Not too long ago, I instituted a paperless policy for my office – I have another hat I wear as a start-up and company consultant – where, as far as possible, I’d force my clients to go paperless as well.
There is no reason to get something printed out on paper when the electronic version was and is the original document of authority. For example, an ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) confirmation on a successful registration of a company is sent via email, and there is absolutely no need to print it out to make it any more successful.
Yet, every single audit firm (and their staff) that I know insist on photocopying or printing these things, because they need to verify the document’s authenticity and originality. This is what I will never understand. But since they’re doing a job for clients of mine (and they’re paid by my clients), I can’t do much except charge them 10 cents for every page printed.
Then there was this client who insisted on having paper invoices sent to him even though he had computers and a working email account, because he claimed that IRAS, ACRA and his auditors required him to collect and keep original paper invoices.
So I told him that IRAS and ACRA had no such rule, and “keeping of accurate records” did not mean that they had to be paper records. He disagreed, and terminated our services for another provider who happily gave him as much paper as he liked.
There are so many tools available to SMEs to keep everything accurately and safely stored in the cloud that there really is no excuse these days to keep files and reams of paper in the office. With this year’s introduction of FAST internet bank transfers, posting a cheque to pay for a bill is becoming a mere excuse to pay that bill late(r).
Detractors point to the dangers of online fraud as a reason not to adopt electronic transfers, even if it’s clear that it’s easier to forge a cheque than to escape the various electronic trails that precede and follow an internet banking transaction.
So, I actually made this “Paperless Pledge” a year ago, and despite getting fired by one client, I’m determined to keep this policy intact. I’m glad to even report that I’m looking for ways to terminate my hire-purchase of my office multifunction printer because we now use it so infrequently.
If you’ve got a similar pledge to mine, let me know, and together we can help plant trees instead of killing them. This is just a small choice to make – whether you print something out or not – but it can make a world of difference.
Make a wish and take the Pledge for Change with me and Kleenex Singapore – You can submit your pledges on Kleenex Singapore’s Facebook Pledge App (https://www.facebook.com/kleenexsg/app_283737521804501). For every 20 wishes placed on the Kleenex Wishing Tree, a real tree will be planted.