9 Tips for the Paperless Office
21 June 2010
Document management software conversion from paper to electronic files
"What should we do with file cabinets full of paper or
electronic files that were previously scanned?"
This question comes up frequently with agencies we talk with about going
We have even had a prospective agency say that the large volume of existing paper
is a reason (excuse) not to take on document management!
It's important to consider this and we encourage new customers to plan for their
transition from existing paper files as part of the implementation process.
When speaking with successful paperless agencies we find that, when properly
planned, this transition is not a barrier to success...
and they find it to be a much easier job than converting to their agency
Here are some tips our customers have shared with us about their
conversion to consider:
- Use the conversion as a reason to ensure that existing files that are
older than your agency's
written retention plan are destroyed.
- Remember that a comprehensive look at the documents you have retained
could likely expose an issue or provide an opportunity to write or round
business. Regular reviews should be part of the process.
- Many agencies set a conversion date, after which all documents will be
found in their document management system
(often called a "date-forward"
process). This would minimize or eliminate the need to scan older files as
long as you know the date of filing. You would continue to pull older files by
the current method until they are no longer needed.
- Another common way to handle existing documents is by, when a legacy paper
file is pulled, scanning the entire contents of the file. This gets files you
commonly refer to into the system sooner. Put a brightly colored dot on the
outside of the folder and, after some time has gone by, browse the file
cabinet to find and scan the files without dots!
- If you decide to scan historical files (backfiling), don't spend time
trying to identify and enter detailed descriptions of old documents. If the
paper file is only identified by what's on the file folder label, the paper
file's file label information is probably enough to use as an index for the
entire file and to find it in your electronic document management system.
That's how you're finding it now!
- Recognize that if you do backfile legacy documents, you'll have a higher
volume of scanning than you will need after the conversion period.
If you do it yourself, consider leasing or renting a higher volume scanner to
use until the conversion is complete.
- If you decide not to scan the files yourself, there are firms who will
arrive at your office with a hand-truck and return with a handful of DVDs.
A thorough quality control check of the scanned files is important to do
before destroying the original files.
- Consider how you're filing now to help plan the conversion. One agency we
worked with that had individual customer files,
published a schedule by letter of the alphabet so the staff would know where
to find legacy documents during the conversion process.
If your documents have been T-filed, you could use a similar process to alert
the staff where to find older documents by process date.
- If you are converting historical electronic documents to DocSTAR from an
electronic system like Paperport, attachments in your management system,
or another document management system carefully consider the "metadata" or
index information that you've used to find documents in your current system.
Most clients choose not to convert legacy documents, remembering that their
agency management system's diary has a record by date that lets them know where
documents are without having to look in multiple places. Remember that the cost
and time of having store or find older documents is part of the return on your
investment that you will enjoy going forward!
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Last Update -
Monday June 21, 2010