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5 Step Guide to Digitizing Corporate Records


5 Step Guide to Digitizing Corporate Records

In a world of big data, digital information is proliferating each day. While many businesses have adopted new cloud-based technologies to manage the day-to-day, there’s another not-so-digital cloud of data lingering over them that has yet to be dealt with—their physical records.

Those endless rows of filing cabinets left to collect dust in the far reaches of office storage aren’t going anywhere, leaving business leaders with a lingering question: how do we efficiently and sustainably manage all of these paper records? In this article, you’ll find simple advice on how to digitize your corporate records and go paperless once and for all.

Let’s get started with the step-by-step basics:

  1. Define the scope of your collection

  2. Create a strategy for scanning your records

  3. Get organized and prepare files for scanning

  4. Decide how to digitally store and manage data

  5. Create a plan for day-forward records

Rather cut to the chase and get expert guidance? Contact us today >

1) Define the scope of your collection of documents

Before you can create a plan of attack, you need a full birds-eye view of what your physical records environment looks like. This includes the volume of your records, where they’re located, compliance requirements and more. Start by asking yourself the following questions.


Are your records stored in filing cabinets? In bankers boxes? Are they all on-site at your corporate head office, or do other collections exist in storage facilities or at your field locations?


Do you have an accurate estimate of the volume of records you have in storage? As a general rule of thumb, one banker's box or linear square foot of storage (roughly that of a single filing cabinet drawer) holds approximately 1,800 pages.


Are these documents being utilized by anyone in the organization? How much of your collection (if any) can be recycled? What value exists within these stored files that you should make available digitally?


Are there any compliance requirements you need to adhere to in this process? This question is particularly important for businesses in industries that have stricter regulatory standards, such as finance or insurance. If there’s a chance a document will be used in legal discovery or for evidence, it must adhere to compliance and chain of custody regulations.

2) Create a strategy for scanning your records

Once you’ve determined the scope of your records collection, you can make an informed decision about converting them in-house or hiring third-party support.

If your records collection is relatively small and you have sufficient internal resources, skills and processes in place, it may be feasible for you to digitize the records in-house. On the other hand, undergoing digital transformation can be a tremendous undertaking—and for some organizations, an expert partner is well worth the investment.

Here are some of the reasons choosing an expert partner could save you time and money:


If your records collection is large, it would be cumbersome for your in-house staff to scan one document at a time. Leading technology like our IBML scanner can accurately scan and index up to 430 pages per minute.


Digitizing a records collection is so much more than scanning pages. It requires knowledge of digital file storage, metadata, cloud-based ECM technology, compliance, records retention and more. The right partner will guide you through every step of the process with ease.

Human Capital

It’s likely that your employees’ time isn’t best spent on tasks that aren’t directly related to their job duties—and digitizing a records collection isn’t a feat that can easily be done off the side of a desk. With outsourced resources, your project will be completed with care and in a timely fashion.

      3) Get organized and prepare files for scanning


      Unless you're scanning your records on site, you'll need to arrange for secure transportation from storage. Working with WCD, we'll arrange to retrieve and transport your records to our secure scanning facilities in Calgary or Edmonton following a strict chain of custody process. Here, records are securely stored until the scanning project is complete.

      Document preparation

      Document preparation for scanning can include removing pages from binders, removing staples and other fasteners, folding down corners and ironing out wrinkled pages. If this all sounds too tedious, don't fret—our digitization experts can handle it all.

      Document retention

      Before the digitization process begins, you'll need to decide what you want done with the records post-scanning. Often, companies want records securely destroyed but in some cases, they need to be returned to their original format (including re-stapling, placing pages back in binders, etc.). Your account executive will discuss the options with you.

      4) Decide how to digitally store and manage data

      Do you already have an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution in place at your organization? If so, is it able to accommodate and effectively organize your new digital records collection? An ECM consultant will help you develop a strategy for storing and organizing this new information in a way that makes it easy for employees to access, search for and find information.

      If you don't have an existing ECM solution, here are some of the factors to consider when choosing one:

      Complexity of your information environment

      Do you have several departments that each need their own repository, or are you a smaller business that needs a single place to store information? The higher the volume and complexity of your records collection, the more likely you'll need a more sophisticated platform.

      Metadata requirements

      What type of search functionality do you need to retrieve documentation? For some records collections, this could be as simple as the ability to search for a file name. For larger digital environments stored across systems, ECM technologies like M-Files can help you search for and locate information in a matter of seconds by pulling advanced metadata like keywords within a document.

