Digitizing documents is becoming increasingly common as more businesses shift to automated and paperless systems. The following are best practices small businesses can follow in order to help digitize their documents more effectively.

Invest in a Scanner

A scanner is essential for digitizing documents. Once scanned, the documents can be stored electronically. You may prefer a standalone scanner for best quality and ease of use. By using the scanner's built-in software or a scanning software like Adobe Acrobat, you can store the files in various formats, such as an image or a portable document format (PDF) file. This will allow you to get rid of nonessential paper documents and free up space. According to Storage and Destruction Business, "If a business generates 500,000 documents per year, 25,000 original documents are still paper-based and need to be securely and properly managed."

If your business must retain paper documents to comply with an industry authority's regulations, you may still want to digitize those documents for added security and access. However, keep in mind not every document requires scanning and archiving. For instance, you can generally recycle those bulky product manuals, since you can retrieve an online electronic version from the manufacturer in most cases.

Use a Smartphone

Thanks to the abundance of scanning apps, you can use your smartphone's camera to scan some smaller documents on-the-go, such as dining and travel receipts or business cards. This is a fast and efficient way to archive less critical documents that you accumulate on a day-to-day basis. It also helps you free up space and stay organized.

Backup Files

Backing up your digitized files is critically important. Losing essential documents can put your business at risk. You should store digitized files in at least two places. For instance, you can you use an external hard drive as well as cloud-based storage to ensure redundancy.

Third Party Storage

If you choose to have your documents digitized by a third party, due diligence is necessary. Your documents may contain proprietary and confidential information, so be sure to seek a provider that has the proper credentials and security measures in place to keep your records safe. Digitizing services can be an option when time and resources are a factor. Bound documents, photo slides and large format items take more expertise to digitize. Third party resources are sometimes better in this case and may help ensure documents are properly preserved.

More of today's small businesses are turning to digitizing documents. Follow these best practices so you can help keep your electronic files organized and secure. Lastly, given that document retention requirements may vary depending on your industry and circumstances, seek advice from a professional should you have questions about policies or legal requirements that could affect you and your business.

Tags: paperless digitizing documents