If your company is like most, then you have sections of your office just dedicated to storing records. It could be in dozens of filing cabinets, the basement, an entire records room, or stacks of drawings in long drawers. Maybe it’s in all of those. But there’s something that can help: document scanning.
By scanning your documents into digital files, you unlock some serious benefits for your organization. Let’s go over some.
1. More Space in Your Office
It’s a little obvious, but if you don’t have boxes and filing cabinets all over your office, you can reclaim and reuse that square footage. With your paper documents scanned and stored on a server or the cloud, you will probably find that you have more room in your office than you thought.
This means room for a new employee, lounge area, or collaborative workspace. It means no more boxes tucked under desks, which can be a fire hazard. It could also mean that you may not need to move to a new location for more space. (Though if you are moving, make sure that you grab our free office moving checklist!)
Just think of how impressive and sleek your office will look without bulky filing cabinets and boxes all over the place!
2. Easier Access to Your Files
An AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) survey found that on average, it takes 37 minutes to find a paper copy of a document in a filing cabinet. Those are 37 minutes that could be spent helping a customer, making a sale, or improving the company, but instead, they’re being used to locate a single document.
Now imagine you have to go find five records per day–that’s over three hours lost to searching that could’ve been used to do…honestly, anything else.
But when you scan your records and store them digitally, this search time is essentially eliminated. Your or your employee simply needs to go into your content management system, perform a simple search, and the information they need will be right there. And depending on what kind of system you use, this can be accessed from almost anywhere.
Best of all? If you scan your documents, oversized maps/drawings, and your microfilm, all of these can be accessed from the same place. This means you only have to do one or two searches to find what previously would’ve been a long trip to the different storage areas.
3. Increased Security
You may store your records under lock and key, but are they really as safe as they could be? Filing cabinets and records rooms can be left unlocked and is there anything really stopping someone from just looking around?
A great thing about digital documents is that they have better permissions and security. If you use a cloud-based system, everything will be stored there, and users will need to have the right permissions to see information. A history log will also be created so that you can see exactly who looked at what document. Another pro of a good cloud-based system is that data is backed up regularly and monitored 24/7.
If your business prefers to keep things in-house, your IT department can set up permissions to certain sections of the server or content system.
4. Easier Audits and Compliance
Compliance is always a concern, which could be how you ended up with so many boxes of files in the first place. You know that certain documents need to be kept for a certain amount of time, but unless your organization has a strict retention policy approved by your legal counsel, you might not know what that time frame is for every single document.
We always recommend creating and sticking to a retention policy to keep your files streamlined. And when your documents have been scanned, it’s easy to keep things organized without having to deal with unending paper in your office.
Having an audit soon? When you have your information digitized and in a centralized location, you can respond quickly to auditor requests.
Hey, there might be a desk under here that you can use!
5. Better Data Preservation
As great as rare books and old documents are for research purposes, you also don’t want to handle them too much. By scanning these historical items, along with any record that is important but getting fragile from age, you’ll preserve this information digitally. No matter what kind of research you, an employee, a customer, or patron does, you won’t need to worry about them handling delicate materials.
Digital files also keep your information safe in the (hopefully unlikely) case of a fire, flood, or other natural disaster.
6. Backup and Disaster Recovery
Speaking of natural disasters, we all hope that they don’t happen, but unfortunately, there are no guarantees. For most small businesses hit by a natural disaster, they never recover. Scanning your files should be part of your business continuity plan.
By digitizing your files and storing them in a cloud-based document management system (or having a backup in an off-site server), you can bounce back from disaster with minimal disruption for your clients. Electronic documents mean that if you’re recovering from a disaster, you can get all the required files to your insurance company or the government quickly.
This is a good option even if you don’t have a full-blown disaster. You should have a digital backup, stored on the cloud or off-site, for your important financial documents, licenses, permits, tax information, and anything essential to run your business. Digital files mean that your information is safe even if you have some minor flooding or fire.
7. Increased Productivity and Efficiency
Just as scanning improves accessibility, it also improves the productivity and efficiency of your employees. Instead of losing time going to the records room, they can just do a quick search, find the information, and get on with their job. Imagine how much better you can serve customers by quickly pulling up and emailing information instead of having to put them on a hold while you rummage around in a cabinet.
Scanned records are also great because multiple employees can access the same document at the same time. No longer will they have to run around looking if someone else has the file that they need.
Also, should you decide to have someone else scan your files, you won’t have to worry about spending your staff’s time on prepping, scanning, and indexing those files.
8. Save Money
One of the easiest benefits to see is the reduction in costs related to paper documents. With your documents scanned, you don’t have to spend money on storing them (onsite or offsite), you don’t need to habitually purchase boxes or filing cabinets, and you won’t need to pay for the costs associated with printing and mailing records.
No matter where or how you store your records offsite, there’s some kind of flat cost associated per month. This doesn’t include any kind of moving, administrative, or destruction fees. Scanning your backfiles and all documents going forward will nearly eliminate these storage costs.
Now, you may ask, “What about the cost to host files on the cloud?” While there will be a cost associated with that, retention rules can be created to immediately delete documents or reminders set up to nudge you to clean out the documents you no longer need. This ensures that you’re only paying for what you need and nothing more.
We just covered increased efficiency, but it’s worth stating again. With valuable time opened up, your employees can do more for the company. This means you may not have to hire temporary workers or replace the next person who leaves.
There you have it: eight benefits your company will realize when you scan your documents. The thought of no more paper-filled boxes or filing cabinets and all these benefits has to sound appealing, right?
This post is part of the Datamation Guide to Document Scanning.