Scanning is the process of converting paper into digital documents. If an organization would like all its official data in electronic form, then it is important to clearly identify the historical documents that need to be scanned as well as future documentation received that would not in electronic form.
The following questions are intended to guide and counsel the client in determining the types of documents and records to scan along with selecting a scanning process.
Which historical documents should be scanned in?
What documents that currently are received in paper should be converted to electronic format? Is it possible to request receiving those documents in an electronic format? What is the best process to request that (i.e., online, website, email, phone, etc.)?
Who in the office can provide on-going scanning support? Are there any employees who should have access to a personal scanner?
Which documents, once scanned, will need to be retained in their original paper format? Is this noted in the Records Retention policy and guidance?
Which documents, once scanned, will need to be shredded for confidential purposes?
Are there any documents in which text recognition is required (OCR)?
Once you get the shared drive reorganized it is important to establish accountability and responsibility to help maintain file structure and organization. As organizations evolve and change, so do file structures and record guidelines. It is essential for a person or department be accountable for the documents, records, and knowledge of the organization to maintain good record keeping. This can be the IT department or a person can be identified in each department or area of the company or organization. This person could have a title called ‘Organization Record Manager’, ‘Department Shared Drive Manager’ or ‘Electronic Record Coordinator’.
The following is a list of possible duties that this person would be responsible for as it relates to documents and records on the Shared Drive network:
Planning and coordinating annual review and purge of the shared drive with their respective department or area
Updating the shared drive guidelines and/or policy
Periodic check and review of the file structure on the shared drive to ensure it is in accordance with the guidelines
If unknown or unauthorized files are found, investigate ownership and accountability
Providing training for new hires, including contractors or employees, on the shared drive structure and guidelines
Authorize user permissions for restricted files within the respective department or area
It is also important to establish end-user and staff accountability. The responsibility for managing individual files or documents should reside with the author, team, or department who created the original file. The document originator or end-user should be responsible for:
Managing owner or authored files and documents on the shared drive
Ensure the file and its contents are in accordance with the file structure and document naming conventions
Removing the file and/or document contents, per the retention guidelines
Establishing this accountability will help an organization to maintain good structure and organization on the shared drive as well as create accountability for all staff to be responsible for good record and file keeping for the organization.
According to a study by the CAP Venture Group, it is estimated that 80% of information is still retained on paper even though more than 80% of the documents we work with are already in a computer somewhere. According to Xerox, approximately 30% of printed documents are for one-time use only and further studies found that about 45% of documents printed in a typical office are thrown away within 24 hours. Another Gartner study called “Electronic Document Management” revealed that the average document was copied between nine and eleven times.
One of the keys in gaining efficiencies in data management and increasing productivity is to reduce the paper workers manage. A key component to creating a paperless office is to create user trust in finding and accessing data electronically. Employees are inundated with data in multiple formats and finding it more and more difficult to manage the amount of data and be effective and efficient at their job. Without a consolidated system to manage data along with sound file structure and data management guidelines users will tend to keep a ‘backup’ copy of data and records in paper. Although paper does have its uses for work purposes such as reading, reviewing at meetings or processing data, it is not the optimal format to archive, store and file records and documents. When moving towards a paperless office it becomes even more vital that file structures, whether on a Shared Drive network or in a cloud-based system, is well-organized. It is also important that there is a clear and designated location to store data when there are multiple document and record systems available to users. Finally, data management practices need to be clearly defined such as document naming conventions, versioning, and data conventions.
It is hard to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, especially in the information age. We seem to be consuming more paper than ever. According to the HP Internet Printing Index survey workers say they print pages from the Internet an average of 32 pages a day. US companies still file 120 billion sheets of paper annually. Since over 80% of the paper we file is never referenced again, it makes sense to purge your desk and filing cabinets to get a fresh start.
Consumer Research Institute reports that the average American throws away 44 percent of their junk mail unopened. In addition we sometimes pick up information, just because it is information. Ask yourself, “Do I really want it?”, before collecting more paper in your office. The reality is that we are creating our own paper pile up nightmare! Seize the day and throw away!
Some documents need to be kept. For example, financial and tax documents need to be kept for the IRS for 7 years. Often you need to keep paper documents only for a short period of time, but can then dispose of it because you have a record of it electronically. Create a “pending/waiting” box on your desk for such papers that you only need temporarily. Then you can periodically purge it as the issue resolves itself.