The bane of the Paperless world

April 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm (How-To, Rant)

 Here’s the thing: If you want to be truly paperless, you have to first and foremost be truly vocal about it. Even then, it’s nearly impossible to be completely paperless for at least one reason: Vendors with no paperless option.


One question I find myself asking over, and over, and over is “Hi this is {d.birdy} calling from Company of my Employment, I was calling because I have been receiving your invoices by mail and was wondering if you have any sort of paperless or email invoicing option?” The second thing I always say right after that: “I’m trying to go paperless and I’ve been able to get my invoices emailed from most of the places I interact with so was hoping you would have the same service.”


The second statement has been the most effective nudge for me because it not only alerts the vendor that other vendors are offering this option to their clients (so logically, to stay competitive so ought they) but it also reinforces their knowledge of my desire to have paperless options. Every time I receive an invoice, I call and ask for paperless options. Sure, it might be a pain in the neck for everyone involved that I’m being annoying persistent but there’s some saying about the squeaky wheel getting the most grease that I’m sure is fitting here.


Moral of the story: the worst thing they can say is no. If people are vocal and keep asking everyone benefits so, keep it up!


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Staples Invoicing Rant

April 18, 2009 at 10:55 am (Rant)

Dear Staples,


Your monthly Invoice Detail process is downright ridiculous. You sent me ELEVEN pieces of paper, many of which had only one item number on them just to tell me that, on single sided printed paper, you owe us $16.74. I pretty much am never going to order again from you other than to use up the $16.74 in credit we now have. Your invoicing process is not only  an environmental hazard and eco-irresponsible, it is a sham that seems purposefully put together for a lot of “accidental” double payment for products.


The left hand also does not know what the right hand is doing… You report I have past due invoices when I have documentation showing otherwise from when I spoke in-person to a credit dept. representative THREE times about this same issue on this same invoice number. Maybe when you get your junk together I’ll come back but until then, GOOD RIDDANCE!



The Paperless Assistant

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Spotlight on FedEx Billing Online Plus

April 13, 2009 at 11:07 pm (Uncategorized)

FedEx has a pretty neat feature I’ve been using a lot online lately:


Billing Online Plus


For paperless functions, this is a great service. It shows your shipments by tracking number, you can save your invoice as a pdf to your desktop or shared server space (I personally send mine to our corp. accountant after approval for payment). All of this reducing the need for paper. 


My current favorite feature is the ability to create and save electronically reports within the system. I’ve found that this paired with the paperless option to dispute invoices online has saved me tons of time.


I definitely recommend the service, though I’ve only been using it for about a month, I’m hooked!

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Some tips on getting folks to “buy in”…

April 8, 2009 at 4:31 am (How-To)

The most important factor of being successful when trying to go paperless (i say that loosely because in the real work environment “going paperless” often means “going less paper”) is participation.

What to do though when people don’t “buy in”?

1) Show them the numbers – Often times a reduction in small amounts of 2-5% can make a SUBSTANTIAL difference in office paper supply costs. Being discreet but transparent into how much exactly excessive printing and use of paper is costing the office will get great buy-in. Simple “Did You Know…” office emails on a semi-regular basis are a great way to introduce employees to something they can read on work time, so make it worthwhile to read while still giving them interesting facts that will help your cause.

2) Be persistent – If you have a goal in your office, there are ways to mention and re-mention things to people in the office who are, to put it nicely, suffering from a wicked paper addiction. Some people just.can’ If you give them a sense of ownership in the project, you’ll get way more “buy in” because usually it’s a small percentage ruining it for everyone. Reforming the worst offenders will create great examples for later data collection to show how reducing paper usage has improved a certain process or procedure.

One method I used was to say “Hey so word on the street is that you’re the person in this group/dept that really knows the procedures for xyz really well. From what I understand is that the procedures now require a lot of extra work for your group and I think together we can figure out together what the best way to make the least amount of work is…” then come prepared to educate them on things like printing directly to your desktop or directly onto a shared intranet drive.

3) Educate your office on the first financial, second environmental benefits of reducing paper usage. Regardless of your motivation, posing this as a fiscal matter first with residual positive environmental effect people are more likely to listen, especially when times are tough in a company because it really IS coming down to it at some companies where it’s either you or the supplies and the office needs paper so… lets everyone just try and reduce our paper usage, shall we?? 

4) Be positive about it and draw swift attention to people doing the right thing around the office. The only problem with this is that unless you have software that monitors what is being printed out by user and maintain the log of what is relevant and what is not, truly knowing who is printing less is going to be a tough thing to spot. That said, ANY small victory you’re able to propel to everyone’s attention is VITAL for “buy in”. 


And if you’re really, REALLY serious about it and have the wherewithal and gall to do it:

5)  Introduce yourself to Lean Office Basics and RUN with it. There is a LOT of money to be saved. There are ways to Nudge people to save money via Lean & Office Kaizen. If done tactfully and you’re committed,  you’ll come out with a new way of thinking and a happy, efficient office to boot.

Good luck!!!

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Top 10 Steps to Kicking Your Paper Addiction for Good

April 2, 2009 at 6:14 pm (How-To) (, , , , )

It is true— sometimes you just can’t avoid using using paper. But can you imagine if there were instances that powers beyond your control MADE you use paper??? I can and have had those instances. What’s an Office Manager or Assistant to do?!?

 So without further ado here are my Top 10 Steps to Kicking Your Paper Addiction for Good:

1. MAKE A DATE and stick to it.

2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PLENTY OF LIKEMINDED PEOPLE – Stay calm, you’re not alone. Come to the realization now that you’re not going to be popular for going paperless but rest assured you can sleep at night because you know you’re not contributing to the wastefulness of natural resources in the business place as best you can. There are others. LOTS of others. Find them and make friends.

3. GET MORE ACTIVE – Tell people you’re going paperless so that you’re held accountable. It’s easy to just quickly print something out when you know no one will notice. Talk about it to everyone and talk about it often.

4. THINK POSITIVE – Withdrawal can be unpleasant, bit it is a sign your mind is recovering from the dizzying effects of paper use. Irritability, frustration, urges to use paper because it’s “easier” and lack of remembering the common good are not uncommon – don’t worry, they usually disappear after a few weeks.

5. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE – Try to avoid the copy room you usually pick up printed pages in. Try doing something totally different, like educate someone about the benefits of paperless work processes. Surprise yourself!

6. NO EXCUSES – Don’t use a crisis or even good news to be an excuse for “just one print out” there is no such thing – you will soon want the next and the next….

7. TREAT YOURSELF – This is important. If you can, use the money you are saving by not printing to buy your office something special – big or small – that you usually would not have, like a catered lunch.

8. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU EAT – Try not to snack on magazines to get your paper fix. If you do need to snack, try RSS, buying a Kindle  or sit down to read a good blog.

9. TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME – each day without a print job is good news for your paperless health, your office and our Earth.

10. PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK SOMETIMES – Going paperless is a tough challenge. Keep a positive mental attitude and give yourself props sometimes! You’re doing a great thing! If you can do this, imagine the possibilities. 🙂


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