Digitising documents makes remote work simpler

Digitising paper-based information enables it to work within a CMS and thus be accessible to the home worker. It also offers businesses better bang for their buck.

Johannesburg, 03 Aug 2021
Read time 4min 10sec
Jonathan Osbourne, Altron Document Solutions, head of sales.
Jonathan Osbourne, Altron Document Solutions, head of sales.

Something that has been a permanent fixture in the business world for decades is the need for print services. After all, every organisation has an archive of paper-based documentation that its employees can access when business requires it.

The challenge these enterprises face today is that with the majority of people working from home, employees now have far less access to historic, paper-based records. By digitising these, it makes it possible for remote workers to access information that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

According to Jonathan Osbourne, Head of Sales for Altron Document Solutions (ADS), this means focusing – at least initially – on the most recent and relevant documentation. He suggests the focus should be on the last two years, as you would not want to waste time or money digitising reams of data that may never be accessed by workers.

“Once you have identified the documents that must be digitised, it needs to be captured (scanned) in a structured and intelligent manner to work within a content management system (CMS) through which it can be made accessible to the home worker,” he says.

“Then, of course, you also need to ensure the scanned document is not only secured in order to be compliant with local and international data protection laws, but the data within the document is secured; this can be achieved through redaction, audit trails and encryption.”

He suggests a good approach to the digitisation of an archive is to choose a date to begin the process and ensure that all landscape or BAU (business as usual) processes from that date forward is captured electronically and aligned to the rules, policies and practices applied in the back scanning process. At the same, choose a period looking backwards – perhaps a year or maybe two – and focus on digitising all the documentation from that period, as this is the data most likely to be remotely accessed by your remote workers.

“The key to successful digitisation is drafting a clear scope of work that documents and outlines all aspects of the project. This includes process and structures for different data and content groups such as supplier agreements, contracts, employee records, among others. A costly and time-consuming part of the project lies in getting the physical documents properly prepared beforehand. This is to ensure they can be scanned effectively, and such preparation includes removing staples, paper clips, sticky notes and the like. It is this initial manual labour that takes the time.

“In light of the challenges thrown up by COVID-19, back-scanning or digitisation projects have the potential to support L&D (learning and developing) initiatives."

An example of this would be repurposing and developing on-site support staff who normally would sort out issues like toner and paper for the printers. This is key to cost efficiency and much needed employment.

“By enabling them to digitise content, we create a true win-win scenario: they are in a position to help the client progress their digital strategy, ensure the data is secure and meets compliance rules and, thanks to additional training by the service provider, will also be able to grow their skills. This will make them more employable in future.”

He indicates that managed print services (MPS) providers have suggested this as a compromise with customers who are unhappy paying for MPS when no one is in the office.

“Customers get additional benefits from such an approach too. When it comes time for auditing, for example, digital information allows auditors to work remotely and access all the relevant information. At the same time, it ensures they can do their jobs both more effectively and in a far shorter time period.”

Perhaps the best longer term benefit is the fact that once your information is digitised, he continues, it becomes a simple task to implement an intelligent workspace, where one can leverage AI and analytics to discover trends and patterns that can further help improve the business.

“What it boils down to is that by digitising your information, you improve compliance, security and increase productivity and efficiency with remote employees. Furthermore, it provides you with the ability to leverage this structured data to improve both the business and its revenue. Ultimately, it will save you money too, because it creates enormous efficiencies by enabling you to give the right people access to the right data at the right time, thereby enabling the right decisions to be made,” he concludes.

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