Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

What Should Businesses Do With Their Existing Paper Records?

Posted by Matthew Petito on Wed, May 13, 2015 @ 03:23 PM

Now that the panic has subsided from the Brooklyn CitiStorage document warehouse fire (even though it shouldn’t) everyone is back in the out of sight, out of mind thinking as it relates to records management. Businesses need to consider what steps to take to create efficiency with their unique records process, and prevent a crisis like this from happening again. Documents in storage should be there only for retention purposes. Certain documents that will have an adverse effect on your business if destroyed should be in an electronic format and backed up.

There will always be documents that should be stored rather than scanned. It could be ten year old accounting documents, inactive medical records, closed legal files, terminated employee files… the list goes on and on. If these documents should ever become inaccessible or destroyed unintentionally, the business should be able to function properly without them. No business, other than one with thousands of dollars to spend, would even consider taking boxes of records that no one looks at out of a storage facility and convert them into electronic records that no one will look at.

But what does make sense is to convert records that are frequently retrieved and actively used in the office, such as active medical records, employee files, pending legal files, current accounting documents, active customer files, all documents that the business relies on to function. Electronic files are more secure, have audit trails, can limit accessibility, have easy to manage destruction dates, can be viewed by multiple people at different locations, have multiple backups, and are easier to manage than paper files.

Below are abstracts from a more detailed, day forward, application specific scanning service, with detailed posts to follow:

 

  • Proof of Delivery:

Everyone has had customers that do not want to pay for products or services that have been delivered to them, but with dozens or hundreds of deliveries per day, it can be a daunting task to track down signed delivery tickets to prove the delivery or service was completed. Instead of looking through thousands of delivery tickets, you can simply search for a specific delivery ticket by customer name, date, or other specific search criteria. Your company can even have the images integrated into your accounting software. Once the documents are electronic, you can instantly see who signed for the delivery or service and email it to their AP department, decreasing your receivables significantly.

 

  • Accounting Documents:

Unless your company has a fully automated accounts payable processing system (which it most certainly could), the accounting department most likely has the vendor payables and customer receivables in file cabinets organized alphabetically by month or year, depending on volume. Excluding very small accounting departments and businesses, most of these files are going to be accessed by multiple people and possibly from multiple locations. Being able to retrieve frequently accessed documents saves time searching for documents, increases efficiency, and eliminates issues related to lost or mis-filed invoices. Images can be hosted on a cloud based document management system, stored on internal servers, or integrated into the existing accounting software.

 

  • Human Resource Documents and Employee Files:

Human Resource departments are far more complicated than many people in business understand. They can be responsible for payroll, recruitment, benefits, employee relations, employee development, risk management, and many other specialized departments. With all this information being managed by HR, there is a lot of paper that can pile up quickly. Limiting the access to these documents by keeping them in file cabinets can cause inefficiencies that often go overlooked. Converting paper HR documents to easily accessible electronic images, allows remote and concurrent access, all within seconds, and with increased security and audit trails.

 

  • Medical Records:

With the transition to Electronic Medical Records in full swing, many practices are put in the situation where they have to make a decision on what to do with their paper medical records. They have a few options: they could do nothing, and use the EMR for billing and scheduling only, and continue to use the paper chart for patient notes, they could use both the EMR for day forward progress notes and the paper chart for the historical data, or they can scan the paper chart information into the EMR and centralize their patient care in one location.

Doing nothing does not make the most sense; you implemented the EMR for a reason. Using both can be a viable option for a while, but mistakes can be easily made when working from two forms of media. Medications, allergies, or immunizations can be in the EMR and not the paper record or vice versa, and if another practice or the patient calls looking for that information, someone at the practice might not think to check both the EMR and paper chart.

Scanning paper records into an EMR allows a smooth transition to comprehensive patient chart management. The images from the paper chart are easily viewed in the EMR, and everything day forward is input directly through the EMR interface. New patients are completely paperless. This solution is most appropriate for active patients with paper records that are frequently accessed.

