Digital document management for small business – 7 tips to get started

As a small business owner, you know that managing costs is of utmost importance to your business. Also high on that list of important business concerns is working efficiently, and freeing up resources to focus on the most important parts of your business.

In the modern business environment, one of the best ways to optimize your operations is to make significant use of digital documents, if not entirely. But as with any small business initiative, that can seem daunting and time-consuming.

With that in mind, here are 7 tips to get started with this vital part of your business – ones which can open up new opportunities for efficiency and growth within your organization.

1. Assess Your Goals

digital document management for small business

Besides the obvious goal of cutting long-term costs that can stem from the reduction of paper use around the office, there could be a number of other goals that you’re looking to achieve by using digital documentation in your internal and client-facing dealings.

For one thing, beyond the financial implications of cutting paper use, it’s also the environmentally-friendly choice to make. And as mentioned above, there is also significant potential to make your organization’s operations much more efficient by cutting out the need for physical printing, filing, and mailing.

Make a list of everything that you hope to achieve through your company’s use of digital document management. Do you hope to document your customers’ information? Integrate their information with a customer relationship management system? Or perhaps you just want to reduce the burden of the time and costs associated as much as possible.

Whatever the case, starting with this base of requirements can inform your choices in the following steps, and also provide guidance to the companies you are dealing with, if any, to help set up and implement your digital document management.

2. Set aside a budget.

Your digital document management systems are an investment in the future and efficiency of your business. And while you are likely to see considerable long-term cost savings by using a primarily digital document management system, there are, of course, the initial costs of setup and implementation in the interim. Among the things you should account for in estimating an initial budget, which can vary widely depending on your requirements, are:

  • Storage space (hard drives, servers, cloud services)
  • File Conversion Software
  • Software to protect your systems and files
  • Labour costs of Training others

But on the other hand, these are the elements that you can potentially expect to save money on in the future:

  • Cost savings in time spent filing paper and retrieving documents
  • Time spent by administrative staff
  • The cost of paper
  • Printing costs
  • Photocopying costs
  • Physical space for storage
  • Shredding costs
  • Mailing costs
  • And more

As you can see, there’s substantial potential for cost savings to be had, depending on the size and scale of your operations and your digital document management system.

3. Consider different storage options

The size of your business, your usage of files, and amount of documents and files that you run through on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis will help can all effect what sort of digital storage options are right for you. If you’re a small operation of one person or a few, perhaps you’ll have plenty of space for now on your computers’ hard drives (though hopefully, you’ll outgrow that if your business is successful.)

For companies that are a bit larger, you may want to look at investing in a fileserver that all computers in the office are remotely linked to. Another option is using an offsite server, sometimes referred to as a cloud service, to store your organization’s documents and files.

4. Choose File Formats that Suit the Needs of Your Business.

This might take a little bit of research, but is well worth the time invested. Here is a brief primer on a few of the most common file types used across the business world today.

  • .DOC, .DOCX. This is the standard file format used by Microsoft Word. Word is the world’s most commonly used word processor, so you will end up sending and receiving at least some files in this format. However, it comes with some drawbacks; most critically, that document formatting can be greatly changed when sending a document from one computer to the next. This can make you look unprofessional in the eyes of your clients and customers. To avoid this problem the next format listed is ideal for many businesses.
  • PDF stands for portable document format. It was developed in part to address some of the shortcomings of Word, in that document formatting is exactly maintained from one system to the next. The format has some other huge benefits in business use. As with Word, the format is widely used, so there’s not much worry about the recipient being unable to view the document you’re sending, correctly. File size tends to be small while maintaining good quality. You can integrate anything you would into a Word document, such as links, pictures and the like. And the files can even be password-protected, adding a layer of security that’s important for any company dealing with digital documents.
  • The TIFF file format was originally developed to handle scanned documents, so its roots in the business world are firmly established. Like PDF, the formatting of a given file is maintained across all devices and operating systems. TIFF files will tend to be larger than PDFs, but the format offers flexibility that allow you to customize the compression of files, balancing quality and file size. Because of its high quality and relatively secure features built into the format, TIFF is widely used in a variety of professions and industries that transmit sensitive customer data.

