can raise alarms bells of high cost and prolonged maintenance being required, however this is no longer the case – you can now benefit from subscription-based systems which keep the price down, and are significantly more affordable.

Mistake 2: Failing to recoup print costs

Many small businesses, even if they’re of a modest size, will be required to print large volumes of documents for client meetings, presentations, research etc. However, it’s surprising the number of organisations that don’t adequately track these costs when it comes to client re-charges, or alternatively use time-consuming ‘manual’ methods to do this. The key to effectively doing this is implementing print management software. Such solutions allow the volume of print jobs to be unobtrusively tracked across an entire office keeping costs consistent, as well as calculating a cost on the volume of print work per client, allowing for accurate recharging. This works by administrators setting “rules” for printing documents, for example, large documents can be automatically printed in duplex and printed web pages can be printed in mono, rather than in full colour.

Mistake 3: Not taking security seriously

As more small firms move to using modern, Multifunction Devices (MFDs) or Multifunctional Printers (MFPs), increasingly confidential business and client data is moving from the desktop to mobile devices and printers. Ignoring IT security can be a costly mistake as breaches of data protection legislation could lead to your business incurring large fines. Securing your print infrastructure is vital and often surprisingly straightforward. As many small businesses are now using cloud computing, outsourced IT support and shared resources, they often require a similar IT infrastructure to a larger businesses and this can leave them open to more risk. Using simple, cost effective security solutions, businesses can ensure they are complying with audit and privacy requirements, secure all confidential and business-critical data on devices and ensure only authorized individuals have access to that data.

Mistake 4. Not regularly reviewing the way you print

While talk of the paperless office has been around for years, in most businesses, this is unlikely to ever happen. However, there are still benefits to be made from an overall reduction in the volumes of print throughout an office. In fact, with the right solutions in place, firms can save up to 30% on paper costs and print/copy charges, with a similar reduction in man-hours possible. The challenge therefore is not to create the “paperless office”, but to create an office where paper and digital documents work together in an efficient, cost-effective way. There are a range of software solutions which help minimise print waste — many through the creation of a pull-print environment, meaning each print job has to be authorised at the device, reducing the potential for documents to be forgotten about and left on the printer. It’s also important for people at all levels in a firm to re-evaluate the way they use print, for example, asking themselves ‘ do I need to print or can I scan instead’ or alternatively, only printing documents when and where they are required. Solutions such as Airprint technology can help drive this flexibility, enabling staff to print directly to networked devices using tablets or smartphones, wherever they are.

Mistake 5: Lack of communication with staff

Despite the many and varied benefits of a new document infrastructure, one the biggest challenges can be bringing staff using the technology on board with a new way of working, and essentially changing their ‘print behaviour’.

Central to this is an understanding of the crucial role played by Multi-Functional-Devices (MFDs) as opposed to a traditional desktop printer. MFDs are increasingly taking a central role when it comes to print and document management within law firms, helping streamline costs and improve time efficiencies at all levels. However, persuading a long standing member of staff that they no longer have access to a desktop printer, or convincing them that that they have to re-learn a document management system can be a huge challenge, especially when the move is perceived as disruptive to the company status quo, or worse still, a ‘demotion’ in responsibility or privilege.

It is vital that you clearly, concisely and effectively communicate the bigger managed document services picture to your employees, whether it’s about saving money, improving efficiency and workflow, or operating in a greener capacity. Education from a technical perspective is also important. Many staff will be cynical about new technology, perceiving it simply as something else to learn in an already busy working week. However, with a dedicated training programme that focuses in particular on the positive results and benefits of the solution, this can be mitigated.