Best Practices to Convert Paper Documents to Electronic Files
You have finally decided that it is time for your office to go paperless. Maybe the triggering event was a lawsuit that required you to comb through your files for one document or the sudden realization that fire could destroy every important corporate record that you own. In any case, having decided to go paperless, you’re left with one important question: how do I convert paper documents to electronic files?
The move to electronic document management can seem daunting. After all, how are you supposed to convert, index and organize the thousands of files currently sitting around your company’s office? Furthermore, after you’ve converted these files how can you securely dispose of sensitive paper files and records?
Below, we’ve outlined our best practices to make it easy to convert paper documents to electronic files.
Stage One: Backfile Scanning
The conversion process begins with backfile document scanning. In this phase, you will want to scan, index and organize all your existing documents. The easiest way to do this is to engage a document scanning service to do the work for you. A document scanning service will take your documents and scan them into the electronic format of your choice.
What to Look For
Inquire about secure shredding services beforehand. Not all document scanning service will shred your documents for you. Some require that you dispose of the files on your own. Look for a scanning company that offers in-house document shredding. This way, when the service finishes to steps necessary convert paper documents to electronic files, they can securely shred your sensitive documents on-site for you.
You will also want to find a scanning service that makes it easy to ship your files or will pick your documents up on site. This reduces the logistical headache of trying to to get your files to your conversation partner.
Finally, you should consider beforehand whether your industry has any special document security standards, such HIPAA compliance. If it does, then you will want to find a document scanning service that meets those unique compliance standards.
Stage Two: Add the Files to an Enterprise Content Management System
After a scanning service has converted your documents, they will need to be added to an electronic document management system. This will allow your employees to search and edit your files electronically. There are a few options available for this process and you will want to consultant with document management expert in order to find the best solution for your office’s unique needs. For example, a common solution we often recommend for businesses is ImageSilo.
Stage Three: Day Forward Scanning
You finally have all of your documents scanned, indexed and stored in your new electronic document management system. Now what should you when you create a new physical document that you need to convert into an electronic file? In this case, you have two options available.
First, you can add an OCR capable device to your office. Many of these devices, when coupled with the appropriate document management software solution, will enable you to convert your own documents and index them in your electronic document management system. This is ideal for organizations looking to convert the occasional physical document into an electronic file.
If you have a lot of documents, or you’re creating new physical documents on a regular basis, you may want to partner with a document scanning service for timed document conversions. This allows you to convert your newly created document to electronic files at regular intervals and add them to your electronic document management system.
After reading this article, you may be thinking that that process required to convert paper documents to electronic files requires a lot of vendor management, contract negotiation, and bid requests. While that’s true if you use a traditional company that specializes solely in either document scanning, document management software, or office printing devices, it doesn’t have to work that way. The key is to look look for an all-in-one partner who can guide your scanning project from start to finish. Not only does this make the billing process easier, but it also increases accountability and simplicity.
If you’re looking for that unique vendor with significant expertise in each area, then look no further than Metro Sales. With over fifty years of experience and knowledgeable experts in each of these three critical areas, we are uniquely positioned to help you with any scanning project, no matter how large or small.