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Imaging in Review: Managing Space by Managing Documents

Imaging in Review: Managing Space by Managing Documents

Here at NOS we are big proponents of managing space by managing documents.

We’ve been talking about the benefits of document imaging for quite some time. Here’s a recap of our top stories from this year.

  • Are Your Documents Future-Proof?  Digital conversion of paper documents offers valuable cost-saving benefits, but it takes the right imaging tech to truly future-proof your documents.

When you digitize your documents, you will:

  • Improve information security
  • Enhance accessibility
  • Simplify compliance
  • Increase sustainability
  • Save space

There’s really no downside. Talk to a document imaging expert and begin benefiting from better document management.

 

Photo © wladimir1804 / AdobeStock

Law Firms: Are You Hoarders?

Law Firms: Are You Hoarders?

No one wants their place of business to look like an episode of the television show “Hoarders.” However, the practice of law can reinforce tendencies to hold on to any and all documents. “You never know; we might need them some day.” By its very nature, the law looks to past events in order to determine relationships in the present and the future. Precedent is everything. And precedent relies on records, many of them on paper.

Lately, law firms have been accelerating their transformation from paper-based to digital practices – electronic files, digital workflows, and online applications. They are working hard to reduce the amount of paper in their offices. But mass quantities of physical documents are still stored offsite.

And those archived paper records create unnecessary costs, in terms of time and storage space.

  • How much time is required to search for documents in off-site storage?
  • How much time is required to visually review and research the information in those documents?
  • What percentage of overhead is spent on off-site storage?

When those stored documents are digitized, they become instantly searchable – no more digging through boxes and poring over multiple pages. And instead of taking up many bulky boxes, five million digitized pages fit on one small external hard drive.

This is not to say that every document should be imaged. Properly managed, the document conversion process includes a thorough document assessment.  Certain documents should be retained as paper. Some should be scanned, then shredded. Still others don’t have enough value to warrant the cost of digitizing.

An assessment of stored documents lets records managers determine which documents should be digitized and which should be destroyed. Even digitized documents may be destroyed once their digital versions have been confirmed and backed up. The goal is to store paper versions of only those few documents that must be kept in their original medium.

It’s tempting to just hang on to every piece of paper that comes through the office, but a law practice full of hoarders is a really inefficient operation. Law firms that price themselves on efficiency will find additional efficiencies if they digitize many of their stored documents.

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Are Your Documents Future-Proof?

Are Your Documents Future-Proof?

“Prediction is difficult – particularly when it involves the future.” Attributed to Mark Twain, this statement perfectly captures the dilemma faced by business organizations every day. Business documents need to preserved, some for a short time, some for a longer term, some forever. And when those documents are paper, the choice of preservation format demands special attention.

Paper is an ancient technology, and writing is a universal format. The format is still readable  after hundreds, even thousands of years, and it will be so into the future. For some documents, paper is the obvious choice for long-term information preservation: deeds, contracts, and health records, for example.

But paper records have certain disadvantages:

  1. Susceptible to loss, deterioration, or destruction – fire, insects, humidity, filing errors, and pilfering make paper inherently risky. Guarding against these risks is expensive.
  2. Bulky – the average business today spends 3% of its revenue on paper costs, according to research company Gartner. Document storage is a significant part of those costs.
  3. Labor intensive – filing paper documents, searching for filed documents, and disposing of outdated documents requires many person-hours of labor. And labor costs are only going up.

At NOS, we have been recommending document imaging to our clients for some years. Imaging makes a digital version of a paper document. The digital version has all of the advantages of any digital file: searchable, shareable, secure, space-saving, sustainable. Even if you retain your paper documents after imaging, you’re avoiding many of the disadvantages of paper-only records.

But imaging – a far newer technology than paper – can have pitfalls for the unwary. One thing that is certain about the digital future: It’s guaranteed to change. How many people still play CDs in their cars? Still have a laser disk player? Still use floppy disks? Have even seen a floppy disk?

Rapid obsolescence of digital technology can be a disaster for businesses. When an organization images its documents to a format that isn’t future-proof, it has set itself up for the loss of vital information. An obsolete digital format is just like a fire destroying paper documents; the information is gone.

To guard against the consequences of digital obsolescence:

  • Talk to peers who have gone through a digital conversion process.
  • Consult with a vendor who has an extensive track record in the field; they will steer you toward a future-proof imaging format.
  • Practice good digital hygiene by updating software and converting files to newer format standards in a timely manner.

Another quote from Mark Twain: “Plan for the future because that’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life.” And that goes for your business documents too.

Photo © wewi-creative / AdobeStock

Two Ways to Make Sure You Never Lose Another Document

Two Ways to Make Sure You Never Lose Another Document

If you’re using paper documents in your business, it’s inevitable that one day, a vital document will go missing. Maybe you’ve already discovered just how much it costs when you misplace or lose a paper document. The well-known Pricewaterhouse Coopers study on paper in the workplace showed some expensive consequences:

  1. The average labor cost to find a missing document is $120.
  2. The average cost of reproducing a single lost or destroyed document is $220.
  3. The average professional spends 5-15% of their time reading documents, but up to 50% of their time looking for documents. (What’s your time worth?)

