Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

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

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

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

Document management Software - Why we sell PaperVision AND OnBase

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 @ 02:48 PM
If you're looking for Document Management Software to help your business perform more efficiently and reduce operating costs, we offer two unique document management software programs to help  meet your needs. Why two products you might ask? Because in our 15 years of experience we've learned that no two companies have the same document management needs, and that no one product can solve everybody's problems.

If you are looking for a low-cost document management solution to allow you to search and retrieve files directly from the desktop or web browser PaperVision Enterprise is a fantastic solution. Featuring an easy-to-use, easy to customize interface, PaperVision Enterprise can meet the needs of most companies. PaperVision also has the tools to allow you to annotate documents, print your files, and e-mail documents directly from the user interface. PaperVision also has the ability to incorporate simple workflow and drive business process using automated rules, routing, and roles. PaperVision is also the software behind ImageSilo, the world's leading hosted document management solution, so scalability is never really a concern.

For companies with more advanced document management requirements, including workflow and deep integrations with line of business applications, we also offer OnBase. Developed by Hyland Software, OnBase is True Enterprise Content Management. Onbase Software provides a seamless solution to deliver documents to line of business applications in support for transactions that take place during normal operations. Two hallmarks of the OnBase solution are their sophisticated workflow capabilities, allowing dynamic routing of documents based on individual document characteristics, and their award-winning Application Enabler, which provides direct integration with virtually any other application without the need for custom programming.

Selecting the right document management software for your business is not an easy task, and that's why our team of professionals can help make recommendations as to the right solution to meet your business requirements. If you're in the market for a solution to help you reduce costs and improve efficiency and ensure regulatory compliance, contact one of our solutions consultants to talk about your specific requirements and help make the decision as to whether PaperVision Enterprise or OnBase is the right solution for you.

Tags: ECM, Paperless Office, Document Management, Document Scanning, Document Imaging

PaperVision Enterprise R70 Now Available

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 @ 10:55 AM

Today marks the Official Release of PaperVision Enterprise R70, which features over 25 enhancements including Document Associations (Cross Liking Documents) and folder capabilities. These new features will help deliver additional value for clients already using PaperVision Enterprise and had a new level of functionality for clients who are looking to use the system.

PaperVision Enterprise, made by Digitech Systems is an easy-to-use document management software solution that allows you to search and retrieve documents using either a desktop client or web browser, both of which are included with the software. With the release of R70, PaperVision now features folder-based views of documents to make users more comfortable with the familiar interface the folders provide. In addition, R70 of PaperVision enables users to create relationships between documents and link them together based on common index values.

Equally as important is the ability to now display duplicate documents in detail sets as a single line item in the search screen results and to allow users to expand the view to see duplicates on the same screen. This functionality is important when there are one to many or many to one relationships between documents. A good example of this is an accounting environment when a single check may be used to pay multiple invoices or when multiple checks may be used to pay a single invoice.

PaperVision R70 is available as a free upgrade to current PaperVision Enterprise users with current maintenance and it's included with each new license of PaperVision Enterprise. For more information about PaperVision Enterprise and to find out about implementing this solution for your organization contact Shoreline Records Management online or give us a call at 866-No-Paper (866-667-2737).

Tags: ECM, Paperless Office, Document Management

Microfiche Conversion unlocks Legacy Information

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 @ 04:21 PM

Is your organization still accessing and retrieving data stored on microfiche? Are you still paying to maintain and service the old, outdated microfiche reader? If so, there is a better way.

Microfiche is a legacy document format used throughout much of the 20th century as an effective method of archiving information. Typically microfiche are 4 x 6 index cards like documents containing cut up little pieces of microfilm which has been arranged into rows and neatly fit on a card. These documents are typically referred to as jacketed microfiche. For a long time microfiche was a convenient alternative to microfilm because it provided a convenient method of arranging documents.

Old Microfiche ReaderMicrofiche does not images on in a roll, or linear, format but instead in a card-based index that groups like documents together. There is also another type of microfiche referred to as com fiche. COM is an acronym for computer output to microfiche, and typically contains green bar like print statements from mainframe computers.

