Preservation and retention are often one of the more complicated components to any document storage and management system. While it is important–and in some cases the law–to hold on to certain files, finding the space to safely store them in an organized manner can become a challenge. However, it is one that can easily be overcome with the help of a digitized solution and a paperless approach.
The Villager, a Houston Newspaper, spoke with several city officials about a new system that the county is implementing that will not only scan historical documents and records, but also create online forms to handle some court and judicial processes.
According to District Clerk Barbara Adamick, the goal is to have the first phase completed by November. She believes it will save the county money on paper, ink and man hours while also cutting down on the theft of historical documents.
"My office is diligently training on the system now. It's going to be a great system. It's a home for all electronic data for the public to access," Adamick said. "Technology is moving, moving, moving. We're racing to give you historical documents with an app. I'm putting forth a big effort to be paperless by January."
So far, 29,384 documents with dates ranging as far back as 1839 have been scanned and are available to view.
This system is not only preserving history, but also making it easier for consumers to access it while streamlining workflow for county employees.
The increased efficiency and cost savings of switching to a digital system have been seen by businesses around the world. It has reached the point that many employees that work in a paperless office are starting to voice their support of the other companies following suit.
In a letter to the editor of the Galway Independent, Nuala Nolan of the Galway City Council encouraged all government bodies to pursue a paperless system. She went on to touch upon the benefits of the system that she experiences while working for a medical facility.
By getting rid of paper-based processes, she explained that it frees up front-end staff to handle more essential services. Imagine being in the emergency room and needing to ask an ill patient about their mother's maiden name and what medications they are on, instead of treating them.
"This is 21st century IT. It means that people get to do the job they are educated and trained for as all internal data systems would be linked up," Nolan wrote. "No doubt in the cases of hospital care lives would be saved as warning systems could be keyed in at each stage of the patients treatment once he or she enters the hospital door."
She continued and touched upon improving efficiency and saving money, not only on paper and ink costs, but also on external storage space.
By partnering with a document scanning and management service, any medical facility can take Nolan's advice and start implementing a paperless strategy in a smart way.
In many instances, businesses have been too slow to adopt the latest solutions until an emergency arises and makes it the only logical option. This can be the case when a business has too many files and suddenly finds itself struggling to stay organized.
This was the argument that Matt Peterson, the CEO of Lehi, Utah-based eFileCabinet, made in a recent Atlantic Journal-Constitution guest column. He mentioned that even with the vast array of technology advancements over the last three decades, worldwide paper consumption has risen 50 percent.
Despite this, going paperless is a more efficient practice and allows companies to be more profitable. Peterson estimates that companies are able to take on 20 percent more business because of the time and space that has been saved with a digital approach. Getting rid of the clutter is the first major step and 80 percent of what is put into a document management solution will come from scanned documents.
"Changing your office from a paper-based to a paperless enterprise creates efficiencies you haven't been realizing to this point," Peterson wrote. "Efficiencies that lead to higher profits such as less labor time in searching and retrieving client information as well as improved customer service due to quicker response time."
He adds that there is still some confusion when it comes to certain elements from a paperless society, like the legality of documents that are signed in a digital format. However, with the right document management software, an e-signature is just as good as grabbing a pen and signing on the dotted line.
Businesses should not be afraid of a paperless approach. Instead, they should partner with a document scanning and management firm and get started going digital.
While many companies are debating the idea of incorporating a paperless office solution into daily operations, others have already implemented some form of the system and are reaping the benefits. Small and mid-sized businesses are beginning to see the different ways that larger corporation have experimented with digital solutions, and the adoption is trickling down.
A report by PayStream found that electronic invoicing and automated workflow are improving the accounts payable processes of many businesses. Overall adopting rates are increasing and more companies strive to migrate from a manual paper-based invoice system to an automated one.
"In an effort to streamline the accounts payable process, more companies are adopting automation solutions," the reports said. "Electronic invoicing and automated workflow are both experiencing increased adoption, as more companies strive to migrate from a manual paper-based invoice system to an efficient automated system."
The study found that 76 percent of respondents credit a sped up workflow process as the top benefits to going paperless. Lower processing costs, at 60 percent, and increased employee productivity ,50 percent, round out the top three.
The study also points out that one of the biggest deterrents of a paperless system is the uncertainty surrounding ROI, but these numbers make that stance harder and harder to defend.
By partnering with a document scanning and management service, businesses of any size can find an experienced partner to help them create an automotive system. Companies can start getting rid of the stacks of paper that are slowing down cost too much to maintain.
There are a number of different factors that businesses need to consider when they look into changing a traditional strategy. Costs and work efficiency concerns are sure to monopolize a majority of the conversation, but it is far from the only thing that companies should examine before investing.
For example, how well employees embrace a new system is crucial to its overall success. If a new communication system will save you thousands of dollars your workers are reluctant to use it, it's up to the company to partner with a solution provider that will ease the implementation process. A similar issue is happening with the adoption of a paperless office solution.
A recent Business 2 Community article examined the human element part of the equation that is causing companies to be reluctant to invest. One of the biggest hurdles is fear of the unknown.
"Storing a hard copy isn't necessarily a secure solution compared to backing it up in the cloud," the article reads. "But from a psychological perspective, printing out the physical document often feels comforting. If the document is stored in your office, you can see and touch the physical document."
With the right paperless office solution provider, workers will begin to see the value of abandoning paper documents in favor of their electronic counterparts.
An experienced document scanning and management company will show your workers how easy the system is to install and use. By partnering with an outside organization that understands the ins and outs of a paperless operation, it can be easier to quell the fears of employees that are on the fence.
While it seems like the use of digital documents is overtaking the business world, penetration is not as deep as some experts will have you believe. There are still a number of industries that rely on paperwork to handle daily operations.
A recent Property Casualty column looked at one of these sectors, the insurance industry. With a number of mortgage applications and appraisals to claim forms and third-party reports, paper is an important part of the marketplace and will be for years to come.
"Despite the fast-paced, technology-centered world in which we live, insurance is still a largely paper-based industry," the article reads. "While the use of tablets for data capture is on the rise, the use of paper by providers, partners, and customers is part of the lifeblood of almost any property & casualty insurance company."
However, just because many processes are still handled with paper, it does not mean businesses in the insurance sector should turn away from the latest innovation. Instead, there are ways that the company can still embrace the digital future and all the benefits that come with it.
The first step in the process is to implement a document scanning and management system. This will convert the stacks of paper files into a digital format that can be easily and quickly searched for by employees, instead of sifting through thousands of pages of paper. This also turns all of the information on the pages into data that can be analyzed and used to make smart business decisions.