How a Paperless Office Will Change Your Business (for the better!)

A Paperless World

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the world was slowly moving toward digital instead of paper files, reports, and folders. With the advent of COVID and the huge rise in remote work, businesses can no longer rely on paper anymore.

At first, you might be resistant to going paperless, but in fact, moving to a paperless office can save you time and money.

Instead of spending thousands on paper and office supplies a year (not to mention the cost of offices themselves), businesses are turning to online cloud storage and sharing solutions. These tools allow users to store and share their files digitally, while also providing options for security, branding, customization, and compliance options (which can help companies avoid costly fines and even lawsuits from non-compliance with common regulations like HIPAA, ITAR, or GDPR).

Content Life Cycles

Many large companies and enterprises use content life cycles to ensure they have a process for dealing with paper in their offices. However, as offices turn increasingly digital, these processes have had to become digital too. But first, let’s go over a basic content life cycle.

  1. Capture

Employee receives files or collects/gathers incoming paper and scans them into the system.

  1. Add to Content Repository

Employee stores content in a specific, pre-designated spot (folders on a computer, a company drive, an online cloud storage solution).

  1. Collaboration/Processing

This step might take the longest time, as the content is being collaborated on by team members; for example, a PR release is reviewed, edited, and then officially released.

  1. Archival/Long-Term Storage

Once a document has been finalized and its purpose completed, that document or file is usually stored somewhere, either archived in your system or placed in long-term storage (physical or digital).

This process might seem fairly simple, but in fact, it becomes more complicated when you begin to think of data governance goals and regulatory requirements. For example, if the documents you’re dealing with are medically related, you might have to keep them for up to 6 years for HIPAA or face steep fines—not to mention the loss of trust between your company and clients.

Additionally, you can’t claim you didn’t know or that compliance was too complicated. If you’re working with any type of personal data that falls under data regulations (and almost all companies are!) then you must have some type of content life cycle in place that takes into account data governance.

That’s where FileCloud comes into play.

How FileCloud Makes Content Life Cycles Easy

FileCloud is a cloud sharing and storage system that makes going paperless easier than ever. With unlimited storage, easy and secure share links, hyper-security, and the Compliance Center, FileCloud eliminates the need for paper, office supplies, and in-person storage.

FileCloud can be used as an on-premises system (behind your firewalls and stored on your servers) or entirely online (hosted on your behalf behind our firewalls and servers).

FileCloud has many amazing benefits including 256-bit AES SSL encryption for data in transit, advanced digital rights management (you decide who has access to what files and folders, with options to revoke access at any time), integrations with your favorite apps (like Microsoft Teams, Office365, Google Docs, and more) and a compliance center that connects complicated regulatory requirements with FileCloud’s security settings and policies.

FileCloud has many tools put into place that help make content life cycles easy to manage.

As shown in the graphic above, FileCloud makes it easy with 7 simple steps.

Step 1: Content is Added/Updated

Just as it sounds, this is where you add/update files/data in FileCloud.

Step 2: Smart Classification

FileCloud’s Content Classification Engine is a rule-driven content classification system that allows you to label files and metadata generically. When your files are uploaded, they will be automatically classified according to their content, which helps ensure data is immediately protected upon entering FileCloud’s hyper-secure system.

 Step 3: Apply Metadata

FileCloud has built-in metadata sets including image metadata, document lifecycle metadata, color metadata, and many more (along with totally customizable metadata sets) that you can use to provide extra info about files and folders, which can be especially helpful when trying to find files and folders or apply a broad rule across specific file types (for example, you could find all metadata with a color tag easily).

 Step 4: Apply Retention Rules

FileCloud’s already-created retention rules help ensure your files stay/are moved where they need to be. These rules often relate to legal requirements or data protection regulations. FileCloud has five already-created rules to help make sure your files are under the right umbrella. These include:

  • Admin Hold: Outranks all other policies and prevents any update or delete of digital content for an indefinite period of time.
  • Legal Hold: Freezes digital content to aid discovery or legal challenges. During a legal hold, file modifications are not allowed.
  • Retention: Identifies digital content to be kept around for an unlimited amount of time before being deleted or released.
  • Archival: Moves and stores old organizational content for the long term. No Deletion is allowed until a specified time period is reached. After this time, content gets moved to a specific folder.
  • Trash Retention: Can be configured for automatic and permanent deletion of all files in the Trash bins or to expire with no actions.