Tags: Document Management, Records Management, Document Scanning, Medical Record Scanning, Brooklyn Storage Fire, Paper Records

The Recent Brooklyn Document Storage Warehouse Fire, and Many Other Tragedies, Point Out Why Digitizing Paper Documents Should Be Considered.

Posted by Matthew Petito on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 04:41 PM

The massive fire last week in Brooklyn’s CitiStorage Document Storage warehouse was not the first time a document storage facility has been destroyed. To name a few, 1997 South Brunswick, NJ, USA, 2006 London, England, 2006 Ottawa, Canada, 2011 Aprilia, Italy, and 2014 Buenos Aires, Argentina.

With 1.1 Million Cubic Feet of records potentially destroyed at CitiStorage, including that of legal firms, financial intuitions, medical practices and hospitals (Mount Sinai Health System, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, North Shore-LIJ Health System and NYU Langone Medical Center), accounting firms, and both small and large businesses, the main question is and has been, why have these documents not been converted to electronic images?

Aside from the why haven’t records been converted, businesses also have to contemplate what would the cost be to recreate destroyed documents? What would be involved? And what if those records cannot be recreated? What would happen if original blueprints, medical records, legal cases, or financial documents are destroyed with no way of reproducing them? “It’s 2015, why isn’t this information electronic?” many people have asked.

Once records are digitized, companies will no longer have to pay for records management services related to document storage. After the documents are scanned, no more costs will be incurred. The electronic images can be on a hard drive, an internal network, or cloud based storage all allowing constant and instant access.Brooklyn Storage fire

On Sunday, 2/1, many New Yorkers woke up to thousands of pages of private and protected information floating along the Williamsburg waterfront and spewing through the air. Not only are the records that hundreds of businesses and government agencies depend on destroyed, the private and protected information of their customers and employee’s was put on full display. Many of these have names, addresses, account numbers, social security numbers, which can be used to easily steal someone’s identity.

 “About the possibility that confidential patient information might have been disclosed on a large scale as the wind scattered unburned records, Brian Conway, of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said, “There’s no reason to believe that’s a possibility.” Yet in one indication of the city’s concern, the disaster recovery contractors, in their neon yellow jackets, sealed off the entrance to the rocky jetty with yellow caution tape early Sunday and began to scoop documents out of the water with nets and shovels.” – NY Times.

The electronic images of scanned documents are more often of a higher quality than the original and much more secure. The entire CitiStorage warehouse could be scanned and stored on a few hard drives, which are much easier to protect, keep organized, and secured than thousands of boxes.

Tags: Paperless Office, Document Management, Records Management, Document Scanning, Document Imaging, Medical Record Scanning

Google Expands OCR Capabilities for Document Scanning

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 @ 12:34 PM
google docs OCRGoogle is Now Offering Free OCR Services for Scanned Documents. Google announced yesterday that there is a new feature available in Google Docs to allow users to import Scanned Documents. The feature, describes as "Convert Text from PDF or image files to Google Docs Documents," allows users to import a Scanned PDF or Image File (JPEG, GIF, or PNG).

There are still some questions that come up as to whether or not this new functionality indicates an intention by Google to broaden the scope of their Google Docs platform, as well as questions about how Google Docs' new OCR functionality works and the functionality that it provides. These questions include:

What OCR Engine is Google using in the Google Docs Platform?

The OCR Engine used by Google in this process is not immediately clear. Google does Sponsor an Open Source OCR Engine and Document Analysis Platform called OCRopus, but Google hasn't publicly acknowledged that this is the technology being used by any of their services, including Google Books or the new Google Docs OCR Functionality.

Does Google Docs OCR Work with TIF Files?

During our testing, we noticed that the OCR functionality didn't work for one of the most standard image formats that we find clients using, TIF Images. TIF, or TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), Images are widely considered an Industry Standard for Scanning Paper Documents, so I found the absence of this functionality to be a surprising.

For those looking to convert TIF images, you may want to use Adobe Acrobat or another utility to convert TIF files to PDF, or check out ABBYY FineReader Online. For organizations looking to convert large volumes of information, I would recommend using an alternate document capture software for converting your images to OCR.

How Well does Google Docs OCR work?

