Going paperless has a great number of benefits, ranging from cutting down on clutter to enhanced efficiency in the workplace. But one question remains – is it safe?
What happens to sensitive and confidential documentation? Will such information be 100% secured if you decide to ditch paper once and for all?
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Going Paperless
Paperless offices can expect a number of benefits including:
- Reduced expenses
- Easy accessibility and retrieval of documents
- Time savings
- Improved communication and customer service
- More efficient audits
- Environmental friendliness
So, with all these benefits, why are so many companies still heavily relying on paper? Research has shown that many companies feel restricted by the ‘legal obligation to maintain hard copy records’.
However, the possibility of legal issues is not the only concern. Here are the other most common fears that prevent companies from taking the paperless plunge:
- Initial upfront costs and difficulties digitalizing the original documents
- Security issues, malware, and viruses
- Change Management
Copying machines and printers are still regarded as crucial office equipment. We’ve been using them for decades and, considering that we’re creatures of habit, it’s hard for us to switch to something entirely new. As a result, the paper continues piling up.
The process of going paperless is actually quite simple and can be completed in only 4 easy steps:
- Scan your documents
- Organize them in digital files with suitable, clear names so you can easily find them
- Store these files in folders
- Once you’re done, shred the original paper documents.
However, the security issues are far more concerning. Are digitalized documents a more secure way of keeping data or should you stick to locking your filing cabinets?
Going Paperless and Staying Safe
Research has shown that 47% of respondents think that paper negatively impacts on security and trust. The biggest security issue is in the fact that any document can be easily copied without being tracked.
Sensitive information like health information, accounting files, or tax records, needs to be safe at all times. Having these documents digitalized can be perfectly safe, probably even safer than keeping hard copies that could easily get lost.
But in order to be 100% sure that everything is secured, there are a couple of important factors to take into consideration:
When storing sensitive documents in a digital form, make sure they’re encrypted.
When you keep hard copies of documents, it’s harder to control who has access to them. Every employee that gets access to the company’s filing system can look at any document, which imposes a great privacy issue.
Using a cloud or DMS storage enables you to restrict the number of people who have access to certain documents. These systems offer different levels of access, enabling you to prevent copying, deleting, or printing of data.
There are special encryption features you can have installed on your computer. In addition, you’ll need to encrypt all the external drives you’re using for storage and backups.
Make sure to back up the documents, if possible more than once.
In order to make sure you won’t lose any data in case of system failures or any other defects, you should make backups of your documents to multiple locations by using special software solutions. Have one backup at the office, and one at home or on another off-site location.
Storing your documents on a cloud-based system such as Dropbox or iCloud offers a number of benefits:
- Your documents are automatically encrypted;
- You can access the documents from different devices, wherever you are and at any time of the day. This is especially important for those working remotely like freelancers or salespeople;
- You will no longer depend on complicated backups performed by your IT department;
- If your computers crash, or a document goes missing for some reason, or even if your company building burns down, your data will be safe.
- Every change you make in the documents is saved automatically and can be seen in all locations without the need to make copies. This spares you the standard filing conversion and simplifies retrieval;
- Having a document management system (DMS) means limitless storage and you no longer need to worry about space. In general, files take up little space – a whole year of documents can be ‘packed’ in only 100MB, which makes 1GB for 10 years of business!
Saying goodbye to paper is a huge step but if you’re persistent enough, you’ll soon realize it’s worth it. Sure, scanning everything may take some time but once you’re done, you’ll be able to work out a day-to-day scanning and filing system that will enable your company to start saving money and be more productive.
As far as data safety is concerned, the bottom line is, when implemented correctly, a paperless office system allows more control over your documents, instant backups, as well as better data security.