Retention policies are attached to files and folders and allow you to define the conditions under which a file/folder is changed/modified/moved. This allows admins to easily and quickly confirm data under their control won’t be altered or moved.

 Step 5: Apply DLP Rules

FileCloud’s Smart DLP allows admins to monitor malicious or neglectful activity, helping prevent data leaks and losses. DLP allows admins to closely control who can access/change what file and when. Admins can create their own DLP rules using IF/THEN statements and the rule expression builder, which, when applied, can prevent data leaks.

 Step 6: Archival/Expiration

After a document has ended its usefulness, it can be archived automatically using the retention policies mentioned above. Additionally, since FileCloud is a file-sharing tool as well, shares can have set expiration dates where the user is no longer able to access that data anymore. This helps prevent unauthorized user access.

 Step 7: Monitor for Changes

Once the six steps above are complete, admins and users might forget about a certain file or document, but FileCloud won’t. We constantly monitor files for any changes, block unauthorized actions, and notify admins if any rules are broken or files are changed/removed without permission.

These tools help make a paperless office feel possible, and with workflow automation, it’s not only possible but easy.

Using Workflow Automation to Speed up Content Lifecycles

Some cloud storage and sharing systems like FileCloud even have business workflow automation built into their system, allowing workflows for content lifecycle management and other document management to be created quickly and easily.

What is Business Workflow Automation?

Business Workflow Automation might sound complicated, but in fact, you’re already halfway there, as every business has workflows in place. A workflow is nothing more than a process for doing a task that has specific steps involved. Those steps might be as simple as employee time-off requests that look something like this:

Employee time off request –> manager reviews request/schedule –> manager does/does not approve time off.

Other common business workflows include budget approvals, document review, employee onboarding, and expense report approvals.

Of course, even the simplest of these workflows take employee time and effort to complete. Which is where workflow automation comes into play.

Why Should I Use Workflow Automation?

Workflow automation is simply a way of automating these time-consuming and repetitive workflows so they no longer have to be completed by employees. Instead, they are completed automatically. Workflow automation has many benefits, but the top ones are that it:

Saves Time:

Employees no longer have to spend time on these administrative tasks. Instead, employees, managers, and teams can automate these tasks by creating a workflow that takes care of these repetitive tasks.

A simple example of this is an employee from finance creating an automated workflow that sends out an email asking for expense reports at the end of the month so that they no longer have to type it up/send it out each month.

Saves Money:

Workflow automation saves businesses money by allowing employees to focus on more important tasks that help a business’s bottom line, instead of spending hours each day on tedious but necessary admin tasks.

Reduces Employee Errors:

A recent report showed that it’s easy for employees to get lost in the weeds when searching for documents and files. The report also showed that there are 236 lost hours per year on duplicated work! Workflow automation helps ensure that these hours aren’t lost anymore with tasks automatically completed without employees needing to touch them.

Additionally, workflow automation ensures that tasks like client intake forms, email responses, and document reviews get completed, which helps teams stay on task and complete projects.

FileCloud’s Business Workflow Automation

FileCloud’s workflow automation takes place within FileCloud’s hyper-secure system. Users can quickly create workflows with a no-code, drag-and-drop design. Workflows have a built-in logic that makes them easy to create and use.

Workflows can be shared with team members and across departments with just a click of a button.

All running workflows can be seen in a dashboard for oversight purposes and can be downloaded in a CSV file for audits or reports as needed.

Within minutes, employees and managers can create automated business workflows for a variety of tasks including:

  • Budget approval
  • File review
  • Client intake
  • Employee on/offboarding
  • Automatic emails
  • Signoffs

Use FileCloud to Get Ahead of the Competition

FileCloud is a hyper-secure file sharing and storage system that makes going paperless easy with its content life cycle and workflow automation. Save time and money and get ahead of your competition by starting a free trial today!

~By Megan Barnard, Digital Content Specialist at FileCloud