Accounting firm declares war on paper

Date: 30th January 2012

Driving an army tank over the office filing cabinet seems a dramatic way of introducing a paper-free environment at work, but a Blenheim accounting firm has done just that.

Three years ago, the accumulation of boxes and filing cabinets filling the offices of TVA Lock chartered accountants on Scott St prompted directors to consider how they could become more user- friendly and efficient.

They have converted to a paperless office system, and the bulky filing cabinets are gradually being phased out.

Then when director Peter Tolan received a voucher from his wife for his 50th birthday from Tanks for Everything in Christchurch, he immediately thought of the satisfaction of crushing the ungainly cabinets and their old system along with it, under the tracks of a 52-tonne battle tank.

So that is exactly what he did.

Director Brian Creedy said the idea to go paperless was part of a larger scheme to maximise efficiency using innovative technology and speed up the turn-around time for their customers.

“We had 16 four-drawer filing cabinets, with boxes of files underfoot and shelves of paperwork, our office was very cluttered and untidy and it was getting harder and harder to keep track of everything,” he said.

Now all records are stored in a server and backed up every day, a much cheaper alternative to the firm’s former off-site storage unit. Paper use has been slashed by about 70 per cent, Mr Creedy said.

“If we needed any records beyond last years’ we used to phone someone to dig out the file at `the bunker’ and get them to bring it up to us.

“Storage space on a server is a lot cheaper than off-site, plus it saves time and staff. When a client rings up with a query, I’ve got all their records right there in front of me.”

Instead of comparing paper copies of bank accounts with balance sheets, each staff member has two computer screens with the digital copies in front of them.

Mr Creedy admitted he was dubious about having two screens at first, but is even considering a third.

There were a few hiccups during the first 12 months as staff got used to the system but they would never go back, he said.

“It was second nature for the younger staff, but for us older accountants there was a bit of comfort having that file tucked under your arm. Now we are all used to it, we’re providing a better, more timely service,” he said.

“The whole concept has worked so well we’ve had other accounting firms from Christchurch visit us to check out our system.”

Published in Marlborough Express- Kat Pickford 30/1/2012

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