The onset of the computer age produced an era of possibility, with increasing efficiency and the promise of becoming a "paperless society."
While computing, accounting and documentation technologies have advanced, the business world has been slow in shifting its need for filing cabinets, photocopies and duplicates. Paper still piles up in offices around the globe.
Bruce W. Evenrud, president and founding partner of EWA Software Solutions, thinks of "paperless" in terms of efficiency, cost savings, data protection, communication, and improving customer service and response time. The company provides financial and operations software, service and support to contractors, property managers and real estate developers throughout Southern California.
EWA Software helps businesses reduce or eliminate paper storage and/or disposal, lower printing and shipping costs, decrease data entry, secure virtually any document electronically and as a result, save time and money.
"If you don't go paperless in the next four to five years, you're going to get left behind," Evenrud said.
The days of FedExing bills and physically moving invoices from hand to hand have come to an end, he said.
EWA's Web site asserts that companies can save thousands of dollars by going paperless, and that clients generally recoup the costs of implementing the imaging and workflow automation solutions in about five months. Online visitors can click on the "ROI Calculator" to see savings and benefits.
The company provided paperless solutions, document management software and implementation for Kisco Senior Living of Carlsbad, which owns and manages independent and assisted living communities nationwide. The whole system paid for itself in savings in six to seven months, Evenrud said.
EWA itself has also gone paperless, and recently moved into a new facility in San Marcos. And, aside from the ones built into desks, "there's not a filing cabinet in our office," Evenrud said.
While some companies may be reluctant to make the significant paradigm shift, the change is inevitable, he said. Companies understand that "as they grow they'll need more sophisticated software," he said. "And I feel strongly that this technology is the best thing to come along in the last 15 years."
Evenrud's experience in accounting and assessing began in 1971, auditing construction companies. In 1978, he purchased and installed his first Sage Timberline Office Accounting System, and Evenrud has continued to work with his first clients for more than 25 years.
"We like to think of ourselves as business partners," he said of EWA's ongoing relationships with its customers. "They look to us for advice."
In 1983, he founded EWA to sell consulting services and software to the construction industry. The company has installed hundreds of systems, and provided software and training for more than 300 clients as a reseller for Sage Timberline.
EWA also offers Piracle payment management solutions, which equips companies to print their own checks and manage payments; Builder MT management technology to help builders convert data and manage profits; and Event 1 Software to augment Sage Timberline software.
In 2006, EWA became a reseller for Paperless Environments, whose products combine electronic versions of paper documents with existing information management to streamline business and accounting systems.
EWA has a core team of seven staff members, some with up to 35 years of experience in the construction industry. "Everybody that works for me has worked in the industry," Evenrud said. "We hold on to our clients because we know the circumstances. We've been there."
These days, with homebuilders struggling and construction down in San Diego, EWA will continue to stretch out into other industries with paperless solutions. The technology has been "very lucrative," Evenrud said, predicting that financial revenues for his company "will go from $2 (million) to $3 million and will hit to $4 (million) to $5 million per year."
And the companies that install paperless systems will reap the same rewards, he said. "They will ask in a few years: How could I ever have lived with out it?"
Chung Klam is a San Diego-based freelance writer.