You can eliminate the old microfiche reader and improve information access by converting your old microfiche data to digital images using our outsourced microfiche conversion services. For a low price per image our services will allow you have all of your old microfiche cards converted to images that can be shared and accessed via any networked PC. We use a combination of leading-edge microfiche scanners and advanced image enhancement technology to produce images that often exceed the quality of the source material.

Once converted to digital images and data that was previously stored in microfiche becomes universally accessible, searchable, and overall more useful to the organization retrieval times that today may be counted within minutes or even hours can be reduced to seconds and space used to store the microfiche can be reallocated to more productive uses.

From a day-to-day perspective images from microfiche that have been converted to digital can be sent to PDF files or TIF images depending on your preference. These images can then be OCR to allow for search within the text or can be indexed based on the data on the header of the card itself. These images along with the metadata can be uploaded to a website or into an internal document management system for easy search and retrieval reducing the amount of time required to find information and improving the overall operating efficiency of your organization.

Pricing for microfiche conversion can vary wildly. With Shoreline, we providing easy-to-understand pricing metric you pay a simple price per page based on the volume of fiche that you looking to convert and index fields required. Depending on the volume and whether or not you have jacketed or COM fiche, the typical price per image is between $.03 and $.06.

Tags: Paperless Office, Document Scanning, Microfiche

Four Document Scanning Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 @ 08:16 AM
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For those who are just starting their journey toward the Paperless office, there are a lot of things to consider. The most important one is - "If I scan this file, will I be able to find it later on?" With over 10 Years of experience in helping clients implement and configure Document Scanning projects, suffice it to say that I've seen some projects go less than well. Let me share with you the Four Most Common Mistakes that we see People make when starting a Document Scanning project and provide you with some insights on how you can avoid them:

1) Relying on OCR as the main source of document search

It might be more accurate to call refer to this as the "PDF Syndrome." The full-text PDF has done such a great job of convincing users that any and every document can be found based on the words within the pages that proper indexing has become an oversight for far too many companies. I've seen many new technologies for classifying content and automated indexing of scanned pages, but for effective document management, there is not a bigger mistake then relying OCR technology as your only reference point to documents. OCR is a fantastic technology, and many PhD. Level Engineers continue to refine and improve the accuracy, but it's not 100% accurate.

When you're capturing business documents, you need to be sure that you're able to not only find ONE document that meets your search criteria, but very often you need to find ALL of the documents relating to a specific transaction. OCR (or Optical Character Recognition) cannot provide you with the accuracy to ensure that this is going to be the case on a consistent basis. Keep in mind that 90% accuracy will only get you 9 out of 10 Digits in a Social Security Number, meaning that you won't be able to find the right document a fair percentage of the time.

Instead, you must rely on a combination of Barcode Recognition, Database Validation, and even good old Manual Data Entry to be sure that you can find the documents that you're looking for, when you need them. These tried and true methods are the only sure bet to locating documents when you need them later on.

2) Using a slow scanner for a high-volume scanning project

There are a lot of numbers that get circulated around in scanner spec sheets, but somehow the one that most people seem to pay the most attention to is speed. For most document imaging applications, scanner speed is going to be important to the overall efficiency, but it really is just one of the things you should consider when selecting a document scanner. To make the right decisions, you'll need to consider the amount of work that you're trying to accomplish and make sure that the scanner has not only the appropriate speed capabilities, but also that it handles the daily volume and has the image enhancement technology that the project calls for.
Because there are big price differences between buying a scanner to help address a backfile conversion and a day-forward project, it will often make sense to outsource the high-volume scanning work to a Document Scanning Service company. This will enable you to purchase a scanner that will address your ongoing needs, and save you thousands of dollars on equipment. At the same time, you'll also benefit from reduced labor costs by paying a flat price per image instead of paying scanning temps or training your own staff to get up to speed.