You may also make regular use of some of the following file formats in your day-to-day business operations: PPT (Powerpoint); .XLS, .XLSX, .CSV (Excel); .GIF, .PNG, .BMP (image formats); .TXT (Text file); .HTML (webpages); .PUB (Microsoft Publisher); and many more.

5. Choose document conversion software.

Choosing the right software as a conduit to your digital documentation and records management is of critical importance. You will likely find that you need to do file conversions on a regular basis.

As a business, one thing that you generally don’t want to be relying upon is free online conversion tools. These can be located on untrustworthy servers, and slap watermarks on your documents. As well, they often don’t offer much in the way of output customization.

For small companies and organizations, if you don’t want to install software on your systems, consider making use of a site such as This allows you to pay a small monthly fee ($4.95/ for 50 conversions).

Beyond that, Peernet offers a wide variety of software to fit your document conversion requirements. Our line of image printers (Raster Image Printer, TIFF Image Printer and PDF Image Printer) offer outstanding functionality and are priced to suit the budgets of small to medium sized businesses. Best of all, using these programs is as easy as printing a physical document – they simply show up as options when you go File > Print. And just like that, your converted file is ready for you in the format that you require.

If you have a regular need to create PDF files, you may also find value in our PDF Creator Plus 7.0 software. This program is built as a more cost-effective alternative to Adobe Acrobat, allowing you to create PDF by combining and editing other files.

Another option, depending on your needs, is our Convert to PDF 4.0 program. This is a virtual printer that allows you to convert documents to vector PDFs, allowing them to be searchable and editable.

For more information on our file conversion software, and which program may be right for the needs of your particular small business, please contact us or watch the short video below.

6. Implement a system of document organization.

If you’ve ever wasted time rifling through an unorganized file cabinet looking for a certain document, then you already know the value of a good organizational system. The same applies with digital record keeping and file conversion. You want to establish a consistent protocol and naming convention that allows you to easily track, sort, and search relevant documents.

This is not only a huge time-saver, it also allows you to fully maximize your time and cost-savings by maintaining digital documents or physical, paper documents. For some ideas on how to do this, please check out our previous blog post called,File Name Structure for Business: a Guide to Save Time and Stay Organized.

7. Establish Document Security Protocol.

Just as you’d want some sort of security system in place for your physical documentation, the same goes for digital documents. This particularly holds true if you’re maintaining customer information either on your in-house systems or on a cloud server. There are several steps you can take to help secure your systems. First, make sure that you and your staff’s computers all have antivirus and anti-malware software installed and that the software is regularly updated to catch the latest threats. It’s also important to establish and maintain a regular schedule of scans, which can be automated if you wish.

Another layer of protection comes in your organization’s use of passwords. Passwords to access customer information, as well as various accounts on your computers and the Internet, should be strong. This means a mix of upper case and lower case characters, as well as numbers, and other characters that make it impossible for passwords to be “brute-forced.”

You should also establish and stick to a set of good practices to ensure that your customer, client and internal data is protected as well as it can be. You should figure the minimum amount of a customer’s information that your company needs to have on file, and never go beyond that (especially credit card numbers.) This can help limit the amount of damage done to your reputation in the unfortunate event of a hack or a leak.

Finally, establish a routine of regular document backups. In the event of an issue with your physical equipment, or something like a flood or a fire, taking this simple step will save you a lot of time and trouble in the end.

Digital Document Management for Your Small Business

We’re always willing to lend a helping hand and point you in the right direction for your company’s file conversion and digital documentation needs. Be sure to check out all of our file conversion software,and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

Document Conversion Service - Windows 10 Certified - Update Now

New Product Releases, Built for Windows 10

Peernet is proud to announce the release of new versions throughout most of our software portfolio!

The new software versions coincide with the rollout of Windows 10, the latest operating system from Microsoft. All of our programs have been updated to work seamlessly with the new OS, in addition to containing a number of updated features that improve the user experience.

Best of all, if you already own one of our products, we have some tremendous offers available. Simply log in here and click the appropriate link for big savings on your software upgrade.

