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8 Things to Consider Before Going Paperless

by Kristin Logan | Aug 10, 2016

electronic document managementIf you’ve ever even thought about reducing paper in your office, you likely know that it’s the kind of project that requires careful planning to avoid major disruptions in your operations.

Conceptually, it sounds like a great idea to convert paper files into electronic. Using content management systems increases employee productivity, operational efficiency, compliance and document security.

With the right knowledge, you can place your organization in a powerful position and fully leverage electronic document management systems. You can also better convince superiors of the merits of this project and intelligently shop for the right solution.

Here are 8 things to consider before going paperless:

1. Goals and needs. It helps to have your objectives in mind before you start mapping out the project. If you’re under mandates, try to at least identify why the mandate was put in place. You also need to identify your needs. How many users will you have, how do you need to capture new documents (i.e. via the web, physically scanning, via mobile device, etc.).

2. Cost and benefits. There are costs associated with converting documents to digital and they should be compared to the benefits that come with electronic document management systems (EDMS). Some of the more blanket benefits include improved productivity, increased efficiency and reduction in lost documents. 

3. Security and compliance. Different organizations have different requirements for security and compliance. These mandates include privacy, retention and reports. Outlining all the requirements associated with your documents will help you identify the document management system that will work best for your organization

4. Scope of the project. For planning purposes, have an idea of how much work needs to be done. How many records are you looking to convert? How many departments are you looking at? Do you have automated workflow needs you want to address? Are you going to have archived files or current files?

5. Existing files. You’ll need to identify what kinds of documents and files you have to make sure that the document management system you go with can handle the different types of content. Some easily adapt to unstructured content and multimedia while others can only process traditional paper-based files.

6. Current electronic documents. Most likely, you already have electronic files. These might be files on your hard drive, email attachments, documents uploaded to software and attached to individual records. Some document management systems won’t accept these different file types. Identify the types of electronic files you have, then ensure that your new document management system can convert them all. Otherwise you’ll find yourself downloading, printing and manually scanning these files.

7. Conversion process. Who is doing the bulk of the conversion process? Ideally, conversion will be managed by the provider. Take steps to make sure that they are able to convert all of your electronic documents and that they are both expedient and accurate with the process of digitizing your files.

8. Training. Electronic document management can immediately improve your organization’s efficiency and productivity, but only if people know how to use it correctly. Identify who needs to be trained first and the best way to go about doing this. Your document management services provider should be able to outline their training plan. Ideally, it will balance a thorough training with the least amount of interruption.

Your document management systems provider should talk through these considerations with you, and help you answer the questions they present. At the very least, knowing what things need to be considered can help you identify the right approach to converting your paper files to electronic and the right provider to help you manage the project.

 

Milner Technologies provides comprehensive document management and workflow solutions to a growing number of city and county governments, public school systems, medical and behavioral health facilities, electric cooperatives, law enforcement agencies and businesses throughout the country. Our specialists understand complex retention and compliance requirements and can help you design the document management solutions that reduce paper volumes, increase efficiency and manage compliance requirements. Contact us for a free demo.

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