When it comes to efficiency and ergonomics, there is no doubt that digital records are more amenable than paper ones. Digital records are easy to search, store, secure and backup to say the least. When you decide to look into going paperless, a quick Internet search will probably leave you with thousands of pages that detail a variety of ways your business can make the jump. Considering how important your documents are to your business’ well-being, it’s important to look before you leap.
Document conversion software and applications have come a long way over the past few decades. What started out as a simple, photographic image of a scanned piece of paper is now a searchable document that actually interprets the handwritten text. An impressive demonstration of the potential this software can offer is already known to those who have researched their family history through online databases. Many ship manifests and immigration documents that were handwritten in ledgers and stored away in the catacombs of a basement archive are now accessible by anyone with a computer due to document conversion software innovation.
Still, it’s understandable why business owners are apprehensive about changing the method of file storage that has worked for so long - and technically still does. Certain industries have requirements and compliance regulations regarding record storage and disposal. It’s important to make sure that you are aware of those mandates before you start converting and/or destroying paper documents. Many SMBs, however, are technically only required to keep records for a short period of time, but choose to keep them longer - just in case.
When it comes to privacy, regulatory compliance standards, like those set forth by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), require that digital records containing sensitive information be handled a certain way. If you’re an organization that has to follow these regulations, or ones like them, you must make sure that compliance is sustained during and after conversion.
Another consideration is the resources available to you for the conversion, as it can be an extremely involved process. Think about it like this: If a business dealt with 5 customers a day in the 90s, they would be left with 13,000 paper records that need to be stored properly or disposed of - and that is assuming they had only one paper per customer. Luckily, those of you who would like to digitize paper records, but have neither the time nor the equipment to do so, will find there are a variety of 3rd party services available that are willing to take on even the most tedious document conversion project. Whether or not outsourcing this endeavor is the right choice for your business will depend on your needs, budget, and security requirements.
For those who are ready to dive in, a document management solution can help you organize and establish processes for maintaining documents from the start. They generally include document conversion software with elements that make it easy to categorize and audit document trails, as well as implementing security measures, making edits, and tracking versions.
When it comes to records and files, you never know when you might need them. Digitized files are the difference between a 2-minute search and a 2 hour one. Are you interested in learning more about digital record keeping and document management systems? Contact Nexela today.