Naturally, we are proponents of getting paper out of your office, freeing up that storage space, making your documents more flexible and secure, and providing the backup capabilities afforded by digital documents.
Occasionally, we get the response: We HAVE to keep the paper! Whether it’s the boss at the company who loves to be able to walk into a records room and pull a file or the state or local government that requires retention of paper files by certain organizations, there’s no getting around the fact that some offices feel bound to stick with the paper hard copies.
Be that as it may, there are still three good reasons to digitize those documents.
Having the room full of records allows you to comply with a higher entity when they require that a paper file be retained. There’s no way to make good on the goal of reducing storage costs, barring high-density storage shelves or finding inexpensive off-site storage. But in any physical form, that data is susceptible. To what, you say? Fire. Flood. Vandalism. Theft. Those are just a few bullet points.
What if a roof caves in under the weight of snow, or simply because the building is old? What if an employee topples a shelf with a forklift, rendering your precious documents unusable? The data may all still be there, but try reconstituting the box of paper manually. It’s hugely labor-intensive.
You need only to take a look at the video below to get an idea of the vulnerability of shelving storage:
Having that digital copy can not only give you a reference to put those boxes back together, but even when a more severe circumstance results and they are destroyed, you still have your documents.
Additional note: Make sure you have a good backup of the data. Too often offices don’t take that simple and inexpensive measure to protect their digital copies.
Every time you pull a file to be worked, you have a workflow associated with those papers. It has to go to one person for a particular action, then to another for another particular action, etc. Without a digital document management solution, how do you maintain the consistency of that workflow? How do you ensure it gets implemented? How do you outline the points of the workflow?
Probably either by verbal communication or with. . . another document.
Digitized documents can be subject to a digital workflow, meaning you configure the steps and path, attach it to the document, and you have actual logs telling you where that document is in the process, how long it’s been there, and where it needs to go next, all automatically. Talk about being free from the burden of having to babysit a document as it moves through the office, now you just get a report from the babysitter.
In a records room, the security is limited to a lock on a door. Anyone with that key has access to all of the data in the room. But maybe you have a few higher-security cabinets that have their own lock. So everyone who has that key can get to any document in the filing cabinet.
How about being able to add much more granularity to your security? Need someone to be able to view them, but not pull them? Not very easy in paper. Going with the precept that you only grant access to documents the person needs access to (and only allowing them to do what they need to do to the documents) is extremely more versatile and practical in a digital environment.
Take the time to generate and be able to recall strong passwords. The best security system is nothing when the password is set to two characters, or a common office word in the hopes of making it easy to use by office staff.
So, after you digitize, even if your boss says, “Get me that file. . . in my hands“, you can just print out the document they’re requesting. That is, of course, if you have been granted rights to print.