OLWH: Managing Paperwork in an Architecture Business
Why the Client Called Me: One of my clients is a small architecture firm based in Mill Valley. They have between 5-8 employees, depending on the project. Each employee is remotely-located, but they all share information about the various clients - so they all need access to the same project information. In addition, paper/critical information accumulates in the office from multiple sources - emails, inspector reports, government licenses, product design, blueprints, products & vendors and more. Keeping up with all the paperwork for each client was becoming unbearable.
The biggest challenges were:
Saving paper/digital data across multiple forms and devices
Finding information across projects and categories
Saving information from the internet with other pertinent data
Take One: Tame the Paper Clutter. With Evernote, all types of notes can be saved in the same notebook, no matter the format. Handwritten notes, business cards, emails and attachments. You name it - it’s all in. This specific client uses a Livescribe smart pen to take notes in an actual notebook, and then the notes are digitally-uploaded to Evernote. Once there, they can be organized into various notebooks. (Just to note, you don’t need this specific pen…you can also take handwritten notes in with a normal pen…and I like using the Evernote Notebooks for Moleskine. )
Take Two: Find What You Need. Once your information is digital, Evernote makes it EASY to find what you need. No more hunting down what folders a note may be in. Evernote has the power to make your handwriting - or text inside photos - searchable. Check out more on that here. But in addition to searching text, we set up a notebook and tag structure that made sense for the architect. We set up standard naming conventions, set up his project notebooks, and identified what critical information he needed at his fingertips for quick access.
Take Three: Access your Research. One of the most powerful features of Evernote is the Web Clipper, and this architect made great use of it. When researching products for his designs, he is now able to ‘clip’ and save research from various websites into the appropriate notebooks related to his work. No more saving endless bookmarks in his internet browser, only to forget what is there.
As a result of leveraging the power of Evernote for his business, my client has sanity and relief from paper clutter as well as confidence that he can find what he needs. And that is worth its weight in paper piles.
For more on going paperless and OCR, check out 3 Tips for Making Your Digital Files Searchable (& Editable!) Remember, going paperless is good for the planet and your business! Not sure how long to keep your papers around? Check out Paperwork Retention: How Long is Enough?