You’ve chosen an electronic document management system (EDMS), you’ve set up your scanners – now what? What should you scan first? Do you need to scan everything? These are questions that every organization faces as they make the switch from a paper filing system to an electronic filing system. Here are some thoughts for those just starting their paperless journey:

A Line in the Sand First, commit right now to scanning and shredding all new documents. Mark the date on your calendar, and make sure every employee knows it. Starting today, nothing gets put in a banker’s box or a filing cabinet unless you are required by law to keep the original document. It takes the same amount of time or less to scan a piece of paper as it does to physically file that same piece of paper, and once scanned, you’ll immediately start to reap some of the benefits of the paperless office that you signed up for, including faster retrieval and zero storage space. Drawing a line in the sand for scanning documents also lets everyone in the office know where to look for a file. If it was created after Day 1, it will be in your EDMS.

Back-scanning While Scan123 strongly recommends that every organization scan all documents going forward, the decision to backscan your archived files will depend on your situation. If you have a set schedule for destroying documents, it’s perfectly acceptable to purge your file room by simply allowing your paper files to become obsolete and shredding them. The primary benefit of this approach is that you spend no additional time or money to scan those files. The downside is that it will likely take you years to fully realize the benefits of using an electronic document management system. As long as you have a substantial number of unscanned files in file cabinets, they will be insecure, not backed up, and inefficient to access in comparison to scanned documents in your EDMS. Because of this, most organizations do some amount of backscanning, but there are a number of different strategies for how to go about it. For instance, at Gresham Toyota, where we designed and field-tested Scan123, the dealership decided to only backscan old paper files when they had to be retrieved. So if you had to pull a parts order, after you were finished with it, you scanned and shredded it instead of returning it to the filing cabinet. This method requires little to no extra time by integrating scanning into employees’ regular work, but is relatively slow at getting through your archived files. Other organizations choose to scan only their most recent files from the last year or the last six months, purging the rest of their files according to their document retention schedule. Files to be scanned can also be prioritized by frequency of use or cost of retrieval. For example, a type or group of files that are accessed multiple times a day should perhaps be first on the list of files to scan, while clearing out an off-site storage unit can save you a monthly fee as well as time and gas to drive there.

Who scans? Depending on the number of scanners you’ve purchased, the task of scanning can be distributed amongst employees or may be the sole responsibility of one person. During a back-scanning initiative, a single employee may be temporarily reassigned to full-time scanning. Employees such as receptionists and cashiers can often scan files in between helping customers and answering phones, as scanning and uploading a document to your EDMS can take less than a minute. For organizations that do choose to scan everything or a large number of files, there are also a number of local companies to which you can contract out your scanning, usually at $0.05 – $0.10 per page.

We hope that this has been some good food for thought as you evaluate how to start scanning at your organization. Still have questions? Let us know in the comments, give us a call at 888-481-3727, or get a free demo of Scan123.