In the business world, knowledge is power. With the increase in digital technology, data is being created at break neck speeds and can pile up far quicker than most companies can process it. Because of this, the need for a document scanning and management system is becoming increasingly important.
"No matter how it's discussed, we're all at fault for creating information overload and, at the same time, we're all victims of information overload," the recent CMS Wire article reads. "It's tough enough to keep track of all the photos, videos, downloads and e-mail on our personal systems. Now imagine trying to keep track of the flood of content being created on an enterprise scale. That, in a nutshell, is what information professionals are up against."
The piece goes on to examine the current landscape of corporate information and enterprise content management systems. It cites a survey conducted by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), which found only 18 percent of respondents have implemented some kind of company-wide solution.
Many businesses have a different view of what they desire in a platform. Fifty-four percent said they plan to move to a single-solution, while 35 percent are using multiple systems and 19 percent want to create something new from the ground up.
Deciding on a digital solution for information management is clearly a complex task that requires more than going to Best Buy and picking something off the shelf. With the help of a document management solution provider, any company can take steps to easily implement an effective systems.
Many businesses have started to embrace the idea of going paperless. By moving to a digital approach, organizations can streamline workflow, improve organization and boost the bottom line. Because of this, companies in many industries are starting to take advantage of a paperless office—including paper companies.
While it seems like an unlikely alliance, even a business that deals with paper products is able to increase sales by going digital. A recent article in Baseline Magazine profiles Envelopments, a custom card and announcement producer. According to CEO Mark Smith, a few years ago, the company needed a shot in the arm to boost sales and going paperless was the answer.
The organization tossed out the paper order forms and decided to manage all orders online through their website. Now, customers can browse more than 170,000 paper, ink and design combinations, and submit the order digitally.
On top of that, the company is able to process orders much more quickly and in many instances, can have an order ready to go in 14 minutes. Smith said that 80 percent of orders are now shipped out the same or next day they came in.
"Our order volumes were increasing, and the number of accounts we managed was rising," Smith said. "We needed to handle the data flow efficiently, but an older ERP system wasn't scalable or dynamic enough to meet our evolving needs."
Taking the steps toward a paperless office can be difficult, but if a paper company can do it, so can you. By partnering with a document scanning and management service, any organization can start converting.
The police department in Springfield, Illinois has received a new tool for fighting crime and it isn't some kind of weapon found in any futurist cop movie that Hollywood is turning out. Instead, it is an improved way to share information and enter data through an integrated digital system.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, a newspaper in Southwestern, Illinois, law enforcement is shelving the hand-written reports that have been used for years in favor of an electronic solution. Currently, they are one of the last departments of its size in the area to still use paper records.
The old system required officers to hand-write all reports and then scan them into the database. Names and ages were added separately to each document once it was in the database to make searching easier. The new system will be based entirely on computers.
"We're trying to take an antique system and upgrade it," Springfield police commander Gregg Williams, told the news source. "But the whole paperless process is difficult. If you try to put too much into a system that is too old, you could end up shutting it down."
The police department realized that updating to a paperless solution is not as easy as it seems. Companies can't just buy some hardware and software then plug it in, hoping it will work right out of the box. The new solutions need to be integrated with the old ones to successfully streamline operations. This can be possible by partnering with a document scanning and management service provider.
Three years ago Joe Kissell released his book, "Take Control of Your Paperless Office' Reduces Pulp Friction." It was, not surprisingly, an e-book about how to survive and operate in the current landscape of business and personal worlds. Now, after several years of evolving, the marketplace is ready for a revision.
In a recent blog post for TidBITS, Michael Cohen reviewed the updated version of the book and explained how the paperless office has changed as technology has improved.
"It has been almost three years since [Kissell's book] rolled off our virtual presses, and things in the paperless world have changed a bit since then," Cohen wrote. "No, not Joe's basic strategies for shrinking to manageable size the piles of paper that modern life can heap upon us, but rather, the available tools and services that can help us clear them away. "
There were several takeaways from the revised version of the e-book. First, is the update in available technology. This includes improved scanners, better screens and Retina displays, upgraded optical character recognition software, higher quality cameras on portable devices and the abundance of cloud services.
The other major factor that has changed is new challenges to the process. Things like privacy risks, stricter legal requirements of electronic documents and networking security needs remain a challenge.
While it is clear that the paperless approach has evolved, there are some facets that are unchanged. For example, the benefits of streamlining operations with a digital approach has improved and the help that a document scanning and management service can provide is still unmatched.
While many business decision-makers take the current state of the technology landscape into account when considering the a new strategy, they may want to start looking at what the next generation of employees prefer.
Drew Hendricks used this as the framework for a Tapscape column and the reason why companies need to consider a paperless office. He argued that as more of the younger generation embraces the latest innovations in their personal lives and starts to enter the workforce, companies will need to offer them an environment that matches their day-to-day. One of these things is going with a paperless workspace.
"There seems to be less and less need for paper, and today's professional needs to manage in a world with less paper in it," Hendricks wrote. "There's the environmental aspect and, frankly, the convenience. If I can carry hundreds of books, papers, etc., on my iPad or even my smartphone, why on earth would I want to carry papers around?"
He added that there can be a feeling of annoyance among the younger generation when they are handed a sheet of paper to complete a task that could easily be done online. There are many different processes that can go digital, like billing, document sharing, direct deposit and contact lists.
If a business is to partner with a document scanning and record management, the list of processes that can be converted to a digital platform grows. By making this switch, organizations can streamline workflow, improve efficiency and engage employees like never before.
