Legacy paper-based workflows are being phased out faster and faster. Businesses, and the world at large, are moving towards digital document and contract management. That means document digitization is no longer optional. It’s necessary to keep pace with the changing environment we find ourselves in.
Document digitization can help you accelerate and streamline complex workflow processes while slashing costs. Or, it can be an endless pit where you spend a lot of time and money without much return.
How do you make sure it’s the first scenario?
In this guide, you’ll learn what document digitization is, the benefits it brings to the table, and how to implement it properly.
What is document digitization?
Document digitization is the process of converting physical documents into various electronic formats. To make this happen, you’ll need to capture the content of a document using specialized technology, such as scanners, and convert it into an electronic file format. Once it has been digitized, it can be stored, accessed, and managed digitally.
Digitizing documents allow you to reduce or eliminate the need for physical storage space, minimize the risk of loss or damage to important records, and increase efficiency by enabling faster and more accurate document retrieval. Digitized documents can also be easily shared and accessed remotely, making it easier to collaborate and work from different locations.
Overall, document digitization is a crucial step when looking to modernize record-keeping processes, automate legacy contract management workflows, improve efficiency, and reduce costs associated with physical document storage and management.
What Documents Can Be Digitized?
In reality, any type of document can be digitized but it doesn’t make sense to digitize all potential documents. Some have a higher priority while others won’t have a material positive impact on your work so they could be left aside. Below, are a few types of documents that make the most sense to digitize.
- Legal documents: Legal documents, such as contracts, agreements, and court records, are often extensive and require careful management. Digitizing legal documents can streamline their storage, retrieval, and sharing, allowing you or other people on your team to easily search and access relevant information, collaborate remotely, and maintain organized and secure digital archives.
- Business documents: Businesses generate and manage numerous types of documents, including invoices, receipts, reports, and employee records. Digitizing business documents can simplify record-keeping, reduce the need for physical storage space, and improve overall efficiency in document management processes, leading to cost savings and increased productivity.
- Medical records: Digitizing medical records, including patient charts, test results, and medical histories, can enhance patient care and streamline administrative processes in healthcare settings. Digitized medical records can be easily accessed by healthcare providers, shared securely among different healthcare facilities, and provide quick and accurate information for patient care decisions.
- Historical and cultural documents: Documents such as manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials, can preserve and protect valuable heritage for future generations. Digitization allows wider access to these materials for research, education, and cultural preservation purposes, while minimizing the risks of damage or loss associated with physical handling and storage.
- Personal documents: Documentation like passports, identification cards, and personal records, can provide individuals with a convenient and secure way to store and manage their important documents. Digitized personal documents can be easily accessed, shared with authorized parties, and backed up for safekeeping.
Benefits of Document Digitization
It’s by no means a magic bullet but document digitization provides multiple benefits for businesses, including:
- Improved efficiency: Digitizing documents can streamline document management processes while reducing the time and effort required to manage and retrieve documents. With digital files, documents can be easily accessed, searched, and shared, and they can be organized and indexed for faster retrieval.
- Cost savings: Digitizing documents can help you save money by reducing the need for physical storage space, paper supplies, and printing and copying equipment. This can lead to lower operational costs, as well as reduced expenses associated with physical document handling, storage, and retrieval.
- Enhanced security: Digital documents can be stored securely and protected with encryption and access controls, reducing the risk of unauthorized access, theft, or loss. Additionally, digitized documents can be backed up and stored in multiple locations, ensuring that important information is not lost due to disasters or other disruptions.
- Better collaboration: Digital documents can be shared and accessed by authorized parties, allowing for better collaboration among team members and stakeholders. With digitized documents, multiple users can access and edit documents from different locations, improving communication and collaboration.
- Environmentally friendly: Digitizing documents can reduce paper waste and help businesses meet sustainability goals. By reducing the need for physical document storage and paper-based processes, businesses can decrease their environmental footprint and support more sustainable business practices. When you work with DoxFlowy, a percentage of your purchase goes to help emerging technology combat climate change.
