Going Paperless – Why Design an Online Document Archive as Part of Your Site
Certain kinds of businesses, communities and projects generate an awful lot of stuff on paper. We all have experienced the downsides of this – all those important documents, drawings, blueprints for the new death ray and so on not only mess up the place where you are trying to work, but also can be a total pain to work with. We are used to being able to edit as we go, zoom in and out, share with people on other continents and secure that information behind a ‘strong’ password and a Turing test at the click of a mouse, and can we do any of those things with a piece of paper? No, we cannot. Paper archives also require people who know about and like filing, and really, how many of those do you have in your team?
Online Archives Are Great
Paperless offices then, are not just a lot better for the environment, they are also a lot better for the sanity of everybody who has to work in them. It is clear from this fact alone that having as part of your website or intranet some kind of full, searchable document archive (which of course, can have all kinds of fancy security levels and protection on it) is a good idea. This is actually not that difficult to do from a ‘moving forward’ perspective, there are all kinds of third party platforms that can help you whether you want something like Sharepoint that lets you collaborate in real time on documents, or just want to use a CRM to have readable versions available online. The real problem is, how do you get what could be many years’ worth of old paper information into the new, hi tech repository?
Scan, and Convert
It is fairly obvious that one thing that is going to need to happen to achieve your paperless dream is to scan every important paper asset and create a digital version of it. Scanning is a lot better than it used to be, so rather than ending up with some ropey, illegible photocopy looking thing you can now end up with a pristine looking document scan that can be converted into a format where it can actually be searched in the same way as if it had been a digital document all along. This is part of what is going to make your online archive so great, but you are probably not thrilled by the idea of manually doing all of that scanning, especially if you have not just boxes but whole rooms full of paper assets you absolutely need to keep hold of the info from.
Happily, document scanning companies, for example Scantronix, are a thing that exists. These types of companies will collect everything you want scanned, and create your scanned, converted, searchable digital copies for you, meaning no lumbering any of your team with what would almost certainly soon become known as ‘the dreaded scanning’.
It really is worth putting in a plan to switch to a paperless archive – it’ll boost productivity, reduce frustration, and allow you to make more and more of your assets available to people (should you want them seen) or protect them more diligently (should you not).