For a small business looking to reduce costs, here are three good places to start:

1. Improving paper and document management

2. Reducing travel

3. Outsourcing some IT functions

It’s time for your small business to join the ranks of other medium and large businesses in taking advantage of the tools in the new world of work to save money in these three areas. Let’s dive in.

1. Reduce paper costs

Improve output management and digitize your paper-heavy processes.

As an office consumable, paper costs money.

…And not just for the paper itself, either. There’s also time and money involved in procuring and storing boxes of paper.

Turning paper into your documents requires buying and maintaining a “fleet” of machines to do the printing, copying, scanning and faxing. This includes “consumables” — ink, toner and other parts, which, like paper, need to be bought, and kept somewhere.

And, once created, documents have to be distributed, filed, accessed, mailed out, and eventually, recycled securely. Translation: file cabinets, file rooms… and employee time.

Oftentimes, paper communications are a vital necessity. But how make your office’s paper and paper-related costs work more efficiently?

Digitize those documents

Once digitized, your papers can start working for you. What does that mean? Employees can search for what they need, then read, share, and even, when need be, print what is relevant to them. Cloud services can make it easy for employees at multiple locations to access and share these documents.

The challenge will be “getting there” — which will require lot of scanning, verification, and organizing.

Consider outsourcing this to a company that provides document conversion services. Also look for a partner that provides secure cloud data storage and access.

Digitize your work processes

Most businesses don’t just create and accumulate paper, they also run on paper. And “pushing paper” forms, inter-office envelopes, and Fedexes are often slow and less convenient in our digital, Internet era.

Look for digital content and document management systems, and workflow automation tools. Think “less paper, more productivity, less costs.”

Wrangle your printer/copier fleet better

You can’t expect to make all paper-related activity go digital, but the odds are good you can improve its efficiency. A Managed Fleet Optimization service can help you right-size your fleet, and handle management of devices and consumables, reducing your equipment, supplies and related costs.


MORE: How File Cabinets Are Putting Your  Business at Risk


Reduce travel costs

Travel is an inescapable reality for some businesses. It is also inescapable that travel is inefficient.

Even armed with mobile devices and wireless Internet service, employees still lose otherwise-productive time when they travel. Not to mention, it costs money to travel.

But increasingly, travel can be avoided — using tools and services that even small businesses can afford.

Smartphones, tablets, and notebook and desktop computers can not only perform voice and video conference calls, but these devices can also be used for “remote desktop access” — controlling one computer from another, or simply sharing access to a distant computer’s screen session. Apps and managed cloud services for this are readily available, and highly affordable — especially compared to travel costs.

Audio and video calling, in addition to remote access, is good not just for meetings, but also for customer support, remote system administration, teaching and training, and other business activities.

For activities where larger groups are involved, look into teleconferencing. Depending on how much remote collaboration your small business conducts, this can be as flexible as a large display on a desktop or on a rolling cart brought into a conference room, to a “telepresence” meeting room or auditorium equipped with “life-size” video walls, multiple cameras, microphones and speakers, interactive whiteboards, and lighting.

Concerned whether your small company can deal with running these activities? Don’t be — third-party providers have the IT and AV experts, along with cloud-based collaboration software.

Reduce IT costs

Managed IT office services can and will keep your business humming.

Small businesses are using more computer technology than ever before. Employees — and customers — need information to be available and accessible 24/7 while remaining secure for increasingly “mobile” employees and customers.

That can be a daunting IT challenge for smaller businesses, many of whom have one or two dedicated IT staff in-house at best.

The solution: “managed IT support.” Companies like mindSHIFT (a Ricoh company) offer the IT services to keep your company’s computers, networks, applications and employee activities up and running.

Look for managed IT support that includes:

  • off-site/remote monitoring
  • help desk including for desktop, server and mobile, onsite and offsite
  • hosted email, collaboration
  • phone and computer networking
  • backup and recovery

The result? Smoother IT, with better security, better reliability, lowered and more predictable TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

When it doubt, call in the experts

Whether it’s document management, online meetings and collaboration, or keeping your company’s technology infrastructure humming, you don’t have to tackle these tasks on your own. Your company doesn’t generate its own electricity, build its own delivery vehicles, or grow its own coffee (unless you’re in one of these businesses, of course). The more you can outsource to dedicated experts, the more your company can focus on the actual business.

Savings are everywhere. You just have to know how to look.