Are you Ready to Transition to Paperless? Not Sure Where to Begin?
By Sherman Pereira, Crown Relocations,
Regional Director – Central and Eastern Europe
For organizations that are considering converting their paper documents into electronic images, they should consider the many benefits they will enjoy:
Faster retrieval of documents
Simultaneous access to a single document
Elimination of misfiled and misplaced paperwork
Reduction in physical storage requirements
Utilization of converted images for inclusion on a company’s Web site
Competitive advantages due to quicker access to information, which enables better client service
Before beginning any transition to a “paperless” or “less paper” environment, some fundamental decisions need to be answered. One question is whether to implement a “back-file” conversion system, when the organization’s existing records are scanned and converted to electronic files, or implement a “day forward” system, when only newly generated documents are converted.
To answer these questions, the retention periods of these records will need to be examined closely. For obsolete documents, scanning would be a cost-prohibitive option. For older records, the amount of time left in the records’ lifecycles, potential compliance requirements and frequency of access can be measured against the cost of scanning them into electronic files. Regardless of whether an organization chooses to implement a “backfile” conversion system or not, they will still need to assess their needs for scanning their “day forward” documents.
For documents that employees will need to access on a regular basis, having them available as digital files and accessible on their own individual desktops will improve efficiencies. It will enable one, two, five or any number of employees to access the files simultaneously, all this will save time and money.
Before investing in any kind of imaging system, a significant amount of research will need to be done in order to determine what type of system will meet the needs and objectives as cost effectively as possible.
The most significant cost associated with an imaging system is labour: organizing the documents, removing staples and paperclips, scanning the documents, performing quality control on the images, performing data entry for indexing, packing the files into boxes for storage, storing or destroying the files, etc. The activity of actually scanning the documents is only a small aspect of the project.
Another important issue to consider is confidentiality. Confidential and other sensitive material, when in paper form, may be sealed, placed in a secure location and made inaccessible to certain staff. When these documents are imaged, security measures must also be implemented. The contents of all sensitive and confidential records must be examined and procedures must be put in place to control access and maintain their integrity.
Once the files have been scanned and converted into electronic files, the next step in the implementation is uploading the images to an online hosting system. Once they are uploaded, designated employees are given login names and passwords and trained on the software. They are trained on retrieving, sorting, viewing and printing electronic images.