This article was published on December 8, 2015

Your business’ biggest bottleneck: Digital notes and paper forms

Your business’ biggest bottleneck: Digital notes and paper forms
Ritika Puri
Story by

Ritika Puri

Ritika Puri is a San Francisco based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She's inspired by the int Ritika Puri is a San Francisco based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She's inspired by the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and sociology.

Going about your work, projects and team – there are a lot of moving parts. Many complexities are difficult to communicate via Google Docs, spreadsheets and email, so teams are turning to old school pen and paper or relying on simple note taking applications.

Despite being 2015, software is still difficult and expensive to build for all your use cases. Teams are still sharing information through binders and paper forms, and turning to digital notes hasn’t helped as much as we would hope. Meanwhile, your smartest engineers are scratching their heads, wondering if there’s a better way to collaborate.

The short answer is yes: there are collaboration tools that cater to the exact use case that you’re experiencing. More importantly, you don’t need to use legacy systems or build expensive homegrown software, either. Here are some tips to finally work smarter:

Focus on creating templates

Do you find yourself communicating the same types of information over and over? This painpoint is exactly why forms came to be. Rather than creating a new document or note from scratch, instead create a living, breathing and evolving template.

Transpose, a project management platform and cross-functional workspace, simplifies this process with a built-in template creator that your team can use to manage contacts, orders, tickets, assets, employee records and even content. Team members can clone ready-made templates created by other users in the system.

With drag and drop capabilities, and more than 30 different field types, you can create your very own form in a matter of minutes.

Create a collaborative workflow

Traditional paper forms and online notes alone can be self-fulfilling bottlenecks. Just think about the last one you completed: most likely, you needed to seek information, signatures and resources from various people on your team.

There are several workflow improvements you can make to streamline this process. For one, make sure that your solution is mobile-optimized and accessible by multiple parties. Next, make sure that it’s possible to work in real-time. Finally, make it possible to complete all parts in your workflow digitally: from signatures to diagramming, never having to print anything.

Beyond simple keyword searches

To finish projects in a timely fashion, you need instant access to key pieces of information.

One of the biggest bottlenecks your team faces is resource accessibility. It’s easy to get stuck in a waiting game, as you wait for someone to send over a file. And if you’re dealing with paper, potential sources of friction are even higher than with digital – you need to wait for someone to compile a document, scan it and email it over.

Rather than dealing with disparate bits and pieces of information, ensure that all necessary records are searchable by your information details, beyond just keywords, but fields depending on type. Project name, date ranges, location zone and status search capabilities ensures stakeholders can find the information that they need in a pinch.

Prioritize security and stability

The beauty of pen and paper files is that they’re super-tough to steal. You can lock them in a file cabinet, in a safe, in a building with an alarm system and with an armed guard outside. When it comes to digital, your risks and vulnerabilities are much higher.

When choosing an online file cabinet or form creator, you need to make sure that your information is safe from a potential breach; implementing a system with the necessary compliance and encryption standards that your company needs.

Not to mention, you should always have a backup plan. The Paperless Project estimates that “more than 70 percent of today’s businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper-based records due to fire or flood.”

Moving your forms and notes online ensures that you don’t become another statistic.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still using paper or digital notes to collaborate with your team, rest assured that there are greener pastures. Improve your workflows by choosing the right workflows that support rather than hinder collaboration. A bottleneck-free world is out there, and it’s better, digital and highly customizable. And you don’t need to build it yourself.

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