This is a digital era where paper is disappearing rapidly. With the continuous evolution of technology, going paperless is gradually becoming a new trend. Even in some paper-intensive industries, such as healthcare, it’s becoming a norm.
In a study by Deloitte, 94% of people agreed that digital transformation is the topmost strategic priority for their organizations.
So if your organization still houses records in physical format, it’s time to scan and digitize them.
Let’s understand what physical records are, their importance and types, and some genuine reasons to scan them.
What Are Physical Records?
The term ‘physical record’ refers to a paper copy that holds information in physical format.
Unlike electronic records that are intangible and stored in a digital format on a computer or server, physical records can be touched and take up physical space.
Although physical records were the only type of records available once upon a time, many offices still use them.
Importance of Physical Records
Digitization is the way forward, but we cannot deny the importance of physical records.
Apart from being important from both a compliance and backup perspective, physical records offer several benefits:
- No risk of cyber attacks.
- Keep an eye on the organizational hierarchy.
- Stay compliant with regulations.
- Act as solid proof of anything, like a transaction.
Along with their benefits, physical records management comes with several challenges, such as:
- Lack of visibility.
- Organizing paper records.
- Lost or missing paper documents.
- Manual procedures to keep records compliant.
That’s why more and more organizations are now switching to electronic or digital records that do not take up any physical space and are accessible anytime, from anywhere.
Types of Physical Records
There are many types of physical records, including but not limited to:
Physical records for your business such as notes, sales invoices, purchase invoices, legal correspondence, client records, etc.
Vital human resource records include hiring documents, certificates, employee performance and development, employment-related agreements, training, etc.
Public records mean any information that has been filed or recorded by public agencies, such as corporate and property records.
Manufacturing & Engineering physical records such as drawings, contracts, quality assurance documentation, etc.
Remember, any record you can touch comes under the physical record type.
Top Reasons to Scan Physical Records
Scanning and digitizing your physical records is beneficial for your organization in many ways. Here are some undeniable reasons to scan your physical records:
- Faster File Retrieval
Physical records are challenging to sort and manage. Retrieving a document often feels like searching for a needle in a haystack.
A report from the Gartner Group states that the average employee spends over 400 hours per year searching for hardcopy documents.
With a uniform file naming system, digital records enable you to find the necessary records in just a few seconds.
- Increased Data Security
Protecting hard copy information is a difficult task. Physical records can be destroyed, stolen, or mishandled at any time.
On the other side, digital document files are encrypted, password protected, and securely stored in a document management system.
You can even track all file activity and assign access levels to specific users.
- Easy Backup & Disaster Recovery
Paper documents are especially vulnerable to natural disasters like fires, floods, and earthquakes.
Without a backup of your physical documents, your organization is vulnerable to permanent record damage or theft.
On the other hand, scanning and converting paper documents to digital files makes your records almost immortal.
If something happens to your physical records, you’ll always have a backup to restore the information immediately.
- Aids Audit Compliance
Audit compliance is crucial for businesses to function legally in any location.
Even many laws, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), require records to be readily available.
Using digital document management software, you can quickly retrieve digital documents with indexed keywords and clear the audits of even the strictest auditor.
- Save Money on Resources
Another great benefit of scanning and digitizing documents is cost savings, in both the short-term and long-term.
Where storing, protecting, and managing physical records costs you a huge sum, going paperless through digitization significantly reduces your operational costs.
It helps you eliminate physical documents that take up too much office space and require security personnel for protection.
- Easier Sharing and Faster Collaboration
Most businesses today operate with multiple teams working from different geographic locations, creating the need for real-time sharing and collaboration.
A paper document takes much time to move from one desk to another, hindering productivity optimization.
However, scanning and digitizing your physical records makes it much easier to share and collaborate on them with other team members.
With digitized documents, multiple users can remotely access, view, and even edit files simultaneously, which increases productivity to a huge extent.
Why should documents be scanned?
The benefits of scanning your documents are countless.
For instance, it ensures that your documents, files, and records are safe, no matter what happens.
Also, digital scanning allows you to easily share and collaborate on documents, which improves overall productivity.
Other advantages include faster file retrieval, quicker audit compliance, reduced operational costs, and increased data security.
What needs to be considered before deciding to scan records?
Before you scan your physical records, ask yourself if you have secure document management software to capture, manage, and secure your paper documents. If the answer is yes, you can proceed to scan your physical records.
How do I scan a physical paper?
Scanning a physical paper is pretty easy.
Although you can do it with a scanner, the best choice is a built-in scanning feature in a document management system.
For example, Docsvault offers a robust document scanning and digitization solution that is designed to simplify the scanning process for large amounts of documents. Here is a simple illustration of how it works:
You can scan a single sheet or bulk documents in batches with just a few clicks of your mouse.
How do you keep physical records?
Physical records should be stored in a way they are both sufficiently accessible and safeguarded against theft and unauthorized access. This is where document management software comes in handy.
How to digitize physical documents?
Document management software is a great way to scan and digitize your physical documents. It allows you to capture and classify your documents absolutely in no time.