The big questions to ask yourself before starting a digital document scanning project.


Managing a digital document scanning project might seem like a daunting task – especially when it comes to security and compliance. But you can take each challenge head-on with careful planning across a few key areas.

There have been a lot of changes in the last few years when it comes to how a business needs to handle its documentation.

And with the Information Commissioner’s Office now able to issue fines of up to 4% of a company’s annual turnover, or €20 million, it’s become increasingly important to have effective procedures in place to handle data and information.

An often-underestimated part of this requirement is the number of documents and how they are handled – especially when digitised.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the challenges you might face – and the steps you could take to tackle them – as part of a digital scanning project.

What is digital document scanning? 

The process of taking business-critical information off paper – so easily lost, damaged or stolen – and into a secure digital environment.

There are many benefits to completing this process efficiently and effectively. Save space by removing the need for rooms full of file cabinets, save time by making the finding of documents faster and save money by reducing expenditure on paper.

Where do I start? 

Begin the process by clearly defining the scope of work you have in front of you.

It’s common for businesses to rush into it, underestimating the quantity and processes involved. This can cause headaches with capacity while also affecting quality and security.

Thankfully, there’s a solution – an audit of your documentation before you begin. Then you’ll be able to establish the number of documents you have to handle, their type and use, where any electronic images need to reside and how documents will be accessed after you’re done.

Understanding compliance.

Generating an understanding of governance and compliance can be a good starting point for determining your strategy for digital document scanning.

This is the area of expertise of compliance officers, but should you require assistance in designing and driving the governance your business needs, you can work with a team of consultants from a supplier like Ricoh.

Preparing your documents. 

There is some prep work to be done before you can scan your paper documents.

Remove any staples, paper clips, tape or bindings. Ensure pages are flat without folds or creases to ensure scanning is smooth. Prepare documents for indexing.

And of course, you’ll need to decide who is going to complete these task – and whether they have the required knowledge to know which documents need to take priority.

What challenges might I face? 

By taking the time to consider a few key elements of the process before you begin, you’ll find your transition much smoother from paper to digital. Security, searchability, quality, accuracy, GDPR and confidentiality – it’s a lot to have to think about.

Here, we’ll go into a little more detail and offer a clear suggestion for your approach.

Security.

Security used to be the responsibility of your supplier. But now, following GDPR, you hold joint responsibility.

You need to be able to rest easy knowing that confidential items remain confidential. That documents that need to be destroyed are done so correctly. That there is proper protection given to information that requires password protection. And that access is only available to those who should have it.

So how do you go about making sure your supplier can be trusted to provide peace of mind? Accreditations. Look out for the following four:

  • ISO9001 Quality Management – sets out of the requirements for a quality management system, which helps businesses and organisations to be more efficient and improves customer satisfaction
  • ISO14001 Environmental Management System – shows that the supplier provides practical tools to manage environmental responsibilities
  • ISO/IEC Information Management Security – shows that the supplier has a systematic approach to information security and managing risk
  • BS10008 Legal Admissibility of Electronic Information – A British standard that outlines best practice for the implementation and operation of electronic information management systems

The chain of custody.

The chain of custody is a chronological paper trail that records every stage of a document’s lifecycle.

It’s a record of who is handling the document, how many times it has been handled when it was requested and a description of the document itself.

Knowing this information is important, as it allows you to determine where your records are stored, how to retrieve them quickly and who has requested files. Any supplier you choose must be able to guarantee these points.

Quality, accuracy and searchability.

When it comes to these factors, there are quite a few boxes to be ticked.

You need to make sure there are quality controls in place to ensure that all documentation has been accurately prepared, indexed and archived. That any files are tagged in a way that makes them easy to locate, access and report upon.

And there are underlying factors beneath that which you also need to consider in order to achieve success. How have the people in charge of this process been trained? How will any activity be tracked, monitored and recorded?

It comes back to accreditation again – particularly for the Legal Admissibility of Electric Information, BS10008.

If your supplier has this accreditation, you can rely on them to provide a digital scanning service that follows best practice when migrating paper records to digital files and transferring electronic information between systems.

The retention and destruction of hard copies.

You might need to design a document retention policy that adheres to the legal requirements of keeping certain hard copy documents for specific time periods.

This should detail the document, the length of time it should be kept, as well as details of how the document should be destroyed – a process which needs to be secure, confidential and tracked.

A supplier like Ricoh can work with your business and manage this as part of their service.

 What is the best solution?

Your organisation might already have the team and technology in place to attempt a digital document scanning project. And you might want to retain all your documents on-site at all times for greater control, but this approach will always be a costly avenue to take.

We recommend that you consider outsourcing any or all of the process as your most viable option. Not only will this allow your business to focus on core activities, increase efficiency and reduce cost and overhead but – should you work with a company like Ricoh – you will benefit from a more consultative approach and technological enhancements. 

Ricoh’s Scanning and Archiving Service.

Ricoh’s managed scanning and archiving service provide a full end-to-end electronic document and records management solution, conducted at your premises, offsite, or a hybrid of the two completely tailored around your needs.

Our technology and expertise combine to help you capture, index, retrieve and secure your documents, and includes both front- and back-end processes. We can run the entire system for you in-house, freeing up your employees to focus on other areas of the business.

Key benefits include:

  • Consultation with our industry experts to create a bespoke solution designed around your business
  • Document collection and preparation
  • Scanning of your hard copy documents into a digital document
  • Document indexing for easy retrieval
  • Records management and quality control checking

Ricoh can also help you prepare your workplace for being ‘paper-lite’ and introduce new processes to your business.

Start your digital print scanning process with Ricoh.

There’s a lot to take in and prepare for when you’re going paperless. To learn more about how Ricoh can help you, take a look at our Why Ricoh? Guide.

Take advantage of Ricoh’s expertise and find the perfect solution for your business.

Your processes are just one element of an efficient and effective business. Download our Optimal Office guide to find out what else you need to consider.

And if you have any questions about any of the content within this article, please feel free to drop me a line on LinkedIn.


Damien Webb
Damien Webb
damien.webb@ricoh.co.uk

Business Development Manager at Ricoh UK & Ireland

Read all articles by Damien Webb