      Permission controls

      Do you require advanced measures for granting access to documentation, or are you fairly lenient? For organizations with stricter governance policies that are looking to protect sensitive information, consider opting for an ECM system that has built-in controls.

        5) Create a plan for day-forward records

        As you organize records into an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, you'll want to develop a solid framework for your day-forward strategy. Put simply, a day-forward strategy determines how you will manage paper documents created from a certain date forward—mainly to prevent a new collection of physical documents from being created.

        For some organizations, this is as simple as stating that any physical records created in the future will immediately be scanned and digitally retained in the new ECM system. This prevents costly records management and scanning projects in the future, and encourages staff to get accustomed to saving documents in a central, accessible location. Your plan should address standard processes and accountabilities for day-forward scanning.

          Ready to go paperless?

          WCD is a leading Canadian provider of document imaging and storage solutions. Discover ways we can help your organization go paperless once and for all by reading about our Information Solutions.


          How To Prepare Physical Documents for Digitization

          So you’ve decided to go digital—congratulations! Undergoing digital transformation is a rewarding process that will dramatically transform your employee and customer experience. Converting your physical records into digital files will not only improve accessibility, but it will also streamline your workflows and enhance your data security. Before the document imaging process can begin, proper document preparation is crucial to ensuring a smooth and efficient scanning process. Here, we’ll explore some best practices for document preparation in digitization, covering tips and techniques for handling various document types and ensuring optimal quality in your finished product. Here’s the rundown: Removing staples, paperclips and bindings Removing sticky notes and adhesive materials Organizing documentsProtecting photographs Digitizing books and bound materials Dealing with oversized documents Ensuring cleanliness Get a 360 degree view of the document digitization process > 1) Removing Staples, Paperclips, and Bindings Before diving into document digitization, remove staples, paperclips, and bindings from your documents. Left untouched, these metallics can wreak havoc on scanning equipment and cause frustrating paper jams. Instead of risking damage, grab some small adhesive notes to temporarily hold together any multi-page documents or delicate materials. They'll keep things neat and tidy in the meantime. 2) Removing Sticky Notes & Adhesive Materials While sticky notes are great for reminders and separating pages pre-scan, they can be real troublemakers if they go unremoved during the scanning process, often hiding important information or causing unnecessary jams and delays. Carefully peel off any sticky notes, taking your time to avoid any tears or damage to the underlying document. Trust us—your future digital files will thank you for it! 3) Organizing Documents Organization is the name of the game when it comes to smooth digitization. Begin by sorting your documents based on logical criteria—whether that’s date, type, or category—whatever works in unison with your electronic content management strategy. By grouping related documents together, you’re not only simplifying indexing, but you’re also supercharging your retrieval capabilities post-scan. It's the perfect system for finding exactly what you need at the stroke of a few keys. Need help solidifying your content management strategy? 4) Protecting Photographs & Fragile Materials Fragile documents, like aged papers or delicate manuscripts, require extra TLC during preparation. Clean, dry hands are the key here—no greasy fingerprints or smudges, please! For an added layer of protection, consider wearing a pair of non-abrasive gloves. They'll keep these precious documents safe from any potential harm. Lay them down on a clean, flat surface and gently flatten them as needed to remove creases or curling. Remember, we're preserving history here! 5) Digitizing Books and Bound Materials If you're digitizing books, you’ll want to open pages as much as you can for the clearest scans—and to keep everything in place without causing any harm, grab some weights to hold the book steady and make sure it’s camera-ready. 6) Dealing with Oversized Documents Oversized documents like maps, blueprints, or posters require extra attention during the digitization process, because you’ll want to capture every intricate detail without any distortions. To do so, flatten the oversized document as much as possible and smooth out any wrinkles or folds. If your document is too big to fit on a standard scanner, fear not! WCD has the equipment and expertise to handle those grand-scale documents with finesse. 7) Ensuring Cleanliness Dust, dirt, and debris are not your friend when it comes to high-quality digitized documents. Using a soft, lint-free cloth or a specially designed document cleaning brush, gently wipe the surfaces of the documents, removing any particles that might compromise the scan quality. Always avoid using cleaning solutions or liquids that might cause damage. Save time—let us prep your documents! Do you have a hefty records collection and lack the resources or time to prep each document in-house? With full-service information solutions, WCD has the team and expertise to efficiently prepare, scan and manage your documents in the cloud. If your files are ready to embark on their digital journey, check out our services by clicking the link below.