The technology is still a bit new, as it was only released yesterday, but ars technica did some testing and was nice enough to summarize their experiences. Their results were about the same as the results we experienced during our testing, and they summarized their findings: "There are still cases where this OCR would be better than nothing." Not quite the ringing endorsement that you'd hope to see attached to a Google Service, but the offering is still new.

Because of the way the import mechanism is configured, Google Docs OCR may not be the best document scanning solution for every business case, especially if you're looking to convert a large volume of paper documents to digital images. For ad-hoc, low volume OCR requirements however, the Google Docs OCR functionality serves as a solid utility for converting paper into useable text.

Have you tried the Google Docs OCR tool yet? What have your experiences been? Have you had better success with other services or software? Share your experiences in the Comments!

Tags: Scanning, Document Scanning, Google

Proof of Delivery Scanning Delivers Outstanding Value

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 @ 09:43 AM
Proof Of Delivery ScanningThere are so many specific business applications for Document Scanning and Document Management that it's a challenge to share all of them, but one application - Proof Of Delivery - continually stands out as an outstanding value for clients. Not all Scanning Applications make fiscal sense or improve Customer Service, but Proof of Delivery is different.

Proof of Delivery Scanning solutions enable companies to provide their clients with access to signed delivery receipts via a web browser, resulting in improved customer service and reduced daily sales outstanding (DSO). The technology hasn't changed much since the late 1990's, but a best practices implementation typically looks something like this:

  • Creation of Delivery Ticket/Bill of Lading - When coordinating a Delivery, a vendor will create a Delivery Ticket or Bill of Lading to accompany the shipment. In an ideal scenario, these tickets will be printed with a Barcoded Ticket Number to help eliminate any manual data entry later on in the process.
  • Delivery of Goods and/or Services - Vendor will deliver goods and/or provide services to a client and obtain a signature on a Bill of Lading or Proof of Delivery document as evidence that the transaction was completed.
  • Vendor Scans Proof of Delivery Documents - With modern document capture software and today's affordable Scanners, Vendors can easily scan tickets and read the Barcode information to provide a quick lookup to that specific ticket number when a request is made. Additional information, such as Customer Name, Transaction Date, Branch Code, or Plant Code, can be obtained via ODBC Lookup, eliminating the need for any additional keystrokes.

Once the process is complete, the Documents are then placed into a Document Management Software application, such as OnBase or PaperVision Enterprise. From there, clients can be provided with direct access to review their completed POD's and search for transaction history and Internal Customer Service Representatives can quickly and easily field any questions or requests relating to Transactions. This is particularly useful for Collections staff looking to accelerate the payment cycle, as they're now able to quickly and effortlessly provide a record of the transaction and request prompt remittance of any required payment.

For clients that are processing higher volumes, there is also the option to leverage outsourced Proof of Delivery Scanning to even further reduce the costs associated with the process. In the outsourced scenario, completed delivery tickets can be sent to a third party vendor for scanning and posted to a hosted Document Management repository (ImageSilo or OnBase Online, for example) for web-based access by either external clients or internal staff.

In addition, advancements in integration technology from Providers such as Hyland Software and their Application Enabler utility have made it easy to integrate scanned tickets directly with ERP or Accounting Systems. This provides real-time access to Delivery Tickets directly from screens in systems like SAP, Oracle, or any other Line of Business application, even further increasing the ROI of Proof of Delivery Scanning.

If you're currently delivering goods and services and you're not scanning your Proof of Delivery Documents or Bill of Lading files, you need to take the time to at least explore these solutions. The investment required is far less than the cost of not getting paid for a delivery or service because of poor documentation, and the reduced operating costs provided by immediate action can save thousands of dollars in labor each month.

Tags: Document Management, Document Scanning, Document Imaging

Scanning Services for Microsoft Sharepoint - including Sharepoint 2010

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, May 12, 2010 @ 08:24 AM
With today marking the official release of Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss some of the services that we provide to support companies that are moving forward with Sharepoint at the center of their Document Management Strategy.

