Going Paperless: Paperless Workflow for a Small/Home Office

In this post I will tell you my story of digitizing paper work in my home-office. Why do I want to get rid of paper docs? The answer is here.

My way is quite simple and contains of only four steps.

My goal is to create a workflow that will let me efficiently process all my paper documents to eventually end up with a smart digital storage filled up with them. The storage must be secure. Also I want to be able to instantly search for any document that I'm looking for. And, of course, after digitizing, I can not shred the documents and have to store them physically.

What kind of documents I want to digitize? At first, it's my contracts with customers. Yes, it's still done on paper. Second, my personal docs: passport, drivers license, diploma, etc. Third, it's bills, starting from electricity and water, ending with loans.

Step 0. Download and Install a Document Archive System

I considered several products to use: Paperless, Mayan EDMS and Ambar. And ended up choosing a self-hosted version of Ambar. It provides you with instant search, OCR and useful UI. The guide how to install Ambar is here.

Step 1. Digitizing Your Documents.

Ok, to start paperless workflow you need a device which converts physical paper documents into a format that computer understands. Those devices are called scanners. I recommend you to buy a cheapest one from a good known vendor. I bought a Canon scanner for less than 100$. Plug it into your computer, configure the scanner software to save all the scanned files into Ambar Dropzone (\\\dropzone). And start scanning!

Step 2. Searching

After scanning is done. Now you can get all the benefits from working with digital docs. Let's go to Ambar UI and find your Id by it's number or a contract by a keyword.

Image with contract

Step 3. Managing Original Paper Docs

Often you can not afford shredding all the docs right after scanning, you might need the originals. I recommend you to store that docs in folders labeled by weeks. Of course, it depends on the number of documents you receive daily. For some users it will be better to group documents by months or by days.


My workflow for managing paper docs:

  1. Every new document is being scanned
  2. After scanning I put it into the current week box
  3. At the start of next week I collect the docs from the box and put them into the folder labeled 'Week #N (from - to)'
  4. Put the folder on the shelve and start filling up the box with new documents

I iterate through this processes every week. When I need the paper version of some document, I quickly find the doc in Ambar, check the created date field and go to my 'original docs' shelf.


To Sum Up

That was my way to create a paperless workflow at your home office. I hope it'll be useful for you!

Ilya P

Read more posts by this author.

Subscribe to Ambar Blog. How we made your docs searchable

Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox.

or subscribe via RSS with Feedly!