Much like the cluttered basement or the garage that can no longer serve its stated purpose of parking cars, procrastinators seem to always point to spring as a time to restore order in their world. Corporations are no different. Most businesses know instinctively that the concept of a file room is outdated, inefficient, costly and frankly dangerous. Ask yourself this simple question:
If this file cabinet, file shelf or file box were burned or otherwise destroyed, would it negatively impact my business?
If the answer is "yes", you just exposed the dangerous part of this question. But beyond that, what leverage would you have if the information contained in those files was immediately available to all authorized people in your organization?
The example that comes to mind is the attorney that thinks there may be an important point of precedence that was part of an earlier case file. Yes, it's important and might prove pivotal in the current case. But the time and expense to retrieve the file from Iron Mountain or some other paper repository is not justified by the hope that a legal pearl may exist within those archives. Now suppose that the time to check for that nugget of information was seconds instead of days. Being able to make queries like "show me every document that discusses the pipe wrench that killed Colonel Mustard" is quick to the point of trivial. That is how information contained in your document library can be leveraged to the advantage of the business enterprise.
The return on investment (ROI) calculation is simple. If you pay to make the final resting place for your documents be some "safe" off-site warehouse the size of a football field, then by the time you have stored those documents for 3 to 4 years, you would have paid more (even factoring present value of dollars to future) than if you scanned the documents and instituted a life cycle management program of document retention yourself. And if you actually retrieve and then re-file any of those stored boxes of paper, the ROI comes down to much less than 3 years due to the confiscatory fees that are charged for such services.
Now add to the straight ROI calculation the intangible but very real value of having all that information at your finger tips and the decision to clean up your document management garage should be a no brainer.
The number one objection to getting this done is usually the up-front cost. Even though the ROI calculation shows that over time you spend less and get more, there is no way to take away the fact that scanning of documents is a labor intensive process. You have to convert from paper to digital before any benefits can be realized. Many of our customers have said they would "gladly pay us tomorrow for a hamburger today"! PaperHost has listened. We know cash flows are tight, but we want to keep our excellent document production staff busy and employed. That is why PaperHost is actively working deals to allow our customers to get started today and spread the cost over may months or even years.
Of course the best way to get rid of document clutter is to never create it in the first place. PaperHost can work with companies to eliminate the need to print information on paper. That mean's intercepting data before it reaches the printer and allowing paper documents to be delivered as PDF files or go directly to document archives. Call us to learn more. But to the extent that paper will remain a part of your business work flow, we can help engineer the most efficient way to keep active documents available on-line and old documents available on optical media with free software to insure that your entire printed history remains available and retrievable forever.
It is gratifying to see companies embrace document management standards of excellence. Most find that a blend of scanning services with on-line hosting and long term optical retention is all they need to realize the benefits discussed above. But PaperHost enjoys taking next steps with our customers by finding ways to lift data from forms and documents, design workflows, build customer portals for accessing and viewing documents and much more. Once you start down the road to intelligent document management, you find more and more ways to leverage your valuable document assets.
- Jim Coyle