When state governments enacted stay at home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, the need for digital files skyrocketed. While many companies were already making a transition to paperless offices or had formal work from home policies, there some that were still relying heavily on paper.
As a document scanning and management company, we’ve seen a large interest in digitizing files in three areas: human resources, mailrooms, and microfilm records. These three departments are rapidly digitizing, no matter what the industry. This makes sense as all of these areas require timeliness, privacy, and accessibility for their records.
Let’s get into why these areas are seeing such a demand in digitizing.
1. Digitizing Human Resource Records and Processes
Human Resources is by far the most common area where businesses are scanning their records. We’ve spoken with industry peers across the country and they are also seeing a huge demand in human resources scanning.
And really, this makes a lot of sense. Human Resources is heavily dependent on paper and information. They require lots of processes and approvals for a variety of daily functions. When offices closed, they didn’t have access to their filing cabinets. But employees still needed to perform essential functions like hiring and onboarding. Having all existing and incoming personnel paperwork digitial enables the HR employee to work productively even while remote.
Here at Datamation we’ve seen a large increase in web traffic and calls about scanning HR files. Some are smaller companies that previously relied on paper-based processes. However, most are large companies with multiple offices that absolutely need virtual access and digital routing of personnel records. Without the ability to access their records virtually, HR employees are heading to the office to access records. Depending on the company, this can require management clearance, an exception to the remote work policy, and an office cleaning. Not to mention it can possibly compromise the employee’s health and safety.
2. Incoming Mailroom Processing and Scanning
Even if your employees aren’t in the office because of COVID-19, your mail is still heading there. As many companies don’t want to compromise the health of an employee, or need to make cuts due to the current recession, they’re looking to outsource their mailroom.
The process is simple: incoming is mail is picked up or routed to a scanning company (like us!) or sent to a P.O. Box managed by the third-party company. The company opens, scans, and indexes the mail by the intended recipient. After that, the digital images are uploaded to an FTP site so the company can download the images and process them accordingly, or a cloud-based document management system so each user can access their own mail independently.
Receiving your mail digitally enforces privacy. It also ensures quick document delivery to remote workers for prompt processing. Businesses need to receive about 50 pieces of mail per day to really see the benefit, but it’s simple to implement and cost-effective.
3. Scanning and Digitizing Microfilm and Microfiche
One of the most surprising things has been the increase in demand for microfilm scanning. While converting microfilm and microfiche to digital is one of our standard services, we’ve seen organizations of all sizes and industries reach out about digitizing this type of media.
This is because so many more people are working remotely and can’t access the microfilm and appropriate reader equipment at the office. For any company that was considering a conversion but wasn’t quite ready to make the investment, the pandemic reshuffled their priorities.
Records on microfilm and microfiche are generally archival in nature, so they don’t need to be accessed that often. But when they do (for example: when needing to check a 45-year-old life insurance policy or a 57-year-old student record), someone still has to go find the right piece of fiche or roll of film and then use antiquated equipment to find the right cell. Digitizing these records doesn’t just mean instant access at home—it also means that you never have to use a microfilm reader again.
Digitizing these records also increases their privacy. You can lock a digital file in a content management system with a password and/or user permissions so only those with the proper access can see it.
Finally, converting film and fiche to digital images means that the data will be around forever. Despite early claims that microfilm and microfiche could last for hundreds of years, much of it has started to degrade.
Other In-Demand Applications for Document Scanning
These three areas have seen a huge increase in digital files, but those aren’t the only places. Here are a few other applications for document imaging that we’ve worked on over the past few months:
- Customer Service: With customer service employees working from home, they don’t have access to customer files in an office filing cabinet or on a server. Virtual access allows them to maintain a high level of customer service while working remotely.
- Contracts: Storing contracts on a content management system allows for secure sharing. Proper approval parties can receive contracts via workflow. A system can keep all versions of this document without any kind of physical copy.
- Tax Records: Sales tax, payroll tax, state tax, tax exemption and other large tax records frequently require office access to see these records. This is especially true in the event of an audit. Now employees and auditors alike can access these files remotely.
- Legal Files: Virtual access to legal files provides fast access and more time for lawyers to perform billable services.
- Accounting: Many companies are either outsourcing their accounts payable or using an in-house system where invoices can be digitized, and key data extracted so that their system can then automatically receive, route, and pay invoices.
The demand for digital files and these applications has increased this year. And it’s unlikely this will end when the COVID-19 pandemic does. Workplaces have been trending digital for the last few decades, and this was simply a push to accelerate the process. With fewer costs, more productivity, and less needed office space, there are so many benefits from having your records digitized and on a document management system.