If not, here’s a quick look at each of our newly-upgraded products, and why they might be right for your needs!

Document Conversion Service 3.0

Document Conversion Service - Windows 10 Certified - Update NowFor businesses with the need for batch file conversion, Document Conversion Service (DCS) is the ideal solution. Our customers around the world commonly use DCS as an enterprise-level conversion solution.

DCS allows for customizable drag & drop file conversion as well as powerful functionality like command line tools to convert files and folders, and Workflow integration. The new version of DCS allows you to convert to vector (searchable) PDF files from Microsoft Office documents. That opens up the functionality for Word to PDF, Excel to PDF, PowerPoint to PDF, HTML to PDF and much more!

What’s New in version 3.0:

  • Creation of PDF files containing PDF graphics, embedded fonts, hyperlinks and more.
  • Support for Windows® 10 and Windows® 10 Server.
  • Support for Adobe® Reader DC.
  • Improved startup of DCS service by refactoring application pool to be self regulating.
  • Improved retry logic when a document fails to open or convert correctly.

Image Printer 11.0

(TIFF Image Printer 11.0, PDF Image Printer 11.0, Raster Image Printer 11.0)

Our line of image printers makes document conversion so easy – the user simply prints a Windows document as they normally would, and just selects the Image Printer rather than a physical, Raster Image Printer - Windows 10 Certified - Upgrade Nowin-office printer.

TIFF Image Printer allows you to easily convert to TIFF using this method. PDF Image Printer provides the functionality to print to PDF. And Raster Image Printer is an all-in-one conversion solution that allows you to quickly and easily create files, converting from any printable document format to TIFF, JPEG, PDF, GIF, PNG and more.

What’s New in all three products, version 11.0:

  • Support for Windows® 10 and Windows® 10 Server.
  • Improved page size matching when dealing with documents with custom page sizes.
  • Printer core is now fully 64-bit when installed on a 64-bit operating system.

PDF Creator Plus 7.0

PDF Creator Plus - Windows 10 Certified - Upgrade NowIf you need a program with the functionality of Adobe Acrobat, but at a budget that suits your needs, check out PDF Creator Plus.

This program allows you to combine, edit and merge Windows documents to create PDF files.

What’s new in version 7.0:

  • Support for Windows® 10.
  • Improved page size matching when dealing with custom page sizes.
  • Printer core is now fully 64-bit.

File Conversion Center 6.0

File Conversion Center - Windows 10 Certified - Upgrade NowAn ideal time-saving product for businesses large and small, to save time and make file conversions more efficient. File Conversion Center allows you to batch convert files to PDF, JPEG, TIFF and a number of other formats.

What’s new in version 6.0:

  • Support for Windows® 10
  • Support for 256-encrypted Adobe PDFs
  • Improved paper size matching
  • Fully 64-bit printer core components

Convert to PDF 4.0

Convert to PDF - Windows 10 Certified - Upgrade NowTo convert files to searchable PDF format, Convert to PDF is your ideal piece of software. It easily converts any printable Windows document to a virtual PDF printer, allowing you to easily customize the quality of the conversion as well as various other settings.

What’s new in version 4.0:

  • Support for Windows® 10 and Windows® 10 Server.
  • Improved page size matching when dealing with documents with custom page sizes.
  • Printer core is now fully 64-bit when installed on a 64-bit operating system.

3 Examples of How Businesses Got Ahead Through Digitizing Their Documents

digitizationA study by the Association of Records Managers and Administrators estimates that more than 90% of business records created today are electronic. They would agree that for successful businesses, it is important to constantly strive to have the best practices and processes in place in order to get ahead of competitors, and thrive through efficiency.

With the state of technology today, and the speed with which it is advancing, it’s easy to see how failure to adapt to, and adopt new tools can leave a company behind in the dust. This blog addresses how 3 real companies ditched their reliance on paper and got ahead in the business world through document conversion and digitization.

Speed Up Performance

A large insurance company based in the UK provides multiple forms of insurance to their clients. This company partners with banks, and uses them as a channel to provide their insurance products to the bank’s customers. Because of the complexity of the insurance requirements from customers, the insurance company’s success had come from the ability to respond swiftly to the often varied demands.