Sharepoint Scanning ServicesTo be sure, Microsoft has invested a lot of time and resources in improving upon previous iterations of Sharepoint, and the technology has come a long way since it's initial release. Today, I would not be alone in considering Sharepoint as one of the market leaders in the ECM (Enterprise Content Management) space, and we've been proponents of recommending it to clients when appropriate.

One of the challenges, however, is efficiently capturing paper content and delivering it to Sharepoint so that it can be searched and retrieved by users. There are many products available in the market to address this challenge, including Kofax Capture and KnowledgeLake - both of which are excellent solutions.

But what about Companies that want to leverage the benefits of Sharepoint without purchasing high-speed scanners and investing the time and resources in scanning the files themselves?

That's where our outsourced scanning services for Sharepoint come in. Our Production Document Scanning Bureau is capable of converting millions of pages on a monthly basis, and provides firms with a low price per page to convert paper to digital format. We handle the document preparation, scanning, quality control, and indexing, and return to clients a series of files that can be easily imported to Sharepoint.

Whether you're using an older version of the Sharepoint platform, or you plan to take advantage of the features that Sharepoint 2010 has to offer, consider outsourcing the scanning of your files. You'll be able to achieve a more rapid return on your document management investment, and save yourself a whole lot of hassle in the process.


Ready to take the first Step to getting your files scanned to Sharepoint?
Contact us today to discuss your Document Scanning Project and find out how our services can help lower your costs and accelerate your return on investment.

Tags: ECM, Scanning, Document Scanning, Sharepoint

No Simple Tools for the Paperless Office

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, May 11, 2010 @ 06:14 PM

There’s a great post over on Mashable – 5 Simple Tools for a Paperless Office. It’s really a great cheat sheet on how to use some really cool, useful software and online services to reduce paper and become more efficient, but I found myself reading it and thinking about the clients that I’ve worked with over the past ten years. These are all very cool tools, but I don’t think that they’re going to really take you any closer to a paperless office.

More importantly, not one of them is going to ensure that you’ll actually be able to FIND something when you go to look for it. And therein lies the problem facing businesses today. Document Management tools have some fantastic bells, whistles, and doodads, but do any of them actually do anything useful?? Honestly, out of the whole list presented, the mention of Google Apps for Business at the footnote is probably the most useful of all of the items.

Google Apps for Business is missing one key component, however. They still have added the viewer. Plug Google's fancy document viewer (you know, the one they use for Google books), into Google apps and bam! – Now you’ve really got a solution for a Paperless Office. You’d be able to tag metadata, search, and view documents from anywhere that there’s a browser.

Except… There’s no audit trails. There are still no annotation capabilities. There’s no really great, easy way to efficiently scan large volumes of documents to Google Apps. Perhaps most importantly, the more consumer-like these tools become, the biggest thing that’s missing isn’t feature functionality- it’s guidance and best practices. Scanning files isn’t hard. It’s preparing them for scanning, indexing them, and making sure that people can find them that makes it difficult. 

Tags: Paperless Office, Document Management, Document Scanning, Google

The State of the Long Island Employment Market - Guest Post from Jason Banks of Lloyd Staffing

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, May 06, 2010 @ 06:34 PM
Jason-BanksThe following Guest Post is from an interview I recently conducted with Jason Banks, Executive Vice President of Lloyd Staffing. Lloyd Staffing is and is one of Long Islands most respected Employment Service Providers offering recruiting, hiring, retention and outsourcing, and is also a Strategic Partner of Shoreline's for staffing Document Scanning Projects.

Recently, I had an opportunity to ask Jason some questions about the Challenges and Opportunities in Long Island's Employment market, as well as how businesses can use the market to improve their operations. Here's What Jason had to share:

Lloyd Staffing LogoWhat are the biggest challenges facing Long Island Employers today?

Putting aside the current economy, which is starting to change and gain momentum, the long-term challenge for local employers is plugging the talent drain of fleeting Gen X/Gen Y workers needed to replace aging baby boomers who retire and move elsewhere.  This is a dynamic we have heard about, read about and had conferences on but there have been very little solutions presented. Both of these generational opposites may have trouble justifying remaining on LI if compensation is not competitive with cost of living.  This region is consistently faced with the challenges involved in relocating employees to this region.  LI companies need to make the investment in training and retaining their talent resources while exploring creative solutions to keep  an active talent pipeline.  Also, watch for the rapid increase in employees looking for virtual work options and consulting engagements rather than full-time direct employment.

