As our dependency on hardcopy paper files decreases, electronic document management systems offer various benefits.
Before the modern age of computers and the internet, the printing industry was booming. However, people are relying on printed paper documents less every day and are replacing hard copy files with ones that are easily accessed on a computer.
The popularity of printing photos, filling out forms by hand, reading printed books or newspapers, and handwriting letters is declining. Instead, people are now much more digital- than paper-focused.
Organizations, too, are reducing their paper document storage in favor of digitizing documents, and there are various reasons why:
- It costs on average $120 in labor to find a misfiled document and $220 to reproduce a lost document (PricewaterhouseCoopers)
- Nearly 75% of time spent working with paper documents is wasted in searching and filing (Coopers & Lybrand)
- It costs $25,000 per year to fill a four-drawer cabinet and $2,160 per year to maintain it (Orfal, Harkey & Edwards in Essential Client/Server Survival Guide)
- Electronic databases coupled with high-speed networking makes documents accessible instantaneously
It’s hard to argue that digital documents are taking over.
Document Management and Scanning Increases Efficiency and Effectiveness
Organizations that have digitized their files are more productive than those that still use paper files. Electronic documents offer benefits original paper files cannot duplicate.
Below are the advantages of using an electronic document management system (EDMS) and digitizing paper files.
Digital files can be accessed instantly with a few clicks from your desk. No more sending the intern to wade through a paper ocean for a single document, only to have to go and search for it yourself when the intern can’t find it.
Manual document retrieval wastes an employee’s time at work. Having documents available electronically frees up valuable time for more important tasks.
Immediate Access on Multiple Platforms
Digital images can be accessed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
If your organization scans its documents and hosts them in the cloud, you can access important information remotely from any device. This is especially helpful when in the field or out of the office and a client needs assistance.
An EDMS allows digital files to be retrieved in multiple ways by searching specific fields of information, such as name, account number, date, or location.
Physical files can only be accessed in one way: by how they are filed in a drawer or shelf.
In addition, digital files can be retrieved by the content contained within the document through the use of optical character recognition (OCR).
This technology transforms a scanned image into an intelligent, searchable document.
Digital files are easier to retrieve than paper ones.
Ease of Distribution
Once found and retrieved, digital files can immediately be sent via email to one or more person.
Paper documents need to be photocopied, faxed, or overnighted to recipients, which can be costly.
You can even set up automated workflows for specific document types, so that once a document is uploaded, edited, or created, an email granting access to it is sent to everyone who needs it.
Digital documents make automating a workflow easy and efficient.
Reduce Document Storage Space
Digital files do not take up floor or cabinet space and are cost-efficient.
The price of electronic storage keeps getting lower; in 1956, the world’s first disc drive weighed over 1 ton, stored about 5 megabytes of data, and cost over $1 million (today’s value). Now, the average cost of disc space is about $0.02 per gigabyte.
Paper documents that once took up a room or floor now fit onto one iPhone-sized drive that takes up minimal space.
Once documents are scanned, they can either be shredded or stored off-site.
The bulky filing cabinets that once occupied valuable office space can be re-appropriated for more productive means, such as additional workstations, offices, or meeting rooms
No More Lost Documents
Paper documents can easily be misplaced, misfiled, thrown out, or even stolen, not to mention the risk of a flood, fire, or other natural disaster destroying documents.
Once scanned, digital images are easily backed up for long-term storage and are immune to the problems associated with paper files.
With digital documents you can save multiple copies and even remote backups via cloud hosting. This way, no matter what happens to the originals, your organization can operate as usual.
Benefit From Document Scanning
The overall benefits of using digital documents and converting hard copy documents to digital format are endless.
Electronic document management systems allow for superior handling of documents, immediate access, database management, electronic workflow, better use of space, and more.
This ultimately results in better customer service, reduced costs, increased productivity, compliance, and vastly improved security. Happier and less frustrated employees is also an added bonus.
Save money, save time; go paperless.
About the Author
Brandon Harris is the vice president of Smooth Solutions Inc., founded by his father Michael Harris, who has been a pioneer in document scanning industry for over 35 years. A leading document scanning service in Lodi, N.J., they are experts in providing document digitization services. They scan paper files, large format drawings, convert microfilm to digital, digitize books, etc. Prior to that, Brandon owned and operated a small bakery. Other than working to grow and improve his business, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and family.