If you look around at how a number of different processes are handled these days, it is amazing how many are done with a paperless approach in mind. From filling out job applications, reporting an insurance claim to sharing documents in the office—processes that were traditionally handled with paper are being converted to a digital format.
A recent blog post from CTI Image examines many of these changes that author Ro Kathurina has experienced.
"A recent visit to the doctor for a routine medical procedure had me filling out all the required information on a tablet, not a bunch of paper that was going to wind up in a file folder on the shelf," Kathuria wrote. "Instead I was able to input my medical history, medications, and other pertinent information directly into their EMR/EHR system."
The reasons for converting to a digital office are the benefits that many organizations are able to experience. These include streamlining operations, limiting mistakes in paperwork, eliminating stacks of physical records and, improve any big data solution and analytics.
For a proper electronic system to be successful, however, businesses need to implement a few different services. Aside from just putting in new software to manage the record system, businesses need to make sure all employees understand how to use these solutions. Companies should also consider partnering with a document scanning and record management service to convert all existing files into an electronic format.
The paperless office is making an impact on industries across the board. However, despite the benefits of streamlined production and information sharing, there are still companies that remain hold outs as they hesitate taking the leap to the next level.
In a guest column for the Information Daily, Mark Harvey, the U.K. sales manager for Capita's higher education division, spoke about the reasons why universities should go paperless.
Harvey cited a Capita survey that found 55 percent of colleges are still using paper-based processes to manage student applications. This is despite the fact that the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has recommended that all universities should adopt online application by the end of 2014.
"To meet increasing expectations and to attract a high caliber of students from what could be a decreasing pool, commercially astute universities are focusing their attention towards enhancing the student experience," Harvey wrote. "Not to include online application processing as a way to improve the overall student experience would be a mistake, as it's a way for universities to claw back a degree of control, step up their service to students, and do more with less."
The article goes on to talk about different ways that this digital approach could help the university environment. Professors, for example, will find themselves with more time to focus on lesson plans and meeting with students by getting rid of paper forms in favor of electronic ones.
By partnering with a document scanning and record management service, any company can go a long way toward improving its operational efficiency and take a step into the future.
One aspect of business that many companies need to be aware of is industry and government compliance. Whether it's healthcare facilities protecting their patients' information or law offices holding onto trial information for the correct length of time. The use of paper records can make these processes more difficult.
A recent article from Bank Tech profiled how financial institutions have been able to keep up with constant regulatory changes with the help of a paperless system. By going digital, businesses have been able to improve the way they handle data entry processes, limit missing documents and inaccurate data, and do away with stacks of cumbersome paperwork.
The piece continues to mention other ways that the industry can save time and money, such as by reducing document management issues, eliminating paper filing and capturing data from the beginning. With the way technology has advanced, the right document management system can include the ability to electronically sign documents and streamline the information sharing process.
"What's even more helpful, the signed documents can be transmitted from the iPad to the bank's office for processing," the article reads. "An operation that once took two to four days now can take four hours or less. Gone are the lengthy paper trails, filing and scanning. Digital documentation and the capture of an electronic signature guarantee authenticity and increase compliance with governmental standards and audit processes."
Of course, adding a digital system does not automatically eliminate the paper problem. Instead, companies need to partner with a document scanning and management company that can help cut down on the stacks paper that have already been accumulated.
Like unattended weeds in the garden, the paper files in an office can easily get out of hand if a proper document management plan is not put into place. Without one, it will not be long before bathrooms and other corners of the building are being used to store critical documents.
This was the issue that faced the Madison County Wood River Facility when it came to storing many of its sensitive court documents,including lawsuits, wills and evictions, according to the Edwardsville Intelligencer. While the facility has been storing these kinds of documents for years, the sheer volume that is housed there has reached past its tipping point.
"We're actually overflowing on the fourth floor and using some of the bathrooms on the third floor to put files into. We've got padlocks on the bathroom doors," Circuit Clerk Mark Von Nida told the news source.
This is the second county facility this year to face a document storage issue, as the Madison County Courthouse experienced a similar problem of over-packing, which led to boxes upon boxes being housed in the basement against the walls.
Now, Von Nida is calling for an overhaul that would include the scanning and archiving of thousands of documents. There is already a system in place that requires all documents to be scanned but that was implemented in 2005. The new solution would start with the documents dating from 1995 through 2000.
The county would be wise to partner with a document scanning and management service that could come in and scan all required documents, without causing the facility to slow down daily operations.
The concept of the paperless office has been talked about for some time in corporate settings. But do many executives actually understand what that means? The first thought is to scan all important business documents, toss out the rest, have tablets for mobility and, work on a cloud and digital realm. However, this process is much more complicated than that and should not be taken lightly.
In a recent column for Macworld, Joe Kissell—a digital supporter and author of the book "Take Control of your Paperless Office"—tackled this issue as well as some misconceptions of the movement.
"But the biggest barrier to a paperless office may be the very word paperless. If using any paper at all, ever, means that you fail to meet the definition of paperless,maybe we're thinking about this concept the wrong way," Kissell wrote. "Going paperless doesn't have to be all or nothing to be effective."
Kissell mentioned that all businesses need to consider their ultimate goal for a paperless approach before implementing one. If executives want to increase productivity and streamline operations, that should be the focus and not how many stacks of paper have been converted.
It is nearly impossible for any business to go completely paperless. Because of this, company decision-makers should take solace in how the system is improving current operations. By partnering with a document scanning and information management solution provider, any organization can take the steps to starting a digital conversion.