Where are the biggest opportunities for those looking for employment?

Technology, Healthcare, Engineering and Sales.  Digital advancements and Economic Stimulus have ignited change in Healthcare, Technology and Engineering/Construction. Long Island employers are seeking versatile professionals who have dynamic skill-sets in these industries.  The need for Sales professionals has been steady for the last 8 months and now the mid-level sales management has come back. 

How can businesses use the market to help them improve their talent roster?

It has been a buyer's market, although we are now seeing small changes such as competitive offers and buy-backs. This is still a very good time to take advantage of the talent marketplace and acquire talent that might otherwise not be available financially, emotionally or intellectually.  However, don't bargain hunt; recognize value, take time to meet candidates, conduct exploratory interviews, bring on temporary staffing help to help with seasonal or project needs and keep talent close to your brand. Do not put your organization in the position where the market comes back, talent is scarce and you are stuck saying "we should have connected with the talent/candidates we often look for when we had the chance."   Recognize that good hires can be made at every level, but be mindful not to send the wrong message to your remaining staff.  Make it clear that such hires are not luxuries, but can put the company at a competitive advantage, during and after the economic recovery.

Thanks to Jason for taking the time to share his thoughts on the state of the Long Island Employment Market. Be sure to visit Lloyd Staffing for all of your Employment Service needs.

Tags: Document Scanning, Business Strategy, Healthcare

Long Island Document Scanning Services

Posted by Michael Thomas on Sun, May 02, 2010 @ 01:38 PM

long islandDo you have lots of paper that you're looking to convert to Digital Images?

Are you frustrated by the lack of access to your documents? Have a general feeling that paper is slowing your business down?

Shoreline Records Management is Long Island's Leading provider of Document Scanning Services. We're located in Medford, New York, and have been providing Document Scanning Services since 1994. Our team can help you to convert paper to digital images for as little as $.04 per Page. 

For many businesses on Long Island, the cost of office space is a primary reason to consider scanning, but the real value comes from improved access to information, and improved collaboration. Our Team has over fifteen years of experience with:

  • Medical Records Scanning
  • Legal File Scanning
  • Blueprint Scanning
  • Microfilm Scanning
  • and much, much more.

In addition, we've worked with many leading Long Island Companies to help with scanning projects in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Human Resources to help eliminate paper and improve operating efficiency.

If you're considering starting a scanning project, take the time to speak with one of our Solution Consultants about your project first. It may turn out that outsourced document scanning services can be a huge boost to your productivity and your bottom line.

Tags: Document Management, Document Scanning, Document Imaging

HR Document Management - There's still paper there?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 @ 12:09 PM
Over the past two or three years, I've noticed a significant increase in the number of human resource departments looking for document management solutions to help them reduce the amount of paper and improve their overall business process related to access and maintenance of employee files. To me, It makes perfect sense that human resource departments are looking for document management solutions, when you consider all the filing organization and storage that goes on inside, and the increased pressure to do more work with less resources and time.

Human Resources - PeopleLast night, I was at a dinner with some friends and we were talking about our businesses and the areas in which we help our clients. During the discussion I brought up how we've recently finished scanning over 1,000 employee files for a large insurance firm. One of my friends, who owns a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO, asked the question "there's still paper there?" I confirmed this fact and shared with him some more about just how many projects we're seeing in this space recently, and he mentioned that he always operated under the assumption that most HR departments were early dealing with documents in an electronic format, and he was surprised to find how much paperwork we're seeing HR departments still working with. Well for those of you who are not in HR, you may be surprised too.

When I first started working with human resource departments I quickly learned that HR is not really one department, but rather an amalgam of many different business units loosely tied together under the term "Human Resources". Human resource departments may include payroll, recruitment, benefits, employee relations, employee development, risk management, and many other specialized departments. While many, HRIS systems and HR service providers offer fantastic solutions for their specific area, the main employee file is often still printed and stored in traditional file cabinets to avoid scattering the various documents throughout disparate systems.

