Considering going paperless?
In the wake of November’s earthquake, many businesses were unable to access their offices and any critical files stored physically on site. Many tenants of condemned buildings have permanently lost their physical filing systems.
For those businesses running a ‘paperless’ solution to their document filing and storage, November’s earthquake showed how valuable a cloud-based storage system can be.
If the quake’s disruption has provided the final push toward a ‘paperless’ solution, then read on…
Firstly, the term ‘paperless’ is a misnomer, so before you throw away the printer, remember that you may not be able to escape entirely from paper. ‘Digital’ is a more accurate term.
There are two approaches to going digital. The first option is to go ‘all in’, scanning all old paper records and filing them into a digital document storage system. This will reduce hard copy storage costs, but will require a significant investment of time to get all documents scanned and indexed. There is also a cost associated with electronic storage.
The second option is to draw a line in the sand and resolve to go digital from this set date. All document storage from this point onwards is done digitally, while your paper records are destroyed later, depending on specific legal requirements.
It is important to bear in mind that Inland Revenue requires you to keep all tax records for at least seven years after the date of the assessment, either in digital or physical form. If digital copies of paper originals are kept, they must be complete, accurate and readily accessible. Black and white copies of old records are fine, so long as the colours on the originals were not crucial to understanding the documents.
If you do implement a digital storage system, we advise one with a cloud based back-up. Just as paper files can be lost and destroyed, so can locally saved back-ups stored only on a computer or network. There are a variety of cloud based document management systems on the market, to fit a whole range of user needs, but be sure to give careful thought to your security and confidentiality requirements.
Regardless of which path you take, going digital is a great way to hedge against the disruption caused by ‘acts of god’ and if managed correctly, digital document management systems can deliver considerable time and cost savings.