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          HR Teams: Spend More Time on People, Less on Paper

          HR Teams: Spend More Time on People, Less on Paper Human Resources is changing. Today, many business leaders have an increasing expectation for HR to be strategic, forward-thinking and to run like a well-oiled machine – but in reality, HR professionals are consumed by administrative tasks. As gatekeepers to valuable business information like personnel files, payroll information and recruitment data, HR is one of the most information-intensive departments in the business. Challenges in managing corporate information Managing HR paperwork costs an average $300 per employee annually. It's the manual, paper-based processes that consume time, money and resources – not to mention they expose organizations to compliance risks related to security and privacy. Fortunately, there's a solution. HR departments who embrace digital transformation can simplify the way they work, save money, and eliminate distractions so they can focus on strategic priorities that help drive business performance. Information management solutions like M-Files enable HR departments to scan and convert paper records into searchable digital formats, apply workflows to those documents that automate manual tasks, and securely manage employee data no matter where it's stored – whether it's in network folders, email, ERP systems or elsewhere. Why you should make your HR files accessible online 1) Greater control Digitizing paper records and overlaying an intelligent information management solution will save your HR department time and money. With centralized digital access to employee and corporate information, it's easy to find the information you need regardless of where you're working from. No more searching through filing cabinets or network folders. 2) Stronger security and compliance Paper files are prone to risks like theft, fires and floods, leaving organizations exposed to privacy and security risks. In a secure digital environment, HR can manage who accesses sensitive information using advanced security controls and ensure valuable information is retained in compliance with corporate regulations. 3) Easier access for a remote workforce Is your organization's paper-based information stored away in filing cabinets? Is your staff struggling to access critical information easily and efficiently because they're not always at the office? With remote work on the rise, you can enable your HR team by making company records accessible from any device, anywhere. Not only will it make their jobs easier, but it will save the company time and money. Explore M-Files, a content management solution for your HR department >

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          How much does it cost to scan a box of paper records?

          How much does it cost to scan a box of paper records? A standard banker's box of documents contains about 1,800 pages. The industry average to scan those records is between $0.10 and $0.17 per page and a standard box of records costs around $250 to scan. Sounds simple, but there's a caveat. If you see a company advertising $0.07 (or lower!) per image price, buyer beware. You get what you pay for. Our standardized pricing models include all basic digitization services like document preparation, scanning, processing, indexing, quality assurance and file delivery. For those companies offering lower than standard pricing, these basic services may be additional costs that could leave you paying triple. We like to be transparent with our customers about the value we provide. Following are 7 common factors that can contribute to the cost of a document scanning and conversion project. Ready for a personalized estimate? Visit our online calculator for per-box pricing > Common factors that affect pricing for document scanning services 1) How much preparation is needed to prepare your files for scanning? Document preparation for scanning can include removing pages from binders, removing staples and other fasteners, folding down corners and ironing out wrinkled pages. If your paper document collection is looking particularly disorganized or messy, this can increase the amount of prep required. 2) Are your pages single- or double-sided? A standard banker's box averages about 1,800 images per box. But be sure to check for double-sided pages in your collection as these will count as two images (front and back). 3) What sizes are your documents? Standard high-speed scanners can work with documents up to 11x17". Documents larger than that (such as architectural drawings, blueprints or maps) need specialty oversized scanning. 4) How many index fields do you need captured? Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, we can make your documents searchable when they're converted to PDFs. Not all OCR technologies are built with the same level of sophistication. The system we use recognizes over 100 languages, ideal for organizations with multilingual documentation. OCR can also capture and recognize index fields in your document which can help to classify and organize information in your content management system. Index fields will change based on your unique requirements. In most cases, customers only require three standard fields based on their industry. However, there are some customers who have more complex needs and can ask for 50+ custom fields. 5) Do you have scanning accuracy compliance requirements? The industry standard for imaging accuracy rating is 99%, meaning for every 100 pages, one has an error. Customers with industry-specific compliance regulations sometimes require up to 99.99% accuracy, which requires additional QC and manual oversight that can add to the cost of your project. 6) Do you want each section, folder or document delivered as a PDF? Whether you want each section (common to land files), folder or document delivered as a PDF will affect your per-box price. If one folder has 10 documents in it, it can quickly be scanned all at once into a single PDF. If each of those documents needs to be separated into their own PDF, this will require more time and therefore higher cost. 7) Where are your records stored and where do you want them scanned? Our team can securely transport your records collection to our compliant scanning facilities in Calgary or Edmonton, or we can deploy records technicians to scan them on-site at your organization. The method you choose and the physical location of your records will factor into the price of your scanning project. Have questions? Leave us a comment below or contact us directly. Online Calculator for Per-Box Scanning Estimates Curious what scanning your banker's boxes will cost you? Check out our online calculator and get an estimate sent instantly to your inbox.

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