Document management offers a unique opportunity to address this challenge. Human Resource Document Management allows you to create folders and organize data based not only on the employee but also into subsections for medical benefits, correspondence, training, emergency contact information, payroll and more. In short, an effective document management solution will allow you to create in a digital format what the employee folder provides in a physical format by tying together loose pieces of employee data into one easy-to-use system. In addition to helping to consolidate this information, a document management solution can help human resources to operate more efficiently by reducing the time spent accessing and searching for files and essentially adding capabilities to existing HR software.

In most cases when we talk about human resources document management with the client were talking about our enterprise-level solution, OnBase. OnBase is unique because it offers a number of features designed to integrate with other applications which is a common concern in HR. Whether you're using PeopleSoft, Lawson, or any number of other products OnBase allows you to scan paper files and integrate electronic documents into groupings in folders that can be retrieved directly through those application interfaces. Equally as important are the capabilities of OnBase to incorporate workflow to help drive HR related document processes. Workflow helps automate a number of the repetitive tasks that HR administrators deal with on a daily basis by allowing improved employee self-service and automated notifications of changes in status and other employee related updates.

In some cases, the budget or need for a full-blown document management solution is just not feasible right now. For HR departments that aren't ready to make an investment in a document management solution however we also offer outsourced scanning services for human resource documents to help archive and provide immediate retrieval for employee files. This option allows HR departments to box up and ship us both active and inactive employee personnel folders which we will scan, index, and provide access to via either CD or ImageSilo, our hosted document management solution. For many companies, outsourced backfile scanning services provide an excellent first step towards making the transition to a more robust document management solution.

In the end, human resources is like many departments within companies today, technology is takingthem closer toward the paperless office, but paper still provides a valuable medium for archiving, storing, and retrieving information on a daily basis. Through the use of a HR document management solution or outsourced document conversion services, though, firms can help reduce cost and focus on improving the quality of service to employees instead of spending time searching for documents.

Tags: Paperless Office, Document Management, File Storage, Records Management, Document Scanning

Scanning Mortgage Files post-close. Does it make sense?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 @ 05:32 PM
As someone who spent the better part of the decade working with lending companies on improving loan processing through Document-Driven Workflow, I've always thought that it doesn't make much sense to scan alone file after it's closed. Recently, however, I've realized that I was wrong. While the benefit of scanning loan files post-close may not be as strong as driving the process using workflow, there's a lot to be gained by scanning loan documents after the loan has been closed. Let's take a look at three main reasons why:

Loan Sale - Although the market in 2010 is not quite as hot as it once was, the loan sale industry is still alive and well. For Originators, increased competition and a wider pool of available options for buyers has forced competitive differentiation in any way possible. The ability to provide closed loan files in a convenient image format is one way to do this. Scanning mortgage loans post close and creating a series of PDFs or TIF images allows for faster transfer to the secondary market, meaning faster access to payment.

Mortgage File ScanningServicing - Loan Servicing is one piece of the business that never seems to change. In spite of all the advances in online technology, there are still a number of questions that require reference back to the original loan files. Being able to access these files directly through the origination system in an image format, while customers are on the phone, improves client satisfaction and reduces costs for the servicer.

Foreclosures - The dreaded "F" word has led many lenders to go back and image archived loans. When a Lender is able to quickly provide all the required paperwork relating to a loan, they stand a better chance of success during foreclosure proceedings. In fact one of the most common causes for judgments against mortgage companies is the inability to produce an original note. Even if the note is available, many lenders have found that the onerous task of rifling through countless papers to find that precious document has been a costly process.

I continue to be a proponent of using document management and workflow for mortgage lending, as the efficiency gains by capturing documents accurately during the loan origination process provide significant savings and increased compliance. However, for those organizations that either have cultural or process-related obstacles to implementing workflow, the concept of scanning loan documentation post-close still holds great appeal. In a more competitive marketplace, the improved customer service and reduced wait times that scanned files can provide leads to happier borrowers, and as market conditions improve, hopefully more repeat business.

Tags: ECM, Document Management, Document Scanning