Document scanning and imaging has become a priority for organizations looking to boost revenue, improve customer satisfaction and ensure customer retention. For the last few centuries, businesses have been following a paper-based document storage and management system. Now, in an increasingly digitized and mobile world, customers prefer real-time responses at all points of contact and this has made paper-based processes almost redundant. A consequence of this change in attitude is the increased demand for document conversion services. Businesses must consider their company information and records as a business asset and ensure that these are well-organized to enhance operational efficiency, support business development and improve customer relationship management.
The migration to electronic documents has to be done with great care to avoid data breaches, loss of information and legal action. When consolidating existing records and getting rid of unnecessary files, it is vital to implement efficient information destruction practices to avoid legal trouble. Deciding what files are unnecessary is also quite challenging because many documents such as employee records may be needed at a much later time if there is some legal action. A significant example is that of the South African mining industry – since the year 2012, 30 gold mining companies have been named in class action lawsuits involving more than 17,000 ex-gold miners suffering from silicosis, a lung disease. The allegation is that the defendant companies were very well aware of the dangers posed to the miners by exposure to silica dust. They failed to take proper measures to protect the workers from this exposure. This case is considered to be a historic one for the mining industry as well as for workers’ rights in South Africa. On 13 May 2016, South Africa’s High Court allowed the class action lawsuit. In a case such as this, it is very important that companies have quick access to the right employee records when they are requested by lawyers or courts, which can be ensured via digitizing old records.
Given the uncertainty regarding when certain old records may be needed, organizations can consider storing the archived physical documents offsite in strong storage facilities. Ideally, these should be located in low-risk places where exposure to floods, fires, flight paths, earthquakes or other natural disasters is minimal.
All stages of the document conversion process must be carefully and scrupulously managed to avoid any kind of data loss. An effective risk management program should also take into consideration the software used to create backup copies. It should allow data verification and encryption – this will help in ensuring integrity of the data by restricting access to data and maintaining rigorous authentication practices. Digital innovations include compression technology that helps reduce the backup file size. Businesses can truly boost productivity and revenue if it can also effectively manage the risk of converting its data.
It is expected that in the next three to five years electronic conversion of paper assets will become increasingly important and one of the major reasons for it would be the increased demand for process optimization and operational efficiency which no industry can avoid. The other reason is the change in document consumption as reflected in:
- The increasing popularity, sales and circulation of digital books.
- Increased use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets instead of desktops or laptops to access all types of content.
A report by Deloitte found that around 51% of people surveyed bought more eBooks than physical books. Majority of them found their eBooks on Amazon and 39% browsed its shelves. On the other hand, only 22% visit chain bookshops and just 7% of them looked to independent bookstores to find a good book.
So migration to an electronic document management system is inevitable. Here are three recommendations to keep in mind when making the transition.
- Avoid generating paper wherever possible by digitizing business processes using advanced technologies.
- If paper cannot be avoided, due to legal requirements or regulatory needs, those papers can be converted into digital form. The digital copies can be used for your needs and also preserved for a longer period of time without causing any damages, and accessed when necessary.
- Implement a digital library, a centralized archive for business-related documents, indexed and searchable for rapid and convenient retrieval of data.