The age of the paperless office is well and truly upon us. One need only pay a visit to a shared workspace like WeWork or The Office Group in London, to witness the army of entrepreneurs and small businesses busily working from hot desks. Their offices simply consisting of; a tablet, a Smartphone, a MacBook Air, white ear phones, and an array of chargers.
For these tech entrepreneurs, their offices are virtual, and provided they can access the Internet they can operate from pretty much anywhere. Amongst the key enablers is the growing ubiquity of Software as a Service (SaaS) or cloud based solutions, that facilitate access to data stored remotely freeing the user from the need to work in one physical location. The days of desktops overflowing with icons, files and folders are also well gone, with many screens reduced to 4 colourful icons representing; Dropbox, Firefox, Skype and Spotify. These 4 links with the world are all that is needed to operate effectively.
Google is often a first port of call for many of these same users, as many use the Google suite to manage mail, calendaring and to share documents. However, while we are all familiar with the flexibility the Google application brings, there are a number of other less well known solutions that are increasing in popularity. These tools are very different in terms of how they help businesses, but share common traits, as they all benefit their users by enhancing productivity and efficiency via SaaS based solutions.
What are these tools and how can they help your business?
1/ Klipboard – Organize Field Employees & Eradicate Paper
Klipboard is a mobile field service platform for the management of field based employees, and the capture of data from a tablet. It is suitable for undertaking assessments, maintenance records, inspections, surveys or just about any process you can imagine. Gone are the days of relying on paper based methods, instead, Klipboard simplifies data collection, task scheduling, location mapping and messaging. The easy to use, consumer style app, enables employees to capture text, images, signatures or view documents, plus more – even when offline. No more printing, filing or lost paper forms!
2/ Docusign – Send, Sign and Approve Documents
Docusign enables parties to electronically sign documents replacing the need to print out documents, to sign them and then to either scan, fax or post them. Again the solution is a simple one, however the benefits are significant in terms of efficiency and productivity gains especially for those who need to obtain lots of signed documents.
3/ eFax – Easy Faxing Anywhere
For most of us the days of waiting impatiently by fax machines are well and truly behind us. However, there are numerous professions (including the legal one) where faxes are still used on a daily basis. While this will undoubtedly change in the years to come, faxes remain an important communication tool for certain documents. What has changed however, is the reliance on physical fax machines has evaporated, and efaxes are widely used as viable alternatives where the fax is transmitted directly to your phone or computer.
4/ Scanner Pro – A Scanner in Your Pocket
Scanner Pro allows you to turn your iPhone or iPad into a portable scanner. The simple app enables you to capture an image which is converted to a PDF, which can then be emailed, printed, uploaded or faxed from the app. The use cases are varied, and with its extremely competitive pricing it serves to yet again replace scanners, a hardware device that was commonplace in most offices up until fairly recently.
5/ Xpenditure – Claim Back Your Time
Xpenditure is a leading expense management solution that works on a very simple premise. Employees simply take a photo of their receipt (using the app), submit it, and the software does the rest. It reads the key data including; the date, merchant, currency, amount and spend category. The net result is that the finance team have real time access to expenses, enabling them to have full visibility on company expenses, while also enabling them to review, to process and to reimburse employees in real time. The entire process is transformed, and the days of multiple steps, involving a range of different parties, and envelopes stuffed with receipts are consigned to history. (Disclosure: the author works with Xpenditure)
In summary, a number of factors have combined to enable employees to work efficiently while on the road. Hardware has become more powerful, with increased battery life and lighter models (especially for laptops) enabling workers to be truly mobile. Wifi has also become much more ubiquitous, enabling employees to connect to applications more easily (alternatively they can tether from their mobile devices).
Business software has also matured, and a whole range of applications have been created which replace older more paper based processes. What is most attractive about these developments, is that for the most part the cost of these applications is much more competitive than existing solutions without even factoring in the significant efficiency gains, improved security and reduction in errors that these solutions bring.
This article originally appeared here