Managing your information in a Paperless world

So you have decided that you have had enough and now you want to go paperless.  Seems to make sense, most of your bank statements, bills, and receipts come online anyway.  Why print them?

Sounds simple enough but like anything, you need a way to organize your documents.  There are many software packages that do just this, two that come to mind are Paperport and Neat, but there are many more available.  Often if you have a scanner the software comes along with it so you don’t even have to buy separate software.  You can also just use file directories on your computer, it doesn’t really matter the important thing is to be organized.

For years I have been giving my clients a system to manage their paper documents.  Recently, I am getting more and more requests about how to manage the information in an electronic or digital setting.  I have come up with a process, it is pretty simple sort of a ‘virtualization’ of the paper folders.

Here’s what I recommend:

Create a file directory(folder) called “Business Info”  <– if you have more than one company, call this the company name.

Under that folder create a folder called “2014” <– or what ever the year is

Under each year create folders for the various categories:

  • Bank Statements
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Computer and Equipment
  • Advertising Expense
  • CRA documentation
  • Office Expenses

And so on..  If you are not sure, just look at your last years financial statements or ask your accountant for what expense categories apply to your business.

Anything that goes more than one year, put directly under the ‘Business Info’ folder.

Call it “Permanent Documents”.  Things like leases, contracts, incorporation information etc.

Each year just start over again with a new year and create subfolders (directories) for each of the categories that you used in the previous year.

This is easy to manage, easy to back up and very easy to replicate if you have more than one company.  Whether you are just using the file manager of your computer system or a file management system in a document management system, this is an easy way to store and later be able to retrieve your documents.

And please don’t forget to back up your data!!

Once your data is all in ‘electronic’ format, it is very easy to copy to a USB drive or send to your accountant via something like ‘e-courier’.  No paper to lose and your accountant will thank you!  At least I will 🙂

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