In order to scale the organization efficiently, the company needed a way to streamline operational efficiency in responding to client needs. In order to achieve this, they spent time digitizing more than 100,000 documents through tools with similar capabilities to image printers that print to image.

This project helped shift the company towards a paperless office with simpler processes, and easier to manage electronic documents. With less effort required to sift through paper work, employees were able to pursue more streamlined processes, making document management much easier, and speeding up their ability to respond to client demands.

Reduce Storage Space

Law firms go through dozens of documents a day if not more, with each consisting of countless pages outlining various case details. Even a simple discussion can lead to a briefing spanning hundreds of pages.

For one of Canada’s largest law firms these documents lead to two very real problems.

The first problem comes in the form of storage. Having all these paper documents necessitates a lot of physical storage space which can be costly, and could be better used. This issue could easily be solved by converting the paper documents through print to jpg. Also, over time as more and more documents get added to the records, these spaces get more and more difficult to navigate, leading to the second issue.

When you have a large number of documents and you need to find one particularly quickly, physical storage does not facilitate easy searching. Depending on the complexity of the filing system, you can spend valuable hours looking for the right document on a case that is highly time sensitive. An easy fix would be to create pdfs for easy filing.

The law firm found a solution to both these problems in converting their paper documents into electronic documents. Electronic documents allowed for centralized storage of critical information, and allowed for easy searchability.

Not only did this reduce the cost and fees associated with storage, but it also improved the efficiency of the firm in finding critical documents, allowing them to better serve their clients.

Increase Searchability

One of the world’s largest corrugated cardboard manufacturing companies had had enough with their manual, labour intensive process of sifting through invoices for their accounts payable department. Their former process required thirty-two personnel to sort through approximately 35,000 purchase orders and financial invoices from over 10,000 unique vendors per month. With these numbers, it was easy to see how all this added up to frustration.

All these monthly documents required manual processing. To reduce these efforts, systems were put in place which allowed for automated approvals on files after they were digitized, or data enriched via a process similar to jpeg to tiff or convert pdf to tiff. By converting the paper invoices into electronic documents, specialized software would then recognize critical information fields and automatically process the information, removing the dependence of manual labour from staff.

The thirty-two employees were freed for reallocation to other areas of the organization where they could provide more value following the implementation of these new processes. The increased efficiencies also led to faster document handling processes, which in turn led to vendors being more accountable, as errors were caught much more quickly, and much earlier in the process.

Increase Productivity, and Manage Your Documents More Easily

With the above real world examples, it’s easy to see the importance of eliminating the dependence on paper documents, and switching to the far more efficient, easier to find, and less cumbersome electronic documents.

Improve your company’s efficiencies, reduce waste and materials costs, and streamline processes with our tiff printer which allows you to take any Microsoft document and print to tiff, or any of our other conversion software tools to suit your document conversion needs.

PDF for Business

7 Big Benefits of Using PDF for Business

PDF for Business

Portable Document Format, or PDF for short, was developed in the early 1990s. At that point in time, sharing documents between different computers and operating systems could be highly problematic, so the idea was to create a file format that would maintain fixed formatting.

Over time, it’s grown into one of the most widely-used document formats in the world.

PDFs are particularly useful for many companies in the business world. Whether you’re invoicing clients, maintaining customer records in a consistent format, or sending important memos, you can be sure with PDFs that the person viewing the document will see it as it was intended to be.

Here are 7 big benefits to making the PDF format a part of your business operations, and some options for how to create PDFs.

