While many organizations rely on paper documentation for governance, operational needs, and general management, digitization of these documents is also important. Converting paper documents to digital ones increases operational efficiency, improves workflow, and enhances customer relationships and public perception of a company. More importantly, digitization ensures that, should paper documents become lost or damaged, their electronic counterparts will remain accessible. Companies working in the medical, financial, and legal fields are particularly vulnerable in this regard.
Digitization has a strong impact on productivity and profitability, yet like most other major upgrades to a company’s operations, digitization involves costs and risks. Fortunately, experts say that organizations can mitigate these downsides with proper research, management, and oversight of the process.
Here are only a few reasons why going digital makes sense for any 21st-century entrepreneur:
1. It will help you cope with emergencies.
By archiving paper documents in an efficient cloud-based storage system, you can prepare your business for any kind of disaster or emergency. It will be much easier to resume business operations after a disaster when essential information remains available online. At a time when your focus as a CEO will be on disaster management, you don’t need to waste time and effort trying to locate paper files or sift through a disorganized mass of possibly compromised documents.
2. It will save you time.
A business that relies only on paper documentation loses tens of thousands of employee hours annually in the effort to maintain, locate, and update these items. Additionally, many of those documents are only valuable in a specific situation for a few points of data they contain. Therefore, it makes sense to convert them to digital form for as-needed electronic searching, rather than having employees go over large amounts of irrelevant text and data in hopes of finding the exact piece of information they need.
3. It will make compliance easier.
Most businesses face numerous compliance issues, whether from state, local, or national governments, or from industry regulatory organizations. Over the last few decades, the federal government has enacted numerous laws and regulations that pertain to companies’ use of documents. These regulations may deal with customer privacy, financial accountability, or methods of record-keeping. Companies that lose original paper documents that don’t have electronic back-ups may face serious consequences for non-compliance.
4. It will increase the flexibility of your staffing schedule.
Digitization provides greater flexibility in staffing, as it permits staff to work remotely. An added benefit here is the potential to significantly decrease a company’s environmental footprint. A company can also increase retention when staff members enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home.
Additionally, digitization may enable a company to reduce the amount of office space it needs, thus lowering overhead.
5. It will streamline your operations.
Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of information governance (IG). Simply put, IG is a planned strategy for organizing and accessing all of the documents containing information pertinent to a business’ operations.
A well-structured IG policy increases overall efficiency in handling and dealing with both physical and cloud-based components. Such an IG plan can ensure that, even if physical documents are altered or lost, their digital counterparts remain accessible. This policy also enables employees at multiple service points within an organization to have instant visible access to shared information. Moreover, it helps to implement formalized office protocols for dealing with information as a vital resource.
Recent studies have demonstrated that poor-quality data is the major reason for project expense overruns that cost companies trillions of dollars annually. The greater the visibility available to you through digitization of documents, the more chances you have to increase the quality of the information these files contain.
6. It will boost your firm’s customer-facing efficiency.
Digitization can greatly improve a company’s response time in dealing with functions such as customer inquiries, logistical problems, and sales. This increased responsiveness directly correlates with operational efficiency and profitability, as greater numbers of satisfied customers know that they will receive a timely and helpful response.
In some instances, companies must still retain paper copies even when it has digitized the originals. Make sure your company checks with an appropriate authority regarding what kind of records you are required to maintain. You will need to verify which records you need to retain in paper form, and which ones you can recycle or shred after digitization.
7. It will help you cut costs and maximize your company’s potential.
Digitization can reduce the amount of paid staff needed to process and handle paper copies of records. Electronic files also minimize or eliminate the transportation costs of moving documents from place to place, and lessen the amount of time needed to retrieve relevant documents. Further, nearly two-thirds of American businesses in one recent survey achieved a positive return on investment within two years of undertaking a digitization program.
Today, when the corporate environment is rapidly transitioning to what some experts call “digitization 2.0,” new possibilities have emerged for gathering and using digitized business data to create new layers of value-added products and services. These can, in turn, increase the range of options available for companies to offer their customers and other stakeholders.