Back scanning documents: The pros and cons

Electronically scanning documents is a brilliant way of managing your business records, but as with any records management process there are benefits and negatives to consider before ploughing ahead with a new project.

The benefits of document scanning

  • Ease of access- scanning your documents into an electronic management system will make them easier to find and sift through using keywords, instead of having to manually sort through paper documents.
  • Disaster recovery- electronically storing your documents means you can easily make back-up copies, making disaster recovery considerably easier than trying to recover physical documents which can easily become damaged and irretrievable.
  • Creating space- Once your paper files and documents have been scanned and electronically stored there is no longer a need to keep the physical paper copies. The paper documents can be appropriately disposed of, allowing you to cut down on the amount of storage space you need.
  • Data security- Documents containing sensitive information can be more easily protected once they are stored in an electronic system. Passwords and data encryption can be used to secure the documents ensuring that only those authorised can access them.
  • Improved communication- Documents that are stored and managed electronically are much easier to pass on to others who need them using methods of communication such as email. It is also possible using some systems to see any edits made to a document along with the editors details and the time or date that the changes were made.

The disadvantages of document scanning

  • Time consuming- Back scanning all of your documents can require a large outlay of time, particularly if you have a lot of records that need to be scanned. Once each document has been scanned it will also need to be named and sorted into the right place within your management system.
  • Cost- The cost of purchasing scanning software and an electronic records management system can also be quite expensive. However, this cost should be weighed against the benefits that the system will bring to your business as it may be able to cut costs and save money in other areas.
  • Extra training- You may also have to spend extra time and money training your employees to use the new document management system. This is essential if the system is complicated and using it will be an integral part of their job.

Whilst there are some negative aspects to back scanning your documents, they are only one-off requirements. Costs and time can easily be recouped once an effective records management system is in place and most businesses find that having their documents stored and managed in an electronic environment is far more beneficial than using other forms of document management.

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