Before you jump into the deep end of your digital conversion project, ask yourself one question: why am I doing this?
We love digitization projects, and we’re not trying to scare you away from doing one. But we are checking to see if you have the right mindset going into the project so that when you’re done, you’re actually happy with the result.
Keep reading for some tips to ensure you’re solving the right problem and that your scanning project is a success.
Digital Conversion Is Awesome…
Digitization – turning something from hard copy into an electronic format – can be a fantastic move for your organization and provide plenty of upside. Some of the most common benefits of converting your records to digital include:
With digital records, you don’t have to get up from your workstation to locate a file in a drawer, back office, warehouse, whatever! You simply search for it in your org’s document management system and pull it up, likely saving at least a few minutes per record.
Hard copies require you to be physically present to get to them, but when you scan your files to digital you can access the information you need from remote locations, eliminating some of the headache of not being able to get to data you need.
Many document management systems allow for permission-based access, meaning that you can set up users to only be able to access files that they’re supposed to. This provides a level of security that can sometimes be unavailable with hard copy records, unless your company has the infrastructure for locked cabinets, segregated rooms for confidential data, and so on.
If a physical record gets lost, stolen, or destroyed, that’s probably the only copy of the file available (not good!). But when you have digital files, you can create backups that can be available in the case of disaster.
…But It’s Not A Magic Bullet
There is a dark side to digitization, but not necessarily in the way you might think. It comes down to the expectations you have surrounding the conversion of your records and what will come from it.
As an example, when people think of scanning their hard copies to digital they typically believe that the records will be easier to find. In most cases, that’s true! However, if the specifics of the project are overly complex, you could potentially make the records harder to find because you’re trying to be too fancy. This sounds crazy, but it happens. The best way to avoid this is to keep things as simple as possible at first, test it out, and then improve from there.
For other examples of digitization myths, check out this article to learn more.
What’s Your Problem?
No, we’re not trying to get into a schoolyard fight with you. This is a serious question!
What’s the problem you’re trying to solve? Why are you digitizing your records? Although it sounds obvious, this question often gives people pause because they aren’t completely sure. If you don’t have a problem with your records, why are you changing?
A generic answer might be “we don’t want to deal with hard copies anymore,” which is completely understandable. But why don’t you want to deal with them? Is it that you’re running out of space? The files are getting lost? It takes too long to locate information? The underlying answer will help you figure out what is the critical issue you’re running into and what you’re trying to solve for, which will help your scanning partner craft a way forward.
Pinpoint The Problem; Plan The Solution
Being specific in identifying and naming your problem will help your scanning partner understand your current pain and create a solution that solves that problem, and not a different one. It’d be quite the bummer to go through an entire digital conversion project and still have issues with the exact thing you were trying to fix!
Let’s use an example. We’ll pretend that you have 1,500 rolls of microfilm that you access once a week. Your major concern is that the film is starting to deteriorate and smells like vinegar, so you want to preserve the data and images before it rots away. All you need is a basic scanning and indexing project, naming the electronic files based on the microfilm box label since you’re barely into these records. Keep it simple!
But if you don’t clarify this with your scanning partner, they might suggest indexing individual files on the microfilm and creating a very granular and complex naming format. It all sounds great, but at the end of the project you’re still only accessing the records once per week and spent a bunch more money than you needed to. You solved your original problem (prevent losing the data) but you also “solved” a problem you didn’t have: finding individual files and naming separately!
There are many ways to peel the onion with a scanning project, so it’s crucial that you understand what you’re getting at the end. We like to recommend the building block approach: replicate how you organize and find your records now, and see if that solves your problem. If it does, you don’t need to spend any more money or go further. If it doesn’t, you can always do more!
Lastly, don’t get sidetracked by the “shiny object” of cool technology or fancy features – make sure the digital solution is actually solving your problem, otherwise you’ll be frustrated in the end.
Test, Test, And Test Again
Once you’ve converted your records and solved your problem, don’t sit on your laurels. Continue to evaluate your situation and test new methods of making it even better.
If you used the building block approach and you’ve digitized your records using a simple method (i.e. roll level indexing), test the idea of file-level indexing. Would this save time? Free up your people? Generate more revenue?
If the answer is yes, then it could be a good move to add another “building block” to your project, one step at a time.
If the answer is “no, adding granularity won’t improve how I use my digital records,” then leave them as-is for now and keep your eyes open for other opportunities to improve.
Ready to solve your problem using digitization? Call us at 800.359.3456 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected with one of our sales reps. A few minutes chatting with one of our people could have you on your way to success!
Check out some more articles about paper scanning and digitization:
“The Price Of Digitization” describees the differences between upfront and total costs so you’re not blindsided with a huge price tag and an overbudget project.
“On-Site vs. Off-Site Scanning & Digitization” helps you answer the question “should you have your records digitized on-site (at your office) or sent off-site (to a scanning company’s facility)?” Before jumping into a decision, consider the various factors including transportation, cost, speed of the project, and available resources.
“The BMI Milestone 1 Proof Of Concept Process” illustrates our 3-phase Milestone 1 Proof of Concept process. Our Build-Test-Refine methodology ensures that your project is built correctly, tested to ensure workability, and refined to get you the result you need.