Information Management Issues

Scanning vs. Storage
Technology is allowing the world to move away from paper storage. In fact, 90 percent of new documents generated today are digital. But due to the long retention periods of many of the existing paper documents, there is still a consistent need to access these paper documents.

What is the best solution? Should I keep my documents in a paper format and store them or scan them all into an electronic format?

The best solution is based on your needs. You should utilize a system which intelligently organizes your documents based on the ease of access and the frequency of your retrieving them. The following are options you should consider for your business before making the decision to either scan documents or continue to store them in paper format.

If you have inactive paper files which will probably not need to be accessed on a regular basis, the best decision may be to keep those documents stored in a paper format. This can be done on-site or off-site if space is a large concern, as long as you have an organized filing system which allows you to be able to find what you need when you need it.

If you have paper files you use on a regular basis, options may include:

  • Scanning all of those files and saving them as digital versions. The largest advantage is the ease of access to these documents when you do need them. The disadvantage is the cost.
  • A second alternative is to store the physical documents and scan the documents on an as-needed basis. This is often called Image on Demand. It is much less costly but still allows for electronic access.
  • Selective imaging is a third alternative. You may have files which are 10 pages long, but you only truly need the first two pages. These front two pages could be scanned and the remaining eight pages could be stored physically. This could greatly reduce the cost of scanning the entire file.

Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all in terms of filing and access needs. The key is to take the time to size up your situation. You must decide which is the best option for your business considering the costs and benefits of each. IBI