3 times when you shouldn’t go paperless

3 times when you shouldn’t go paperless

This post is part of Reducing Paper: The Ultimate Guide to Storage, Scanning, and Document Management Software.

Believe it or not, there are some documents you should not scan.

Is there an anti scanning bias? Hardly.

Imaging Office Systems (IOS) scans over 6,000,000 pieces of paper every month. It is a big part of our business, and we are very good at it. We help clients “go paperless” every day. But you would be surprised how often we tell clients not to scan. That might sound counterintuitive, but it’s true.

When our experts are consulting with clients, these are the top three times when we know their best option is to stick with some form of box storage.

It is easier—but definitely not cheaper—to tell us that “I want to scan, go paperless and get all these filing cabinets out of here.” We hear that a lot.

But, doing some work upfront together—particularly with financial records and defined retention schedules—can reduce the amount to be scanned. It can still all be moved out but a significant subset going short term to an off-site box storage center to live out their days will greatly reduce the scanning spend.

This is more critical than you might think. Often we live in a binary choice world for projects of “go” or “no go” without enough thought to options. It sounds like this: “We have a records management problem. Find out what it will cost to scan all of these documents and files. Then, the price tag comes back, and it is significantly more than the budget allows so the the project is tabled. No go.

download the ultimate guide to reducing paper1. Your documents are too close to the end of their retention requirement.

In this scenario, theres a better question that should be asked to solve the records management problem: “Which of these files should be scanned, and which documents does it make better sense to keep in box storage?”

This revised question greatly increases the likelihood that something will actually happen—something positive for your records management—because it will be far less expensive and a much better use of the budget.

The easiest way to get your scanning spend down is to first identify which records, based on their age relative to their stated retention level, can have a short life in box storage and then be destroyed.

2. You still need to keep these records legally, and the chance you’ll need to retrieve them is extremely low.

When you choose scanning as your records management solution, you need to get paid back with efficiency of retrieval, meaning with the new solution your data will get into the right hands within seconds.

If no one is going to look at these documents when they are still in paper format (or if they’ll only be needing to access them infrequently), digitizing is not going to save you time or money. You won’t gain anything.

For security, control, and space savings, you are probably better off opting for off-site box storage to manage your records. And, ideally, you will work with a box storage facility that offers digital “scan on demand” services for those rare times when you do need the occasional document quickly.

Scan on demand simply means that the requested file is immediately scanned and sent to you within just a few hours on a secure portal without your boxes ever having to leave the box storage center.

Low retrieval of files makes remaining in paper—with scan on demand as an optional service tool for when you do need a file—the most cost effective solution.

3. You are not sure what you have

We hear this a lot. Maybe you have filing cabinets (or even boxes) held in off-site box storage facilities containing different types of documents and they’re often poorly labelled or organized. Maybe records from some departments are rock solid, maybe others look thrown together.

Rather than bulk scanning or storing documents eternally, in this sort of situation IOS always recommends data acquisition.

Data acquisition is a service where someone efficiently goes thru each cabinet drawer or box and performs folder level indexing, and then this resulting information is shared back with the client.

This process helps clients make informed decisions on what needs to be scanned, which documents should be stored longer, and what information can simply be destroyed. As you might imagine, this is far, far less expensive than scanning everything with the added benefit of now you know what you have.

You have to know what you have to make good choices on which workflow—scan, shred, or continue storing in off-site box storage—is the best solution for your too much paper problem.

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