How Document Scanning and ImageSilo® Boost Efficiency
Are you in control of your paper? Or are your documents in chaos?
Many office managers say that more often than not, they and their staff are bogged down under mountains of paper. Even when a document is born digital, it’s often printed and included in a paper file, making the paper mountain even higher (and the data you need even harder to find).
What’s more amazing is that even with those “born digital” files, many offices rely solely on the printed, filed version rather than the electronic one, because no consistent digital archiving method exists within the company.
We see two problems in paper-filled offices:
1. The Archiving Problem
Paper files, especially when accumulated over a long period of time, require a lot of physical storage space. Additionally, paper files are not secure; are easily lost or misplaced; and, are subject to age deterioration. The need to scan or print documents when data is extracted from the paper files (for tax audits, contract reviews, signatures, etc.) is time consuming and potentially expensive. For this reason, it is always best to choose the archive format that requires the least amount of future printing or scanning.
Some firms who want to convert to paperless systems opt to leaving existing archives in paper format while all new files are stored in electronic archives. Sometimes this method works, but often it causes additional problems, such as the need to document which files are paper and which are electronic. Moreover, maintaining paper files, regardless of the reason, tends to reduce any efficiencies achieved by electronic systems.
We like to point out that electronic files generally require little space and electronic archived files are more easily incorporated into new electronic processes and systems, a fact that is especially important for companies who need to refer back to older files on a regular basis.
2. The Processes Problem
Processes are, quite simply, the way we get our work done on a daily basis. We frequently use the processes that are fairly standard with simple transactions in an Accounts Payable department as an example: (1) Invoices arrive in different formats (paper by snail-mail, PDF email attachment, a link within an email, etc); (2) Invoices are “processed” for payment by directing them to the correct A/P clerk, who matches them with POs and gets appropriate approvals, cuts the check, mails the check and files the copies.
Processes, when handled via paper, are inefficient, time consuming and error-prone.
A Real Life Example
The Problem: One biotechnology company that has a team of more than a dozen individuals who manage the accounts payable needs of its subsidiaries and offices. Strict attention to detail and responsiveness to requests dominates department objectives, because the account payable team manages thousands of individual documents and transactions daily. They also respond to audit requests for both internal and external customers.
Prior to the implementation of ImageSilo, the department was plagued with an excess of paper documents. Keeping up with the documents required a significant portion time from the full-time staff, as well as the services of a temporary employee.
Because so many people handled the documents, it was difficult to find records. Everyone interpreted the filing system differently, so records were often misfiled and rarely made it back to their proper position once pulled for an audit.
In addition to the cumbersome filing and retrieval processes, the physical space needed to maintain over half a million documents each year kept growing. With more than forty file cabinets occupying the filing room, the AP department began negotiating with other departments for space in unused offices and even hallways. Additional boxes of files and records were contracted for storage with a third party storage provider making them even more difficult and expensive to retrieve.
The Solution: The paper documents were scanned and uploaded into ImageSilo, a cloud-based document and content management system. Now, with documents housed on ImageSilo, every AP employee has secure access to any document from their desktop computer via the internet. The extensive and fast searching capabilities of ImageSilo make it easy to find the correct document, so the staff spends far less time searching for the data they need. Documents don’t get lost and workflow processes virtually eliminate errors.
ImageSilo leaves the Accounts Payable department free to focus on their core business rather than managing a complex manual filing system.
Free from the mountains of paper files, the AP department has recognized tremendous benefits from the conversion to electronic document management using ImageSilo. As expected, the conversion has freed expensive physical office space to be put to more effective uses, and has improved department efficiency.
With no software to install and the bulk of the scanning and indexing services handled by a scanning service, the conversion from their paper files to electronic document management took less than a single day of training.
All fourteen employees in the Accounts Payable department use ImageSilo on a daily basis to manage documents, process invoices, and respond to audit requests. In addition, dozens of other employees across the globe access files on an as-needed basis.
So, how much more accessible is this critical business information? In a recent incident, the US Government requested a copy of invoices paid to a certain account over the last two years. Where the research process would have taken several people weeks to sort out and copy in the past, the request was completed in fewer than two weeks by a single department employee. In addition, 100% of the necessary documents were obtained and forwarded to the Government. Results from pre-ImageSilo audits averaged between 5-10% lost or misplaced documents that were unattainable.
The company is also saving money on third-party document storage and retrieval. The AP records are now instantly accessible at the moment a need arises. Records can be viewed, emailed, and printed directly in the system. Best of all, as the organization grows through acquisitions, the companies’ accounting systems can be merged into a single system almost seamlessly. The acquired company’s records are simply scanned into the ImageSilo system and are immediately accessible for review and auditing purposes.