3) Manually keying all index data

The idea of tagging all of your documents with index information, or keywords, may seem like a daunting task. If your scanning medical records, for example, you may want to tag all of your files with a name, patient ID Number, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, etc. If you consider the number of keystrokes that it would take to attach this data to all of your document, it probably seems like it would take less time to just keep the paper in a folder and not scan it at all.

It doesn't have to be this hard! If you're already using a Database of some sort to keep track of information relating to a customer, patient, or transaction, you should put that data to good use. Most Database systems are designed with a master index record, or control number. Our recommendation is always to use that control number to minimize your data entry requirements. Document Scanning Software, such as Kofax Capture or SimpleCapture, can let you perform Database lookups, which saves time and money. Using this strategy, you will only need to enter that Master Index, such as Customer Number, and that will be used to cross-reference a database and automatically populate the other index fields.

4) Not capturing useful index information

When you start scanning files, it's absolutely critical that you make sure that you attach Meaningful data to the documents being scanned! Each time that you start a scanning project, you need to consider the ways that you may want to get back to that file at some time in the future. It's doubtful that you'd ever want to get back to a Mortgage Loan Folder by Phone Number, as that's likely to change once the closing is done, so be sure to attach data that is going to be relevant both now and in the future. You'll thank yourself later!

While this list is far from comprehensive, these are some of the most common perils and pitfalls we see customers face when starting scanning project. As you start your project, remember the old adage - Measure Twice, Cut Once. By staying focused on how someone will actually need to search and retrieve a document in the future, you'll be able to ensure that your document imaging project as a success, and your users will thank you later!

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

3 Reasons to Outsource Your Document Scanning Project

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Apr 06, 2010 @ 11:46 AM

As more and more companies implement Document Management Systems to help them deal with their growing paper problems, I wanted to share with you three reasons why you should think twice before jumping headfirst into Document Scanning using your own resources. Three Reasons to carefully consider outsourcing your document imaging requirements to a Professional Document Scanning Company are:

1. Lower Cost - Virtually all practices looking to begin scanning files will start by Purchasing a Document Scanner. The good news is that most of the scanners on the market today are of decent quality and offer most of the same features. Unfortunately, most of the document scanners that companies purchase fall into the Desktop or Workgroup Category, meaning that they can only scan about 1,000 Pages Per Day. If you're looking to process a significant volume of documents, you will need a High Volume Scanner, which can be significantly more expensive - even upwards of $20,000. In addition to having to buy more expensive equipment to address a significant Backfile Scanning project, you'll also need to dedicate Labor Resources to Pull Staples, Run the Scanner, and Index all of the scanned images. All of this costs money, and since Document Scanning is not within the core competency for most businesses, it takes more time to get through the process. Using an Professional Document Scanning Company lets you have all of your document scanned for a low price per image meaning that your costs are directly correlated to the number of documents to be converted, not the amount of time that it takes.

2. Improved Turnaround
- If you believe the old adage that people will make the work fill up the time, then Document Scanning is a sinkhole for employees looking to make the work last. It's difficult for many companies to judge the performance of a Document Scanning operation, and as a result many projects will take far longer as expected as staff blames the equipment, the quality of the paper, and nearly anything else they can find for the poor turnaround. An Outsourced Document Scanning Company will be responsible for delivering results in a designated timeframe, and it will be in their best interest to turnaround your job as quickly as possible because they don't get paid by the hour!

3. Improved Quality and Accountability - Like so many things in life, experience makes the difference in the Quality of Document Scanning results. Outsourcing your Document Scanning means that you'll have a team of professionals to ensure that your work is done correctly and that both image quality and data accuracy are given the attention that they deserve. In the event that there are issues with the completed project and you need something to be corrected, a Professional Document Scanning Company you will also be able to turn to your chosen vendor to help make things right.

Bottom line, think twice before you take on a large Document Scanning Project with your own equipment and resources. It may be more than you bargained for, and you may be able to save a lot of headaches by outsourcing the work to a team of document imaging professionals.

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