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Shuffling papers: document management to ensure your data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands

Paperless offices may be just on the horizon, but there are benefits to keeping hard copies at times. When it comes to document management, it’s all about striking the right balance.
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Paperless offices may be just on the horizon, but there are benefits to keeping hard copies at times. When it comes to document management, it’s all about striking the right balance.

Most modern businesses appreciate the drive towards digital document management. Reducing the amount of paper spilling out of filing cabinets and piling up on desks can only be a good thing – both for the environment and the smooth running of the business.

Digital documents are more searchable, more easily retrieved, edited, stored and sent. They take up no space, and can be recovered in the event of a disaster if they are properly backed up – something that cannot be said for paper documents in the event of a flood, fire or theft.

However, there must be a balance – for many businesses, going 100 per cent paperless would never be practical. Although there is a shift towards digital contracts, some governmental and legal proceedings may still require hard copies of documents signed in person.

In addition, some employees may prefer to keep copies of some documents – it can be reassuring to have tangible evidence, and some may prefer making notes on the go in a notebook rather than on a portable device.

Striking the right balance

Being able to collaborate on projects is hugely important, and having a connected workplace is key.

Storing documents in the cloud makes them easier to search for and share, you can take notes digitally and transfer funds – working online makes many business processes much simpler.

In addition to working practices becoming more digital they are also becoming more flexible, and more mobile, yet printing is unlikely to ever disappear entirely.

A recent study by IDC claimed that mobile workers will account for 75 per cent of the total workforce in 2018, which means that demand for printing from mobile devices, for example, through apps, is likely to increase.

For example, apps that enable businesses to create, cut, copy and edit documents, send them to an email address or remotely print them are expected to become more popular. There are even methods of scanning hard copies of documents to make digital versions that are editable and searchable.

In fact, there is a vast and growing range of options to make print and digital documents more collaborative and shareable.

Managed print services

For those businesses that are still keen to cut down on paper use, there are also managed print services available, which monitor paper consumption and help inform printing decisions.

Having access to these analytics and reports about printer usage can give a clearer overview of what is being produced, and can therefore be instructive when looking to cut back.

These services can also ensure just in time deliveries of toner and inks, and can schedule maintenance and repairs. This monitored usage can help businesses improve productivity, and cut down on costs.

Overall, for many businesses the relationship between print and digital documents is key, and being able to work across both can bring real benefits.

Having a secure document management system in place can improve productivity and efficiency – every day brings new alternatives to letting paperwork clutter up your desk space.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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