The average U.S. office worker uses some 10,000 sheets of copy paper annually, according to a widely reported Environmental Protection Agency estimate. Those 20 reams of pulp per employee represent a lot of potentially unnecessary waste and business expense (about $85 per person, on average, excluding other copying costs, such as ink and toner). Another drawback: Printed documents stored on-site are typically unavailable to staffers when they aren’t at work.
Thinking of going paperless in 2013? Here are five apps and services that may help you reach your goal.
Dropbox (free and paid subscriptions; Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Kindle Fire) — Dropbox lets you store up to 18GB of data free of charge when you refer other users, such as your employees. If you need more space, you can upgrade to a paid plan. Once you’ve signed up for the service and installed the software, you can access your Dropbox account just as you would other file folders on your desktop. Dropbox also offers a free smartphone app that gives you easy access to stored data from a mobile device.
Genius Scan (Free to $2.99; Android, iOS, Windows Phone) — Digital files may be easily moved to services like Dropbox, but what about paper documents? This is where Genius Scan can help: The app allows you to scan documents or images with a mobile device, crop and straighten the scan, organize files by assigning tags, and store them on your device, email, or share with your computer through its WiFi sharing feature. Upgrade to Genius Scan+ for sharing with cloud-based services like Dropbox and Google Drive.
QuickBooks Online (free trial, then $12.95 per month and up; Android, iOS) — Still printing and sending invoices? The popular accounting app, QuickBooks Online, allows you to create and send client invoices via email. You also can view and email financial reports, reconcile your books from automatically downloaded transactions, and handle employee payroll. Through third-party apps, you can expand QuickBooks’ functionality, allowing it to integrate with other popular business apps like Salesforce.
ServicePal (free trial, then $39 and up per user per month; web-based and iPad) — If your business deals with work orders, service calls, or similar services, ServicePal could eliminate a lot of your paperwork. Designed to be a mobile service for in-field technicians, the platform allows you to create and schedule service calls, monitor jobs, collaborate with workers in real time, track the amount of time they were at a site, analyze trends, and keep detailed customer notes, including job history.
Findmyshift (free trial, then $30 per month; web-based) — Managing employee schedules can be a labor- and paper-intensive task. You may print schedules for employees and request hard-copy vacation requests, time cards, and more. Findmyshift can handle all of these tasks through through email, text messages, and an employee web portal. Further, it allows workers to view their schedules, ask for time off, and download their work calendar to their smartphone. The monthly fee includes support for an unlimited amount of employees, and the more months you purchase, the lower your rate.