Organization is something humans strive to do, but often realize it can be just out of their grasp.
While writing this, I was reminded of a time when my immediate boss and I were summoned to the file room (don’t get excited — it was really just a closet filled with filing cabinets) to search for a contract from someone whose penned article was appearing in our publication.
How it would work was the newspaper would run the article, and when we went to press with it (aka putting that week’s section to bed), we would fax the contract to the person for their signature. They would sign it and fax it back (yes, there was such a time when we used the fax heavily.)
Usually that would happen within a day. But in the case of the contract we were looking for, apparently it had not happened.
Our reward for not finding the contract was a lecture about the dangers of publishing someone’s work without an agreement.
For a small business, being able to find that contract, or receipt, or invoice could mean the difference between making money that day or being a litigant, as “The People’s Court’s” Judge Marilyn Milian often calls people in that situation.
The Neat Co. did a study earlier in the year and found that, indeed, organization was an aspiration that people have. And they attempt to do it — wanting to clean out some filing cabinets or better prepare for next year’s taxes, Chris Barbier, senior vice president of product management at The Neat Co. told me.
“It starts out like a New Year’s resolution of going to the gym, and then it comes down to reality,” he said. “Some sort of event usually triggers the starting of the process.”
And there is good news. Barbier said that once people are faced with a big backlog of getting things into a system, organization usually becomes a daily part of the routine.
Technology has also come a long way in helping people get organized. From people able to scan documents to making them searchable, to organizing work through a shared project space, there is usually something for everyone.
While there is still traditional desktop software, Barbier is also delving more into the cloud. He advocates for that because it doesn’t “tether” people to their desktop. They can have access to their documents from anywhere. They can also share those documents more easily.
For example, during tax time, a business owner can share receipts and other paperwork directly with his accountant, but without having to send a large file.
Security on the cloud is still an apprehensive point with some customers. Barbier often explains that the level of security is similar to the method used by banks. He has also heard some interesting reasons why people don’t want to use anything associated with the cloud. One in particular was a fear that whatever they put in the cloud would be freely accessible by the government.
Overall, he finds that organization technology to be something that many small businesses can take advantage of — basically deferring that “chore” to someone else.
It probably would have been worthwhile for my boss and I to have that kind of technology while having the deal with all of those contracts. It would have definitely prevented me from spending any time in the file closet.
Photo credit: Alan Levine via Flickr