  1. Document format is maintained. One of the problems with sharing documents made in Microsoft Word or other word processors is that when you share a file from one computer to the next, the formatting can prove to be very different. This can cause confusion, or make you look bad to your clients or colleagues. You can rest easier with the PDF format, that your document will be presented exactly how you layed it out. It’s also ideal for sending documents that are intended to be printed out.
  2. The format is ubiquitous. Because it’s so good for what it sets out to do, PDF has been widely adopted all around the world. The format is easy to view and share, so whether you’re sharing a document with someone down the street, or on the other side of the world, PDF is a safe choice to send it in.
  3. They tend to have a small file size in comparison to other formats. The TIFF file format has many benefits beyond PDF, but the PDF format has the big advantage of compressing high-quality files to a relatively small file size. That’s ideal for saving hard drive space, particularly if you’re working with limited storage resources.
  4. The files can be protected by password. If you’re a business of any size, it’s possible, or even likely, that you’re handling some of your customers’ sensitive information. PDF files can be password-protected, giving you the ability make sure prying eyes are kept away from your important business documents.
  5. It works on any operating system. PDF works on all the major operating systems currently in use. So whether the viewer is on a PC or a Mac, or even on a newer mobile operating system like iOS and Android, there’s almost no worry about the receiver being unable to view the document.
  6. Easily integrate non-text elements (e.g. images, hyperlinks, etc.) PDFs allow you to maintain visually-pleasing layouts, and make use of links that will open up in the viewer’s web browser when viewing the documents on a computer or mobile device.
  7. It’s not likely to go away. Technology moves quickly, but PDFs are probably here to stay for the long-haul. The format is so widespread and has so much history behind it that it would take a fundamental shift in computing for everyone to adopt a different standard. An investment in PDF software now is sure to stand up in the long run, and give your company an excellent return on investment.

What Program Should I Use to Create PDF?

PEERNET offers a variety of software which is designed to suit your needs. Whether you’re a home user or part of a large corporation, we have a PDF Converter or creator that’s right for you.

PDF Image Printer: PDF Image Printer functions as a virtual printer, so you can “print” any Windows document to PDF format. It’s perfect for people who need to archive and share files in a secure PDF format, and allows for password protection and encryption.

PDF Creator Plus: A cost-effective alternative to Adobe Acrobat, which allows you to create PDF files by combining and editing other files. Convert from any Windows document to PDF. Ideal for home use or at the office.

Document Conversion Service: Our enterprise-level software which allows for around-the-clock batch document conversion. Ideal for converting a variety of document types to TIFF, JPG, PDF and other image formats automatically, often as part of a workflow.

If you have any further questions about converting files to PDF, feel free to contact us.

Linking PDF Table of Contents to Sections Within, Using Our PDF Creator Plus

Did you know that you can add outlines to a PDF file (links from and to sections within the PDF itself) by using the Annotation tool bar found in PDF Creator Plus?

Let say you have printed (merged & converted) a Word document, Excel spreadsheet and a PowerPoint file via PDF Creator Plus into a single PDF file, but you would also like to have a table of contents, so users can jump to the start of each file you added in the merged PDF file. Essentially, a table of contents with links to each section of the PDF file.

This can easily be done in the PDF Creator Plus project screen when using the tools found on the Annotation tool bar.

Basic Steps to Creating a Linked Table of Contents in PDF Creator Plus

  1. Print all your files to PDF Creator Plus.
  2. In Word or another application of your choice, create a page with the information you want to see as your Table of Contents, then print that page to PDF Creator Plus and insert it before the first page in the project.PDF Creator Plus Outline - Insert Table of Contents
  3. Use the Outline tool (PDF Creator Plus Outline - Outline Tool Icon) on the Annotation bar to create a bookmark on each page you want to jump to from the Table of Contents page. A bookmark will show as a green dotted box in the PDF Creator Plus project screen but does not appear in the final PDF file.PDF Creator Plus Outline - Create Bookmark
  4. On the Table of Contents page, use the Hyperlink tool (PDF Creator Plus Outline - Hyperlink Tool Icon) on the Annotation bar to create hyperlinks, and set the links to jump to the newly created Bookmarks. These hyperlinks will show as a blue dotted boxes in the PDF Creator Plus project screen but do not appear in the final PDF file.PDF Creator Plus Outline - Create Hyperlink
  5. Click Create PDF button to create the PDF file. On the Create File screen, make sure “Include Outline” and “Include Hyperlinks” are checked.PDF Creator Plus Outline- Check Include Outline and Inlcude Hyperlinks

It’s that easy to create a PDF with linked table of contents!

For a more detailed set of instructions, see Creating An Outline in PDF Creator Plus. And for all other document conversion needs, such as to converting to tiff, see our product suite.