There’s no doubt converting your files from paper to electronic saves — saves space (less to store), saves time (with better access) and ultimately money (through increased efficiency). But the process doesn’t happen overnight, and planning is the most important step if you want to get all of the benefits of document conversion and imaging.
In this 3-Part series, we’ll help you plan the imaging process. In Part 1, we walk you through assessing your documents and the outsourcing vs. in-house decision. Part 2 will focus on workflow, tracking and file auditing while Part 3 covers the end of the scanning process, from auditing to document availability.
And because the resources and expertise needed for conversion are generally beyond the capacity of most businesses, the information provided here is also intended to give you the knowledge you need to select the right records management partner to help with your conversion.
1. Assess your documents
You can save a lot of time and money by examining and identifying which of your documents need to be stored as electronic files.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
- You must analyze your records retention requirements before the imaging project starts to avoid destroying documents before they are scheduled. This analysis will also prevent unnecessarily scanning documents that are ready for destruction.
- Retrieval patterns should also be examined to see how frequently certain documents are accessed and to fit that into future workflows.
- While paper documents can be easily secured by placing then in a restricted access space, this changes when the same documents are converted. You will have to examine the contents of all sensitive and confidential documents that will be available through imaging and design a set of procedures to control access to these documents.
- Over time, files may come to contain several copies of the same document or material. This redundant material needs to be identified before the conversion starts. At that point, you can either destroy these documents or separate them from other documents in the file that need to be imaged. Purging files of all unnecessary information reduces the volume of paper that needs to be stored as well as the overall cost of conversion.
2. Outsourcing or in-house?
Deciding where the conversion will occur is critical. You can outsource the project to a professional records management company, you can do it on site, or combine the two. So how do you decide?
The nature of the files you’re converting will dictate this.
The main considerations:
- The volume of the collection to be converted
- The security required for those documents
- The physical condition of those documents
Once you’ve carefully examined the files that will be converted, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need in terms of project, pace, equipment and staff, and this will greatly impact the initial decision of whether to outsource.
This is the first in a series of blogs on planning a document conversion. Look for Blog #2 on workflow, tracking and file auditing, coming soon!