Going paperless

Jul 11, 2013 | Business

Last week, I got asked by a countertop fabricator how to go paperless.

We’ve seen some of our customers do it successfully. And, when I started thinking about it, I realized that we’re paperless, too.

Based on our experience and what I’ve heard from other fabricators, here are a few ideas on managing the transition from paperwork and file folders.

A bumpy road to paperless

If you’re new to the concept, going totally “paperless” is tricky.

The first step is to make sure that everyone is relying on the electronic stuff (calendar, job details, etc.) first. If they only consult the computer 2nd, try to find out why. Usually it will take some time to change people’s habits. Sometimes you’ll need to help them set up views or forms to match the paper they use to do their job every day.

The right tools for the job

Next, you’ll need to give folks the tools to access everything electronically – in the office, that means having computers (and if you don’t already have 2 monitors for your computer, that’s a great way to get more productive).

But for the employees who travel, you might need to buy laptops or tablets so they can get to job information they need without paper.

Laying down the law

If you’ve done those two things & you’re still running into resistance from employees, you may need to lay down the law.

I’ve seen a few cases of companies tying this to compensation (for example if you’re a salesperson, “if your job isn’t in JobTracker, you don’t get paid commission). Especially at the beginning, you’ll be selling the individual benefits (you’ll spend less time looking for paperwork) and the overall company benefit (our customers will be happier because we’ll be more on the ball)

In bigger companies, I’ve seen that they assign someone to be the “Moraware Enforcer”. I think this is a good idea for everyone – you don’t need to dedicate a whole person all of the time.

But, having someone who’s responsible for checking periodically to make sure that the jobs are being entered correctly is very useful. When you and your employees get busy, it’s easy to forget that putting job details in one place benefits the whole company.

How we do it

At Moraware, we’ve been “paperless” since the beginning, because we’re not all in the same office. The only way we can communicate about our customers is through software. Here’s some of the tools we use to do it.

  • JobTracker for scheduling and tracking our sales and support conversations.
  • HipChat for private one-on-one and group instant messages.
  • GoToMeeting for screen sharing and occasional conference calls.
  • Home-grown internal tools for managing licenses, databases, billing.
  • QuickBooks for accounting.
  • Confluence wiki for customer help & internal documentation.
  • VirtualPBX phone system to route calls.
  • Password Safe to securely store and manage passwords
  • FogBugz to track bugs and feature requests.
  • Trello to manage our development tasks.

I didn’t even mention email and frequent phone calls, and I’m sure I forgot some of the other tools we use. There’s not just one place we communicate and store information, and that’s okay. Each system we have is there for a specific reason, and helps us get our work done more effectively.

Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.