10 Top Reasons for Document Scanning (in the new economy)
Document scanning and use of digital documents is more important than ever. As the economy continues to improve and businesses grow, the labor market tightens. Growth and change mean more paper coming in and out of your company; more data to track. But the tight labor market means fewer available employees to do the work.
Digital document management, workflow automation and cloud access to information and data make it possible to be more productive without adding new hires.
If you’ve been procrastinating on going digital, now is the time to make your move. Position your company to reap the benefits of the new economy. Going from paper to digital brings these benefits:
- Preservation of Company Data – Even the smallest company has important records that must be preserved. Paper files are the least stable of all record forms. Microfiche and microfilm are more stable, but have fallen out of favor. Digital documents provide the greatest stability as well as ease of format conversion going forward.
- Easy Access and Distribution – Digital documents can be easily found via search functions, easily distributed electronically and they don’t need to be filed after each use.
- Improved collaboration -- Digital documents enable teams to work on projects across geographic areas by collaborating on single documents. Each scanned document becomes a living record that can be mined for valuable information and easily updated.
- Save Employee Time/Make Better Use of the Employees You Have – Employees waste a great deal of time looking for records. They can be on their desk or in the official company records. Electronic records are more easily found via search functions. Electronic records also don’t require time to file after they are used. You're able to process more tasks without additional hires.
- Meet Security Requirements – Privacy laws such as HIPAA and FACTA require businesses to keep control over individuals’ private information. Electronic document management systems can provide sophisticated methods of control and authorization for access.
- Better Compliance and Disclosure – Nearly every industry has compliance and disclosure regulations that require businesses to quickly find all relevant documents requested. Scanned documents make this process easy.
- More Certain Disaster Recovery – When was the last time you spilled coffee on your desk and ruined a paper document? Now, imagine the flooded basement that destroys all your company records. How would that affect your business? Scanned documents can be backed up to a remote server on a regular basis, virtually eliminating loss from burglary, flood, fire, and, yes, even the spilled cup of coffee.
- Reduction of Carbon Footprint – Cut back on paper and ink for printing. Electronic records also require less energy to store than climate controlled records storage facilities. Original paper documents can be shredded and recycled once they’ve been scanned and stored electronically.
- Better Use of Office Space – Millions of scanned documents can be stored in a server. To store a similar number of paper documents would require rooms and rooms of filing cabinets. As the economy improves, you can use your office space for activities that generate revenue, rather than for storage.
- Legality of Digital Documents – In the U.S., two major laws cover the requirements for documents in court. The first law is the Uniform Photographic Copies of Business and Public Records as Evidence Act which says that documents made by any “process which accurately reproduces or forms a durable medium for reproducing the original . . . is as admissible in evidence as the original itself.” This covers microfilm, photocopies, and digital images (scanned documents). The second rule that applies to digital records is The Uniform Rules of Evidence. It has been adopted by the United States federal courts along with most state courts. This allows duplicate records to be admissible “to the same extent as the original.” The rule stipulates that the copy “accurately reproduces the original.” Since a scanned document is just a picture it would qualify.
All of these benefits contribute to one additional and important reason for document scanning: Going digital with workflow automation saves money!
Green offices are more efficient. Employees in green offices are more productive. Storage costs are virtually eliminated. Your employees will be better positioned to help you take advantage of the vibrant economy, rather than wasting their time searching for paper documents.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.