Each business will be different and the decision on how best to handle data & document storage should be based on the specific needs & requirements of the company. Understanding that there are some limitations in going completely digital, as well as any laws and regulations that require original files to be on record, today’s document management experts recommend that businesses maintain important documents in multiple formats.
Five benefits of storing document hard copies in today’s digital world:
1. Maintaining Authenticity
In order to remain in compliance, some businesses or industries are required to keep authentic files There are some industry-specific requirements that regulate what can be kept digitally and what must maintain authenticity – whether it be the document itself or in some cases, documents require handwritten signatures, versus digital signatures. Regulations like this can vary by the type of business, but more heavily regulated industries like finance, law, and medicine may have state and federal laws governing how records should be maintained.
2. Effective for the Long Term
If your needs dictate storing records for more than a few decades, hard copy storage may have the advantage over digital files. Think about the types of storage in your lifetime that have already become obsolete – floppy discs, cassette tapes, microfilm, etc. While it is possible to transfer data from one form of electronic storage to another, there is also a risk of losing quality during the transfer process. When stored properly, paper documents have a shelf life of about 200 years.
While storing documents digitally is more convenient, there is never 100% assurance that networks won’t be breached or issues won’t occur with data backup. Networks can go down and viruses do spread. Due to the ease of accessibility via networking, electronic files are simply more vulnerable to theft. When stored properly in a secure location, there is no chance of unauthorized use of a hard copy.
4. Digital Scanning Can Result in Data Loss
When scanning documents for digital storage, human error comes into play. Sections of documents can be missed or distorted and side-by-side comparison with hard copies is time-consuming and too often skipped over. Naturally, knowing how to scan documents properly can help avoid these concerns. When you do need to digitize documents, consider hiring a professional document management firm to eliminate these risks.
5. Destruction is Final
When it is time to destroy documents, the responsibility to effectively destroy records falls directly on the business. When documents are stored digitally, they can be found in various locations – on networks, in emails, on phones, etc. Even documents that have been “deleted” can often be retrieved. When paper documents are securely shredded, destruction is final and guaranteed.
Even though we are living in a cloud-based world, hard copy documents are still an incredibly relevant means of storing important data. All things considered, responsible document management calls for a good blend of using both the physical and digital resources available to you to best meet your specific business requirements.
Talk with our team to learn more about how we can help with your document storage and management needs!