The right tools for the right job

May 11, 2009 at 6:45 pm (Helpfulness, How-To, Nudge)

The office intranet; Most technologically up to date companies have them,  if you have access to one, USE IT!!

Just this morning I found out I had administrator privileges on the company intranet page. By golly, I’m about to use this tool because in terms of resource saving and as a wonderful Nudge, this is great.

The concept of “choice architecture”, which is really what Nudge is all about, is about giving people only the set choices in a certain context that result in a desired outcome.  What is indeed manipulation, is also a positive way to increase positive results when implemented thoughtfully,  used responsibly, and presented respectfully to your co-workers.

In this case the nudge will be adding the content I need to proliferate to the intranet so that the likelihood my info/memo email will be reduced thus drawing upon less physical resources (paper, printer use, printer toner) because the information people would normally want to print out in my email will not exist in the email, but on-line. My emails from this point forward will reference a link and minimal text. Adding the additional step will hopefully reduce the number of pages printed because it’s so easy to print emails but not as easy to get the email, click the link, wait for IE to open the page, read the info, THEN print the information.

I have the great luxury of having the Director of IT’s support in my desire to go paper-less.  When I sent an email this morning asking if I was able to utilize the company intranet page I specified, I was delighted and surprised to see his response; Here’s the exchange, in case you’re wondering how to get this information and from whom:

Good morning Senor!  

Do you have any problem with me utilizing intranet space to put information I need to proliferate instead of me sending content/graphic heavy emails? Seems like it would resolve a lot if I just send text emails that reference a link, not to mention I am trying to go as paperless as possible. That said, it’ll reduce the number of times my info memo/email is printed if the bulk of the content does not reside in the email.
Thoughts? I wanted to come to you first before I took the idea and ran with it. 🙂

The Paperless (Executive) Assistant

——————————————————————————————-

Good morning!

Currently, you are an Administrator on that particular intranet site.  You are more than welcome to modify the website as you see fit. 

Thanks for the effort of obtaining paperless.  We should all be a lot more conscious.

 Director of IT Services

Great! I have buy-in for my cause as well as the tools to use it. I’m jazzed!

Excitedly yours,

The Paperless Assistant

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My Personal Paper Process

May 7, 2009 at 6:44 pm (How-To)

This is the process I use for anything paper that comes in that is my responsibility, in case anyone’s wondering. 🙂

paperlessprocess

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This is a rant.

May 4, 2009 at 12:31 am (Rant)

This is a rant.

I’m tired of businesses who are completely clueless.

I know, I know, I may have unrealistic expectations of people for expecting businesses to have already implemented “aggressive sustainability” practices in their processes but I’m tired of the same situation happening over, and over, and over:

Account Manager: “OK thank you for your payment. Would you like me to fax your invoice payment confirmation to you?”

Me: “Actually, is there anyway I could get you to email me as well as my future invoices? I’m paperless so I don’t really use the fax.”

Account Manager:“ummm, can I put you on hold for a second?”

Me: “Sure, take your time!”

~1-1.5min hold

Account Manager: “Hi thanks for holding. I can print out the invoices and confirmations, scan it then email them to you. What is your email address?”

Me: “Oh, ok. Well I would just like it to be mailed then please, if you’re going to just print it out.”

Honestly at that point I’d rather them spend the money to employ the USPS and mail the invoices and payment confirmations. Maybe it’ll put added financial weight on the company to mail envelopes that are becoming increasingly more expensive and it’ll become such a burden that they’ll be forced to evolve.

The next step of my process then is to have the receptionist scan the paper as soon as I receive it directly to a shared folder on a shared network drive. That’s way more effort than is necessary if businesses would just have a system that completely removes the elements of printing + scanning + postage + OUR cost of manpower to scan the document to serve their customers with.

You would think though that because of the cost saving advantages many businesses would be gung-ho for the idea but, to me, it seems like they’re in the dark ages. They could get positive PR and more business from people like me who choose which vendors service our office if they would email/e-blast (NOT MAIL) their customers this information.

Yet, they don’t adapt. I’m annoyed because I’m tired of asking though I know it’s the act of asking that is my contribution in addition to the actual act of going paper-less. It brings awareness to customers wanting this service, whatever their motives may be.

I personally can see some, albeit sparse, evidence of this “recession” being good for businesses. It’ll strengthen those who have their stuff together. I, personally, want to deal with companies who have altruistic mentalities engrained in their business models.  I’m anxious for where you have to opt-in to get paper anything from businesses. 🙂

Patiently, anxiously yours,

The Paperless Assistant

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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!

 

Signed,

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’t.help.it. 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”. 

NEVER EVER, EVER CRITICIZE SOMEONE’S USE OF PAPER UNLESS YOU ARE VERY CLOSE WITH THEM AND CAN DRAW ATTENTION TO IT THROUGH FRIENDLY HUMOR…

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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