Document Management for Legacy Documents
Legacy documents include all of the important records that every business must retain – records like incorporation papers, tax returns, partnership agreements, contracts, and other legal documents that need to be preserved and maintained for business continuity and corporate history. Many of these documents are maintained as paper files, taking up space, risking deterioration, and sometimes proving to be difficult to find in old filing systems.
While there are paper storage companies that are dedicated to the premise that paper storage can be safe, secure and permanent, the truth is that paper is paper and it does deteriorate. Not only that, but paper document storage takes up huge amounts of space, and the physical real estate needed to store paper can be costly.
That’s why we recommend document scanning and conversion to a universally accepted file format that is not software or hardware dependent. TIFF and PDF head the list of preferred document formats. These file formats are easily handled by most Electronic Document Management (EDM) systems, as well as being able to be opened and viewed with relatively unsophisticated computer systems. In addition, they are permanent, that is not readily altered in their PDF or TIFF state. In order to be revised, those file types need to be converted into some other format and saved as a new file, so revision control is simple.
While most businesses can see the wisdom of scanning their legacy documents, many have difficulty deciding what to do with them once they’re scanned. That’s why we discuss post-scanning options with all of our customers before we even start the scanning process. We know that there’s no real advantage to going from paper chaos to digital chaos. And, we know that the right EDM system can make all the difference in the world to the customer.
Scan to the Cloud? Or Scan to a Server?
If you’re looking at EDM systems for your document management, then you’ve probably talked to vendors that offer you two different options for your EDM storage – in the Cloud; or on your own Server. Let’s look at the more traditional of these options first…your own Server.
>>>Scan to Server – this is the option where you purchase the server, purchase the EDM software and you maintain it at your own location and access it via your own internal network.
At first glance this looks very desirable, especially for business owners who like the sense of control that this provides them. Everything is where they can see it, touch it, and know that it’s there. You own the hardware and software. You can even customize your system, so that it looks the way you want it to and operates the way you want it to. Bottom line – it’s yours, with all the benefits of ownership.
But, ownership also means that you’re responsible for installing it, maintaining it, upgrading it, and making sure that it’s accessible when you need it. Since everything resides within your corporate walls, you’re also responsible for back up and disaster recovery. Usually this means the expense of hiring full-time in-house IT personnel.
>>>Scan to the Cloud – this is the option that offers an alternative to an outright purchase of all the equipment and software and eliminates the needf for installation and ongoing maintenance and upgrades. The cloud vendor owns the servers and the software and assumes all of the maintenance, service, upgrades, back-up and redundancy. There is little or no set-up or installation time, since all you do is activate your account and start loading your documents into the cloud.
Generally, a professional document scanning company can assist with this process. They will have top-of-the-line, high tech scanning equipment which can scan and digitize tens of thousands of documents daily, thus providing you with digital files quickly. Many also offer cloud EDM solutions, so they can scan to the cloud for you.
One thing you will want to find out is how your data is segregated from other client data. Are you using a single instance of the software with your data, known as “hosted” or “ASP”? Or do all clients access the same software, while only their data is kept partitioned, known as “SaaS” (Software as a Service)?
Generally, the former will be more expensive for the vendor to maintain, because each instance of the software is maintained and upgraded individually, so the EDM service will cost you, the client, more. With SaaS, the single version of software is maintained and upgraded for all clients at once, so it is less expensive for the vendor, and this savings is passed on to you. One of the biggest customer advantages of SaaS is the easy and rapid scalability it affords each client, with the obvious benefit of paying only for what you need, when you need it.
What’s Right for You?
For many companies, SaaS/Cloud software is the obvious answer – it’s fast, it’s economical, it’s scalable, and it’s safe. If you’re going to use a cloud solution, go with a major Cloud EDM provider to ensure best in breed standards. Cloud providers like ImageSilo® have layers of back-up servers and security, strong architecture and a dedicated staff of engineers and developers that ensure reliability. Additionally, you and your authorized employees have access to the data you need 24/7, from anywhere, anytime. Most companies find that the ability to collaborate and work online are huge advantages.
Despite the many advantages of Cloud EDM, some businesses may need to maintain their data locally, either because of government regulations, such as the Patriot Act, or other limiting factors.
Regardless of which type of EDM is right for you, scanning your legacy data is the place to start.