But wait, what is document scanning? What is digitization?
Scanning your documents is a kind of digitization, which is the process of converting non-digital information formats like paper or microfilm into digital formats, like PDFs. When your documents get scanned, they’re put into a machine that creates a digital image copy that you can use instead.
Why digitize your documents?
Before we get into the specific ways that digitizing can benefit you, here are some of the general advantages of digital documents. Click on each of the advantages below to learn more.
Because digital documents don’t take up any physical space, they’re much easier and cheaper to store in large numbers. Just one 1-terabyte hard drive, only slightly larger than a deck of cards, can store over 83 million pages of text. And if you want your documents to take up no space at all, you can upload them to a cloud server, where they’ll stay secure and accessible as long as you have internet access.
Being stored in hard drives and cloud servers also makes digital documents more secure than paper. While there are many ways to safeguard physical documents, these security measures can become very expensive very quickly, and once a thief has their hands on your document, they can steal or destroy any information they want, and you might never know who did it.
There are many effective ways to prevent people from getting their hands on digital documents too, but they’re far more cost-effective than physical security measures. Even if a thief succeeds in digitally accessing your documents, digital files can be encrypted, making the information they contain unusable unless unlocked with a password.
Digital systems also automatically keep track of which user did what with each file and at what time, keeping every user in your system accountable. Should one of your members or an external bad actor decide to mess with your information, this data about your data (or metadata) will keep a record of it.
Paper documents, on the other hand, can be read or altered by anyone at any time, so long as they can get their hands on them, and you’ll never know who it was unless they tell you or do a bad job covering their tracks.
Another advantage of digital files’ incredible storage efficiency is that they are easier to share and distribute. If you want to send a paper file to a colleague in another location, you will both need to have a fax machine, or you’ll have to mail it there or take it to them yourself.
Digital files can be sent halfway around the world in moments for no extra cost. Many digital sharing tools also include live collaboration features that make working on a project together.
Digital files can be accessed from anywhere, allowing you and your employees to work from home, at the office, while travelling on business, or anywhere else good internet connections can be found.
The storage advantages of digital also make it easier to find and retrieve documents when you need them, minimizing the amount of time you spend searching through your folders.
While the physical presence of paper documents might be reassuring, it’s also a liability. When you only have one copy of a paper document, damaging or losing it means you’ve lost the entire document. You could make copies, but over multiple years of business, that means creating hundreds, if not thousands, of paper copies, all of which take up extra space and cost money to print.
Digital documents, on the other hand, cost nothing to duplicate and take up no storage space, so it’s extremely easy to create numerous copies of a digital file and save them in multiple locations, giving you vitally important redundancy should anything happen to the original file.
How does document scanning improve regulation compliance?
Many industries have specific regulations and compliance requirements related to data management, document retention, privacy, and security. Here are a few ways in which digitization can help organizations meet regulatory compliance:
Better Document Organization
Digitizing your documents makes it easier to retrieve and access your documents. With a comprehensive document management system, you can establish consistent file naming conventions, metadata tagging, and folder structures, making it easier to locate and retrieve documents when needed. Compliance auditors often require access to specific records, and digital document management enables faster retrieval, ensuring that you can quickly provide the necessary information to demonstrate compliance.
Better Data Security and Access Controls
Canadian document management regulations emphasize data security and the protection of sensitive information. Physical documents are vulnerable to theft, loss, or damage, which can lead to compliance violations. Digitization provides the opportunity to implement robust security measures such as encryption, access controls, and user permissions. Digital documents can be stored in secure servers or cloud platforms with regular backups, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.
Streamlined Audit Reporting Processes
No company wants to be audited by the CRA, but unfortunately, audits are inevitable. Digitization simplifies the process by providing an organized and centralized repository of documents, making it easier to generate necessary reports and provide documentation for audits. With digital documents, you can track document versions, maintain an audit trail, and demonstrate compliance with specific requirements outlined by regulatory bodies.
Better Document Retention and Destruction
Canadian document regulations mandate specific retention periods for all business records. Managing physical documents over extended periods can be cumbersome and prone to errors. Digitization allows you to establish automated retention policies and workflows, ensuring compliance with document retention requirements. Additionally, when the time comes for document destruction, digital documents can be securely and permanently deleted more easily, reducing the risk of non-compliance related to improper disposal.
How does document scanning improve business performance?
Digitizing your documents can have a transformative impact on business performance, improving operational efficiency and enhancing the overall customer experience. Here’s a breakdown of how digitization can benefit both aspects:
Time & Cost Savings
Digitizing documents eliminates the need for manual handling, searching, and processing of physical files. This saves significant time and reduces operational costs associated with tasks like manual data entry, document filing, and retrieval. Digital documents can be accessed and shared instantly, streamlining workflows and improving overall operational efficiency.
Digital documents can be easily shared and collaborated on, enabling teams to work together seamlessly regardless of geographical location. Real-time access to digital files facilitates faster decision-making, improves collaboration, and boosts productivity.
Improved Document Management
Digital document management systems provide advanced features like version control, document tracking, and automated workflows. These capabilities streamline document management processes, reducing errors, minimizing duplication, and ensuring that the most up-to-date information is readily available.
Faster Response Times
Digitization enables quick access to customer information and relevant documents, allowing your team to respond promptly to customer queries and requests. With digital documents, customer interactions can be handled more efficiently, resulting in faster response times and improved customer satisfaction.
Personalized & Tailored Experiences
Digitized documents and data enable better customer insights and analysis. By leveraging customer information, preferences, and historical interactions, businesses can provide a more personalized customer experience.
Efficient Document Retrieval & Processing
With digitized documents, businesses can quickly retrieve and process customer-related information. This leads to reduced wait times, smoother transactions, and a more seamless customer experience. For example, in sectors like banking or insurance, digital document processing speeds up loan applications, claims processing, and policy renewals, enhancing customer satisfaction.
Secure & Accessible Information
Digitization ensures that customer information is stored securely and can be accessed only by authorized personnel. This builds trust and confidence in customers, knowing that their sensitive data is protected. Additionally, digital records allow customers to access their own information easily, such as invoices, purchase history, or support tickets, empowering them with self-service options.