Those costs are just the tip of the paper-document iceberg. Consider the cost of space to file paper documents, the security issues that come with the loss of confidential documents, the less tangible but very real cost of lost brand trust when you can’t find documents a client has entrusted to you.

Here are two proven technologies that change the negative math associated with paper documents.

  • Document Imaging

Converting paper documents via imaging (scanning) creates digital files from physical documents. The files are secure, remotely accessible, and searchable. No longer are documents accidentally destroyed or thrown out. They don’t get misfiled, or fall into the wrong hands. They are “findable” – specific documents or content can be located, accessed, and used with electronic speed.

And once your business converts its paper documents, it can convert the former storage space into more productive space.

  • RFID Document Tagging

RFID is best known as an inventory tool for warehousing and retail. Now it is used to keep track of everything from artworks to medications, from books to personnel. Doorway readers register the movement of RFID-tagged items in and out of rooms, showing their whereabouts in real time. Paper manufacturers have started producing printer paper with embedded RFID tags, allowing original paper documents to be tracked from office to office, from desk to file cabinet, or from an office into a client’s hands.

Very few businesses can operate without some paper documents. With RFID-embedded paper, keeping track of a document is simple, secure, and accurate.

Add these two technologies – imaging and RFID – to your business operations, and save the high cost of lost paper documents.

 

Photo © James Thew / AdobeStock

Decision Math: Calculating the Cost of In-House Document Imaging

Decision Math: Calculating the Cost of In-House Document Imaging

Decision math is something business managers use every day. There’s nothing like cold, hard, inarguable math to help decision-makers who are faced with multiple solutions. Decision math lets you analyze and compare the costs associated with each solution, and choose accordingly. Straightforward, right? But it can be trickier than it seems, especially when comparing in-house processes versus outsourcing. When it comes to highly complex processes like document imaging, the equation factors are far-ranging.

First, take a look at your resources:

  • Office space – Do you have sufficient room for the imaging equipment, the personnel, and the workflow? Or will you need to spend money on extra space?
  • Materials – Do you already have scanners, servers, and software license subscriptions, or will you have to procure those?
  • Labor – Do you have trained personnel you can deploy for a major imaging project, or will you need to hire and train additional staff? If it’s the latter, what is the current labor market?
  • Time – Do you have an unlimited time horizon for your imaging project, or is there a need to complete it sooner rather than later?

If there are resources lacking in any area, calculate the costs of eliminating the deficiencies. Add those costs up.

Then consider your utilization. Is this a quarterly archiving project? A project to convert a warehouse of old documents? A high-volume every-work-day process? And what is the likelihood of relatively quick equipment and software obsolescence?

Continuous full-time utilization is, of course, the most cost-efficient. Idle resources cost money. Most imaging projects, however, are infrequent.

And finally, your mission. Unless you’re in the document business, your business mission is something other than piles of paper. Distractions slow down achievement. What does it cost your business to lose focus, even temporarily?

So… is it a good decision to pay for everything above — additional space, increased head count, expensive equipment and software licenses, and loss of focus – for an infrequent project?

That’s a rhetorical question, of course. Every enterprise is different, and each one has its own unique volume of documents for imaging. But for the great majority of businesses, outsourcing your document imaging is always the right answer.

 

Photo © luckybusiness / AdobeStock

Document Imaging Works For All: WFH, Hybrid, or Fulltime In-Office

Document Imaging Works For All: WFH, Hybrid, or Fulltime In-Office

It’s no secret that the nature of office work has been permanently changed by the covid pandemic. WFH has been confirmed as a viable alternative to large, expensive in-person offices. Hybrid offices have evolved into a productive balance of part-time WFH and well-scheduled in-office work. And for workers and managers who rely on in-person collaboration, new office designs are making it safe to work together again.

Flexibility is the new standard for the post-covid office. And that flexibility includes a variety of technologies, with employers providing:

  • High speed internet and home office furnishings, for the WFH work model;
  • Collaboration and scheduling software to manage work time and location, for the hybrid workplace;
  • Safety-conscious touchless technology controlling entry, lighting, and climate, for the fulltime in-person office.

Some of these technologies overlap workstyles. For example, both WFH tech and in-person office tech fit well in the hybrid office. But there is one technology that is common to every workplace model: document imaging.

Document imaging supports productivity in any workplace.

  • In the in-person office, imaged documents save valuable space, letting managers convert document storage space into additional room for safely-spaced workstations.
  • In the WFH office, imaged documents can be accessed from anywhere, keeping productivity high even when physical documents aren’t accessible.
  • In the hybrid workplace, imaged documents support collaboration whether in person or remotely.

As employers seek to fill post-pandemic jobs, workers have a new-found leverage to state their preference for WFH, hybrid, or fulltime office work. The Harvard Business Review states that today’s recruiting challenges won’t be solved by the solutions of the past. Adjusting salaries to the cost of living, recruiting overlooked talent like older workers, and setting up satellite offices to reduce commutes all make it easier to recruit and retain top talent.

But for employees and employers to be successful, the workplace technology should be matched to the preferred workplace model. And for all workplace models, document imaging technology is a productive match.

Photo © mavoimages / AdobeStock