PDM are delighted to announce our client Barton Legal have been awarded Niche Law Firm at the Yorkshire Legal Awards 2016. Congratulations to Bill, Trish and their team.
There’s no doubt that scanning and document management technology has switched our reliance on paper documents to electronic forms of documentation. However, whilst paper documents are highly susceptible to loss or damage, they can also be used as absolute proof if required. Many businesses find having a collection of paper archive documents to be very comforting and it’s this reassurance that prevents them from making the most of the electronic document management solutions which are available.
Although the paperless office is still some way away, the move towards paperless systems is unstoppable. Even in this age of electronic filing and cloud storage, destroying paper evidence feels very dangerous to many companies and there is a real reluctance to make a complete move towards a digital system.
The majority of original paper documents are destroyed because they are no longer required, with the aim of freeing up document storage space. However, some forms of documentation are the exception to the rule and title deeds, leases and HMRC tax forms, for example, should be kept. Many companies labour under the misconception that these important documents have to be stored in their original paper format but this is definitely not the case. Provided that digital documents are captured and then managed in the correct way, they are equally as valid as their paper originals.
Using an electronic document management system makes sense on a number of levels. Efficient document management means a great deal more than scanning documents and then storing them in a digital format. It offers the capability to capture relevant information from data and to use this data to drive a fully automated electronic process. Of course electronic document management is a great storage solution but it also comes into its own when used as a way to track payments or to streamline and automate the approval of a wide range of legal documents, for example.
One of the most significant benefits of switching to an electronic document management system is that it will create an audit trail that will prove vital in the event of any potential legal challenge. Once operational documents have been captured and then stored in an electronic document management system, they will always be available for retrieval. Provided the provenance of a document is transparent and that its integrity cannot be questioned, then the question of Legal Admissibility will not come into play.
With the issue of Legal Admissibility in mind, it’s important that you make sure the electronic document management system you use will ensure you are on the right side of the law. Before shredding your paperwork archive, you should check whether the scanned documents are exact replicas of the original, if they can be used as reliable evidence and what the legal regulations are around electronic document management in your particular sector. Your electronic document management supplier will be able to answer these questions.
Whilst making the most of the latest developments in document scanning and electronic management, you should also make sure that your business’s internal processes are up to scratch. To ensure the legal admissibility of electronic information, the British Standard BS 1008:20081 should be met. Complying with this code will offer you the reassurance that you are doing as much as possible to meet official document storage requirements. Whether you decide to use a cloud based storage solution or a web portal, using an electronic document management solution is now no longer a luxury, it has become essential for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
If you were asked whether you’d like to be able to share information more easily, free up storage space, improve business productivity and to increase your response time to your customers you’re likely to say yes, aren’t you? These are the kind of things that can give your business the competitive edge and improve your environmental credentials – sounds too good to be true? The answer is that it’s not – provided you rely less on paper and more on electronic document management.
Going ‘paper-free’ has been proven to offer a pretty return on investment: managing paper costs an awful lot of money and when you think about the costs involved in buying paper, printing costs, copying equipment and supplies, paper storage systems and then the price of postage and couriers, it can all start to seem very expensive indeed.
Electronic communication has been around for some time now and the possibility of a paperless office isn’t quite the futuristic idea it once was. However, although the technology now exists to turn the dream of a paperless office into a reality, it doesn’t look like this is about to happen any time soon. On the other hand, it is possible to take a few relatively simple steps towards moving away from your reliance on paper, files, folders and filing cabinets – all of which need space, time and money to manage.
Rather than setting an unrealistic goal of going completely paper-free, it perhaps better to introduce paper-free systems or processes one at a time. For example, you could start by introducing a policy to convert every paper document into digital as soon as it arrives in the office. This can prove to be highly effective – and surprisingly easy to implement – especially if it helps to cut down or even eliminate the amount of internal mail you, and your employees, have to deal with.
If you’d like to start the move towards a paper-free office, it can be helpful by starting with an audit of the types of paper your businesses uses such as contracts, invoices, receipts or personal correspondence, for example. Look at where paper is dragging your business down, any areas where paper is reducing flexibility or taking up too much space in the office. Work out what the biggest problem is and tackle that first – you’ll soon notice the difference.
A whole range of electronic calendars and project management systems are available; these are a cheap and easy way to cut down on paper and that seemingly endless round of documents which seem to be passed from one office department to another. Or why not try putting just a couple of hours a week aside to devote to document scanning and then shredding any paperwork which has recently accumulated, such receipts or the minutes of meetings? A few simple steps such as these really can make all the difference.
Going paper free can seem very daunting and if you feel unsure of your expertise, why not consider consulting a specialist document management company? The benefits are clear and wide-reaching and the sooner you get started on your journey towards a paper-free office, the sooner you’ll start to see a return on your investment.