Almost every organization, big or small, is now on the path towards digital transformation with the help of document scanning services with a view to improve workflow and productivity. Digitization of documents helps in arranging and organizing the documents systematically. As the business starts growing, the number of clients increases and the number of paper documents also increases which makes it important to digitize and store valuable information.
Managing huge volumes of documents is a major challenge for business organizations. They have to store emails, invoices, receipts and other documents in desks, cabinets and folders. Retrieving a document from this pile of documents is a tedious task. Organizing these documents is time consuming. This may hinder the workflow and also reduce the productivity of the organization. By digitizing, these documents can be accessed quickly and it also reduces the need for storage space in the organization. Digitization of documents helps in saving, storing and protecting the sensitive data. Digitized documents allow multiple access to documents from different locations and quick retrieval of information.
According to the latest research by AIIM – State of Information Management 2017 – only 24 percent of companies have adopted entirely digital process and for most companies there are situations where paper is preferred. Another problem is that many companies are against full digitization and replacement of paper-based process as it is a long-term process and not able to bring instant ROI. Many believe that digitization means just scanning of documents. But digitization comprises various steps and it is a complex process. Enterprises can gain significant benefits from digitization and the digitized files can be mailed, saved in a folder and searched with the help of keywords. Digitization of all critical documents will ensure a more automated digital workflow in the company.
In law offices, particularly paper use is still prominent to some extent due to the legal reasons for storing hard copy, particularly the consideration that electronic copies can be tampered with. Most state ethics committees agree that lawyers need not indefinitely keep client files. At the same time, most jurisdictions agree that clients and former clients expect that the valuable information in the lawyers’ files that may not be otherwise readily available to the clients, will not be carelessly and prematurely destroyed (ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility).
For instance, the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct (ORPC) requires that complete records of client account funds and other client property be kept for 5 years after termination of representation. The length of time that a file should be retained may depend on the contents of the file and/or the type of case.
- Real estate title opinions and title insurance work may require a far more lengthy retention.
- Files related to claims of minors must be kept until the child is beyond the age of majority and any statutes of limitations have expired.
- Certain files related to probate, estate and/or guardianship may have to be retained for an indeterminate period.
To be on the safe side, the decision should be based on various factors such as the nature of the case, client’s needs, statutes of limitations and substantive law. Lawyers should ideally consult his/her malpractice insurer for specific requirements it has regarding document retention.
This doesn’t mean that law firms shouldn’t scan their paper documents. If you have transformed into a paperless office, or trying to reduce the huge piles of paper, it is appropriate that you store your files electronically. Make it a point, though, to back up your files, and preferably let the backup copies be offsite. In that case, even if there is a computer failure, you can access your electronically stored information from elsewhere.
Law firms can choose to also keep certain hard copy documents they think necessary especially if they contain sensitive information, and digitize all documents in the office. This would make disaster recovery faster besides making it easier to access any file you need from anywhere. In addition digitization would reduce your overheads when paper is moved off-premise and stored in a safe location because you needn’t have a storage room in the office anymore.
Coming to the document conversion process itself, why is it best to obtain professional data conversion services? Many organizations that purchased equipment hoping to implement an in-house digitization solutions have abandoned those projects. Possible reasons are:
- Equipment malfunctions
- Failure to understand conversion techniques and processes
- Administrative constraints
- Lack of time to get the task done
Though in-house solutions are indeed possible, it would take considerable time, proper training of staff assigned to scanning, and investment in reliable technology. The important steps in document scanning and conversion include:
- Preparation of documents
- Scanning and conversion
- Image adjustment and verification
- Optical character resolution
- Data migration/merge
- File assembly
A reliable QA process should be implemented to ensure accuracy and quality. Mistakes, inaccuracies and deviations must be immediately addressed. Sometimes you may need to scan documents again for improved clarity. A professional document scanning company can help you with bulk document scanning for back file conversion, and also help you scan and store future files.