Moving to a paperless office may seem like a pipe dream to attorneys and HR professionals who have worked in the immigration field for years. You know everything runs on forms, and while many governments have shifted toward electronic immigration processes, the court systems generally still require paper pleadings.
It’s true: Firms and HR departments are unlikely to purge their offices of every shred of paper. However, they can drastically reduce how many trees they’re using. There’s no need to laugh at all of the “How to go paperless” articles floating around the Internet. Some of them have great advice.
In fact, follow these steps to reach your goal of being a paperless office:
Invest in equipment and software
The partners and executives may not be happy to hear it, but the best paperless plans start with cloud-based case management software and buying each paralegal or staff member an easy-to-use scanner. It’s impossible to go paperless without the cloud, therefore offices need to work with a vendor who will provide a strong immigration-focused CMS.
“The best paperless plans start with cloud-based CMS.”
Additionally, the one or two scanners attached to the copiers currently in the office won’t be enough to transfer old and new paper documents into the cloud. Just imagine paralegals waiting in line to scan client documents and immigration forms – it would be a mess. If purchasing everyone a scanner is too big of an upfront expense, start by providing scanners to the people who will handle incoming documents.
Create a written paperless plan
Shifting the culture of the office to one focused on reducing paper usage takes rewriting internal processes. Incoming documents that used to go to paper files now need to be scanned right away and either recycled or properly stored.
Offices moving to paperless methods often have hoards of open and closed files taking up space. These will need to be scanned, and you should propose a timeline for how and when this task will be completed. For example, each paralegal or file clerk could be assigned a portion of the alphabet and be given a deadline for when these documents need to be entered into the cloud.
Before announcing to staff the office will go paperless, make sure you’ve completed the paperless plan and can train everyone on it. In order to truly reduce paper waste, everyone in the office needs to be on the same page with how their work will change. A goal is merely hope if there isn’t a defined plan.Going paperless is possible if offices attack their goal with a defined plan.Going paperless is possible if offices attack their goal with a defined plan.
Bring on temporary staff if necessary
Scanning old and ongoing files to the cloud can be quite an undertaking. To quicken the pace of transferring paper to your cloud-based CMS, consider hiring temporary workers. This will also allow your current staff to stay on top of their normal work without being distracted by additional scanning and data entry responsibilities.
Reducing paper waste in law offices and HR departments isn’t a pipe dream. It can and it has been done. Immigration professionals merely need to make use of their cloud-based CMS instead of relying on antiquated paper files.