We’ve been hearing about the paperless office for a long time now, and somehow, it still sounds like a pipe dream. Overstuffed filing cabinets seem to be the norm, and it’s still working, but there has to be a better way. While there is still a place for paper in our lives, there’s also a place for electronic records management. Effective electronic records management will not only keep your records updated, it will also increase productivity and save money.
Moving from physical files to digital is a huge shift, and there are a few things your organization will need to consider when making the switch to electronic records.
Moving to digital records takes time, but is doable
Going digital is a daunting task. You’ve probably got many years worth of file cabinets or boxes filled with paper files—just transferring the vital records to digital format is a huge task. It might seem like the longer you’ve been using paper, the hard it is to go digital, but if a 120 year old bank can make the switch, so can your organization.
Needham Bank in Massachusetts was able to make the switch to high-tech successfully without significantly increasing their IT staff. They did it strategically by working carefully with the right partners, choosing the technology that made the most sense for their business and by slowly improving tools and infrastructure to support the change.
Moving to an electronic records management system might not happen overnight, but it can happen.
Electronic records can save time, money
Technology that can reduce paper use in offices has been around for a long time. Despite that, according to a recent survey, paper usage in 21% of businesses is increasing, and in some cases, increasing rapidly. Thirty-four percent of respondents don’t see any change in the amount of paper being used. When electronics records management can save time and money, updating is something organizations can’t afford to wait on.
Rules of electronic records management
Digital records retention comes with a new set of rules. What qualifies as a record has changed in the digital age. As you’re getting started be sure to pay attention to the following:
- Legal requirements: Make sure to know the laws dictating what qualifies as a record and which need to be stored and managed. Understanding what paper files are no longer necessary can help reduce your paper trail. In most cases, scanned documents are legal replacements for paper. Be sure to check the requirement for your particular industry.
- Day-to-day use: Your electronic records management system will be more successful if it works with how you do business. Build a model that works with the way your business and your employees actually do their jobs. Obtain feedback and work through focus groups to make decisions on best practices and processes for moving forward.
- Access control: Being able to quickly and easily access records when needed while also protecting them from a data breach is essential to an effective electronic records management system. Protect them, but keep them easily accessible for those who need them.
Your electronic records management system should simplify processes for preserving and accessing records. Digitizing is a great way to reduce paper, but do it strategically in a way that works best for your organization. Records management should happen seamlessly in day-to-day operations. Keeping the process simple will save your organization time and money in the long run.