Many companies, particularly those which started prior to the digital era, have been built from paper files. Paper files may live in file cabinets, on employee desks, and in other places which are not easily accessible by parties who need them. In a sense, the information in these files is considered "dark," because they do not exist in a digital format.
Though the thought of converting paper files to a digital format can seem daunting, it is essential for a company to have a handle on data compliance and information governance.
Where do we start with converting paper files?
It's important to recognize that every file may not need to be digitally converted. One of the first steps in this process is to determine which files have the most significance or urgency and prioritize those as the first to be scanned. Rather than randomly picking files to scan, start with those that are accessed or needed most often. Digitizing those files used most frequently can save valuable time and help employees realize benefits right away.
Is it necessary to have every file in digital format?
Determining where each file is in its lifecycle will be beneficial in the digital conversion process and should ideally be done prior to beginning a scanning project. Take some time to understand what information your company has, why your company has this data, and how long it must be retained. This knowledge makes it easier to determine how urgently a file should be digitally converted, if at all.
Similarly, converting a file to a digital format if your company no longer needs the information opens you up to unnecessary obstacles and risks. Retaining digital copies of outdated information not only takes up additional resources, it increases the likelihood that this information could be improperly shared or leaked in error.
How should we dispose of unneeded files?
Once you have determined that a paper file is no longer necessary, whether because it has been converted to a digital format or because there is no reason to keep it, it should be destroyed in a secure manner. Shredding is an effective way to ensure the information is destroyed and will not be able to be replicated in any format.
Though it could prove to be a large-scale project depending on the amount of paper, capturing paper files in a digital format has many benefits. Among the advantages, digital conversion helps determine the company's information life cycle, if that policy does not already exist.
Gone are the days of companies operating with paper-only files. Capturing files digitally can lead to greater data compliance and data security. By going through this exercise companies become more efficient, adhere to data compliance policies, and determine how best to secure proprietary and sensitive information.
AJTC's team of technology experts has a thorough understanding of data security and its impact on information and document management. Contact AJTC today to learn more about our technology solutions. You may also visit AJTC here or call 708.942.8200.