Going paperless, one app at a time.

image: Swissmiss

A short time ago, Oscar Berg questioned the status of the paperless office on Twitter.

This is something that has been discussed for a long time, and I began to give the issue some thought. It seemed to me that this was both and individual and group issue. I believe that if people can reduce paper dependence on a individual level then it will be much easier for organisations to introduce tools and processes to do this on a larger scale.

Basically I think it boils down to this,  individual must see the value for themselves first on a personal level before this can extend to the organisation.

So with that in mind I decided to improve my own situation and go as paperless as possible. The prerequisite was a smart phone with internet connection (in my case and iphone) and a computer. Note: an implied goal here was to NOT purchase new hardware or gadgets - simplify. 1. Dropbox - like many other people I have discovered the incredible value of having all my files stored in the cloud. A great user experience both on the desktop and mobile app plus a flawless integration into Finder in Mac OS, make this a treat to use. At the moment I am using the free version, but for 10$/month this would be a small price to pay.

2. Google Apps /Docs - I use the Google Apps under my own domain, but this is also a huge time and paper saver for me. All apps - mail and calender - are accessed via my iphone.

3. Evernote - I use Evernote for a quick 'dumping ground' for all sorts of content, web pages, images, graphic bits, blog posts...everything. Combined with the powerful iphone app, this is a large paper and time saver.

4. JotNot Scanner Pro - I just recently starting using this and so far like it allot. This solved the scanner issue, for receipts and other bits of paper I get. It saves them in PDF format for easy storage in any of these other services mentioned.

5. Adobe Ideas - I think the challenge for people that work visually is not making drawings on paper from the beginning. This has been hard for me as I tend to think in images and drawing has always com naturally to me. (I am huge notebook and pen geek). I have tried this app for the iphone and really like it allot. The only limitation is the combination of the  small screen and my thick finger.

6. Flickr - Basically this is my image repository. Photographs, drawings you name it I try to store here. I gladly pay the Flickr pro fee for unlimited uploads for this service.

Some tools I have left out purposely is group collaboration. This is mostly since I dont really use this on a personal level so much. If I needed to I would without a doubt choose Basecamp or Huddle for such a task. Both are very powerful and eay to use.

So where does this leave the organisation ?

Well, in my experience with a few organisation in Sweden: very far away. Some of these functions exist but nowhere near the simplicity, user friendly and power of these low cost (or free) personal web solution.

My advice to organisations: look at how people actually work (not how you think people work) and consider some of these services described above. Introduce functions that create value simply for the individual, and the rest will take care of itself.

What services do you all use to go paperless ?