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Constantly evolving technology and legislation is changing how businesses work. This is particularly the case when it comes to document management. Digitising documents can help improve efficiency, information security and productivity. The challenge for realising such benefits can be, where to start?
It’s the hot topic of the moment, but the pending GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has put a focus on businesses’ data and document management in a bigger way than it has been for a long time. While there’s a great deal of advice available to SMEs on the topic – some conflicting – one thing is clear, now is as good a time as any for organisations to review their data management structure, policies and procedures.
Business technology solutions provider Brother UK, conducted research (1) to better understand document management in SMEs and were surprised to find that, while almost 3 in 4 SMEs (72%) still keep paper records containing customer information, more than a quarter (28%) haven’t reviewed their paper management policy in over three years. Concerns about the implications of that for data protection regulation are one thing, but business leaders could also be missing a trick when it comes to efficiently and securely managing their documents.
Almost two thirds of SMEs (65%) say they’re planning to digitise their documents ahead of 25th May 2018, when GDPR becomes law, but where should you start?
A successful route to digitisation begins with understanding how your organisation is using paper. Businesses can carry out a print audit, which will identify where paper may be being used inefficiently and highlight areas where digitising documents could help to address this.
While paper records are a requirement for some heavily regulated sectors, industry bodies like the FCA and HRMC are continuously updating their guidance to allow for less reliance on hard copies and more digitisation. Archives can therefore be searched quicker, with all the information in one place, rather than employees trying to track down paper documents.
Alongside improved efficiency, digitising hard copies can also help businesses improve their information security and stop sensitive data falling into the wrong hands. Companies can use scanner technologies to restrict personnel access, which helps prevent unauthorised scanning and distribution of scanned documents.
Secure scanning can also be set-up to stop documents being scanned to external devices like USBs, providing companies with better control over what information leaves their systems and offices. As well as reducing security breaches and protecting business integrity, these steps help demonstrate accountability.
While it is likely paper will always play a part in some business processes, going digital now could pay dividends in the future. Legislation is changing, and the environment businesses are working in is becoming increasingly flexible. The ability to have the most up to date information to hand in an organised and secure place whenever it is needed will not only support with GDPR compliance, but can help companies work in the most efficient way possible.