Electronic records are simply the computerized versions of traditional paper-based records, which are supposed to be stored for long term or short term. Records that entail long term storage require their contents to be preserved digitally, in indexed format, to make the search and access processes easy. Proper storage helps to manage records effectively over time and ensures their survival and accessibility, till the time they are required.
Recent reports say that, the Central New Mexico Community College (CNMCC) is implementing electronic record management system, to digitally preserve around 4000 paper-based records that are required to be retained for up to 55 years. The proposal was made in 2007, and until now seven departments have completed digitization. The proposal includes guidelines on how the document scanning or document imaging process has to be handled. It also contains details on other actions to be undertaken such as organizing files before scanning, the retention and security of the files, and many more.
Saving Physical Storage Space with Digital Storage
Paper-based documents would become redundant once they are scanned in to CNMCC’s system. If the proposal goes according to the imaging plan, then the unwanted paper documents can be shredded to free up the storage space and associated storage costs.
However, a digital documentation system is not complete without human intervention. Human intervention is necessary to ensure safety, security, and compliance regulations. Here are some useful tips to ensure accuracy and compliance regulations with digital documents.
- While running through the scanner, a document will pick up a lot of background stuff. The accuracy of the scanned document should be ensured by comparing it with the original paper document, before shredding the paper document.
- States typically set deadlines for how long the paper and electronic documents should be maintained.
- In order to meet compliance objectives, it is necessary to determine who all have the right to access a particular record and for what purpose. Retention and purging should be done at the proper time and by experienced employees.
As part of record management, it is important to determine where the records are to be stored. General options for storage include:
Online:- The system allows online storage of data with the support of well-connected networks. It includes storage area networks to access remote drives, collection of disks for backup data storage such as Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks (RAID), and cloud computing.
Near-line:- In near-line storage, the data is stored in a system that is not done a direct part of your network. File access is done through an automated process that selects the correct file from the location and makes it accessible.
Offline:- Those files that are not required to be frequently accessed can be stored offline. It can be stored with removable media like external hard drives or magnetic tape.
Digitized documents and records are far more secure than paper-based documents, which can be lost, damaged, or misfiled. With electronic systems, it is possible to grant or restrict user access, create audit trails, easily retrieve documents, and set document retention alerts. Such a system can comply with regulations regarding security, access and retention of paper documents.
Electronic documents/records management and imaging solutions offer huge advantages not only to education institutions, but also to any organization that prefers a structured workflow and improved flexibility in operations.