Past practices of keeping large format documents in a hard copy form are quickly going the way of the dodo. In an increasingly digital world, it's getting harder to justify boxes of file folders that take up so much space they need their own storage facility to protect.
The following article will take an in-depth look at the benefits of scanning documents, particularly from a small business perspective since corporations have long since moved to the practice out of necessity. Before we get there, however, let's talk about what "scanning" actually means.
What We Mean By Digitized Files
Digital scanning has improved by leaps and bounds since it first came to the Internet age. It's now crucial to the process of digitizing files, thanks in large part to the following.
Scanning at a High Quality
Pixel resolution and magnification play large roles in digitizing documents at a higher quality. As high definition has become the norm, we've become more capable of reproducing documents that can be magnified at extremely high levels without the quality degrading.
It's not uncommon to "see" a document better on a computer screen than if you were holding it in your hands. However, the quality of the scan is only half of what makes this practice beneficial to small businesses.
Optical Character Recognition
Learning how to digitize documents isn't complete until you've embraced optical character recognition. OCR has been around for decades in some capacity, but the 2000s enabled us to integrate it with scanner technology.
Now, computers are capable of recognizing text from an image. This enables small businesses to turn all their documents (even very old ones) into searchable archived materials.
Digital File Management
You can scan at high resolution and extract text from images. Great. Now, what do you do with it, and isn't it going to require a ton of storage?
Large corporations may have this issue due to the high volume of materials in their care. Small businesses won't require nearly as much, but they do require something. Still, when you compare the cost of digital storage for all your files to the cost of a physical storage location, it's a no-brainer.
9 Benefits of Scanning Documents
Now that we've covered what we mean by digitizing files, it's time to look at the core benefits of doing it. The following are "wins" you can begin enjoying immediately, regardless of the size of your business.
1. Always Having Access When You Need It
Any business owner who's ever had to deal with regulatory demands or tax audits knows a thing or two about how access to their documents can limit liability. It can save you money, headache, and even fines or jail time.
On the less extreme side, it allows a company to track its activities in a variety of areas. Expenses, training, revenues, you name it!
2. Maintaining a Professional Reputation
Companies that regularly lose or misplace documents fail to earn a professional reputation in the eyes of their clients and the public-at-large. Instituting the digitizing of large format documents will give you an edge over other similarly-sized businesses that are treating it as an afterthought.
3. Reducing the Need for Physical Space
Prior to the rise of document digitization, small businesses could find themselves in situations where they had to purchase additional real estate just to store everything. Even then, their documents were not safe from natural disasters, theft, and other unexpected occurrences.
4. Cutting Expenses
Buying less physical storage is one avenue to save money. That isn't the only way digitization has helped slash expenses, though.
Small businesses, in particular, have found going paperless to bring with it an undeniable return on investment. It has negated the need to hire low-skilled workers for the exclusive purpose of file management, and it has eliminated other overhead associated with storage (i.e., paper costs, copy machines, toner, file folders, etc.).
5. Improving Workflow for Employees
Digitization has provided employees with a faster way to get things done. It has done so by allowing them to access and transmit key documents in a second or two instead of putting them through the rigmarole of a dozen unnecessary administrative tasks.
This improvement in workflow represents an inarguable upside to automation. It's one that values the full talents of employees instead of forcing them into roles that anyone can do.
6. Fostering Transparency
Many small businesses work in industries that are subject to transparency laws and a heightened focus on safety and accountability. This demand for transparency, particularly in industries like transportation, pushes many small businesses toward digitizing their documents.
That said, small businesses across the board can get out ahead of any future transparency needs through digitization. They do this by starting where they are and transferring their important files to the digital world at every level.
7. Credentialing Employees
Industries that require continuing education and high levels of rigorous training also bring with them a great deal of paperwork. Being able to find and share documentation digitally takes some of the stress out of things should one of their employee's training and credentials ever be called into question.
It may not preclude accountability for the employee if they are at-fault for something. However, it provides an extra layer of protection for companies that can easily show they're making every effort to employ the best.
8. Helping the Environment
Paperless means a reduced footprint when it comes to the environment. The world of today values businesses of all sizes that seek to protect the world in which they're operating. This is the easiest path to accomplishing just that.
9. Boosting Productivity
In addition to the improved workflow that employees can experience through digitization, they also get more done thanks to reducing the amount of time spent on "lesser" tasks. Also, digitization has enabled remote access, or the ability to work from anywhere at any time.
Digitizing Large Format Documents Helps Every Business
Being able to address large format documents is one of the greatest features of digital scanning and digitization. Ready to make digital integration a reality for your company? Contact MES Hybrid Document Systems to get started today.