How to Digitize Documents
The following steps will describe how to go about digitizing documents. Keep in mind that this is a general outline and you may have more steps or fewer steps when implementing it in your organization.
The first step in document digitization is to prepare the documents for scanning. This may involve removing any staples, paper clips, or bindings from the documents, as well as ensuring that the pages are flat and free of wrinkles, folds, or tears. This is important so the documents can be scanned properly and produce high-quality digital images and files.
The next step is to scan the documents using a specialized scanner. There are different types of scanners available, including flatbed scanners, sheet-fed scanners, and automatic document feeders (ADF). The choice of scanner will depend on the type of documents being scanned and the desired output format.
- Image enhancement:
Once the documents have been scanned, they may need to be enhanced to improve the quality of the digital images. This can involve adjusting brightness, contrast, and color balance, as well as cropping, straightening, or rotating the images. Image enhancement is important to ensure that the digital images are clear, legible, and accurate.
- Indexing and metadata tagging:
After the digital images have been created, they may need to be indexed and tagged with metadata to facilitate easy retrieval and searching. This may involve adding information such as document type, date, author, and keywords that describe the content of the document.
- Quality control:
The final step in document digitization is to perform quality control checks to ensure that the digitized documents meet the required standards of accuracy, completeness, and quality. This may involve reviewing the digital images for errors or discrepancies, checking the metadata tags for accuracy, and ensuring that the digital files are properly named and organized.
Security and Compliance Considerations
Document digitization can provide significant benefits, including improved efficiency, cost savings, and better collaboration. However, there are also important security and compliance considerations that must be taken into account.
One of the main security concerns with document digitization is the risk of unauthorized access or theft of sensitive information. Digital documents are vulnerable to hacking, malware, and other cyber threats, which can compromise the security of the information they contain. To mitigate these risks, consider implementing robust security measures, such as encryption, access controls, and firewalls, to protect your digital documents from unauthorized access or theft.
In addition to security concerns, there are also compliance considerations that must be taken into account. Depending on the industry and jurisdiction, you may be subject to various regulations and compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, GDPR, or SOX, which govern the handling, storage, and retention of sensitive information. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in significant penalties and legal liability.
Establish clear policies and procedures for the handling and storage of digital documents to make sure you’re compliant. This may include implementing data retention policies, restricting access to sensitive information, and conducting regular audits to ensure compliance with applicable regulations.
Overall, document digitization can provide significant benefits for businesses, but it is important to take into account the security and compliance considerations involved. By implementing robust security measures and compliance procedures, you can ensure that their digital documents are protected from unauthorized access or theft, while also complying with applicable regulations and standards.
Real-Life Examples of Document Digitization
- Medical records: Many healthcare providers have digitized their medical records to improve patient care and streamline administrative processes. By digitizing medical records, healthcare providers can easily access patient information, including medical history, test results, and treatment plans, from a centralized electronic database.
This allows healthcare providers to make more informed decisions about patient care and improve the accuracy and efficiency of administrative processes, such as billing and insurance claims.
- Banking documents: Banks and financial institutions often digitize their documents to improve their operational efficiency and customer service. By digitizing account opening forms, loan applications, and other documents, banks can streamline their internal processes and reduce the time and resources required for manual document processing.
Digitized documents can also be accessed and shared securely with customers, providing a faster and more convenient way for customers to manage their accounts and access important financial information.
These are just two examples of how document digitization is being used in real-life situations to improve efficiency, streamline processes, and enhance customer service. By digitizing documents, businesses and organizations can realize significant benefits, including improved accuracy, faster processing times, and more efficient use of resources.
The way the world is moving, document digitization is no longer a what-if scenario. It’s now about how long until everyone adopts it.
It can be a costly and time-consuming process depending on the number of documents that need to be digitized but it’ll pay for itself over time. This guide has provided many of the benefits and a high-level overview of the process you may need to use.
All that’s left is to get started with document digitation and start reaping the benefits for yourself. Let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to share.