Written by Ana Canteli on 30 august 2021
Before, the digitization of documents was considered a plus of document management in companies, but not precisely a fundamental element in document management. The need to provide remote access to the organization's documents has made digitizing printed documents have a relevance never seen before.
Switching from physical documents into a digital format provides many advantages and benefits, in addition to those mentioned above, which is to facilitate access to information, regardless of the number of people who want to access it and the distance between them and the physical location of the file.
- It improves the organization's security: It may go unnoticed, but digitizing documents protects the organization's information from phenomena such as physical deterioration produced both by the passage of time and by events challenging to foresee, such as natural disasters. What is the treatment of files in case of flood or fire? The digitization of documents, apart from facilitating document management and business processes in general, contributes to creating backup copies to preserve the entity in the long term.
- Improves information security: In many cases, the digitizing process means that users will access digital files through a document management solution. Good document management software offers different options to configure the security policy for digitized information. From means of authentication, access instruments, encryption functionalities, or traceability tools that allow defining access to documents and thus the type of use users can make of the digitized documents.
- Improves business processes: When an organization considers digitizing information, this means, in many cases, reengineering of functions, which means a substantial improvement in the organization's operations, thus increasing productivity at the personal, departmental, and corporate levels from the detection and elimination of duplicate documents to the identification of previously lost documents; as well as the update of the security policy and access to the latter. On the other hand, if the business processes are developed beyond a single computer tool, the document management system chosen to tackle the document digitization project must provide integration facilities with third-party applications.
- Improves collaboration between human resources: document managers allow gathering all the information in a single platform that usually includes communication tools for users. From the insertion of notes, through the use of keywords, categories, metadata. all these attributes make searching and finding information easier and faster for people than if they had to go to the document custody service and request a physical document, or even have to move them to the company's file custody space and start looking through such a large amount of documentation. Very likely, situations like this discourage good decision-making, all of them supported by quality information: authentic, reliable, complete, available, and accessible. Any self-respecting digitization process, apart from contributing to the creation of backup copies, promoting the paperless office, or facilitating the work of document managers, must also become a tool that supports regulatory compliance.
How to digitize?
The management of documents in digital format will result from taking a series of decisions of transversal and strategic scope for the entire entity. Of course, what is usually done is to start the pilot project in a specific department or area that will continue with its activity, both in analog and digital formats. But any file digitization project must meet some basic premises:
- Appoint those responsible for the document digitization project and management commitment: it seems worthwhile, but in large-scale projects that require the collaboration of several actors, it is essential to appoint personnel in charge of project management, which in turn will have the necessary means and resources needed to carry it out, based on the commitment of the organization's board of directors.
- Establish a calendar of actions and expected results. As a result of the activities carried out by the document managers who will analyze the connections and the needs of the entity at the documentary level, a realistic timetable will be designed of all the tasks to be carried out, the actors involved, and the means they have to carry out these tasks. This way, transparency in access to information is guaranteed, and that all members of the project are duly informed.
- Create a maintenance and improvement protocol: previously we had said that working with digital files contributes to the improvement of processes, given that in every digitization process, we go from the management of paper processes to the management of the digital document flow, and this leads to substantial cost savings, as many manual tasks can be automated, and even disappear as obsolete. Once the company moves to electronic document management of digital files, this improvement process does not end. It is necessary to periodically establish a bug review system, study possible solutions, and link resources to its implementation:
- Establish the list of document types of the organization: and their formats, in addition to their classification, both in their original and digitized versions, establishing the relationship between them for historical purposes. This may seem abstract, but it contributes to maintaining digital preservation.
- Define the access box: Digitized documents provide more accessibility and usability possibilities than their paper counterparts. Directly transferring the security policy from paper documentation to digital format is a mistake because it can unnecessarily limit the access and use of some users on the one hand and create security gaps on the other.
- Create calendars of conservation and document disposition: one of the most notable advantages of digital document management is that it dramatically facilitates document control. Those responsible for the preservation of company documents can trust that the company's document management program provides global access to all files.
The OpenKM document management system has the necessary elements to guarantee a successful and secure document digitization process: from scanning tools, automation, through optical character recognition - zonal OCR - to the workflow engine included in the system. The software comprises SDKs in Java, PHP, .NET, a complete API, and a software suite that develops system utilities in all directions. If you have questions about how to approach this project, our document management experts can advise you. And to support the personnel involved in the digitization plan, at OpenKM Academy, you will find training courses adapted to different profiles.