New technology enables businesses to thrive in a rapidly growing world. It helps improve productivity, business communication, and security, which can give your organization an edge over your competitors.
Why businesses still use paper documents
But despite going digital, some industries such as finance, law, real estate, healthcare, and education still have physical paperwork as part of their critical workflow. This is because of the following reasons:
1. Regulations compliance
Businesses in the healthcare, law, and financial industries are required to keep paper documents for a certain number of years to comply with state and federal laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). These laws regulate what documents can be stored digitally and what must also remain in their physical form, such as documents that require a physical signature rather than a digital one.
2. Shelf life
Companies that need to store records for more than a few decades will find that paper records are better than digital ones. First, digital technology becomes obsolete over time, and transferring data from outdated storage media such as floppy discs can be tedious and difficult. Second, while transferring electronic records is faster, there is also a risk of losing data quality during the transfer process. Paper documents, on the other hand, can last hundreds of years when stored properly.
Storing documents digitally is more convenient compared to using file cabinets and lockers that take up a lot of office space. However, the risks posed by data breaches or hardware failure make digital files more vulnerable to theft, corruption, and deletion.
4. Guaranteed destruction
When paper documents are destroyed, their destruction is final and guaranteed, making the information stored in the documents unrecoverable. On the other hand, there are many ways to retrieve digital documents that have been deleted. If hackers manage to restore deleted digital documents, they can use the information in these to commit fraud or extortion.
How to keep paper documents safe
While minimizing the use of paper documents will help save the environment and reduce clutter in the workplace, it is also important to know how to keep these important paper documents safe. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Have a record retention plan
Properly organize and store important documents, such as those containing employee data, customer information, invoices, and business contracts. In your record retention plan, specify how long certain documents should be stored for legal reasons before being destroyed. Train employees in every process of the retention plan to prevent having redundant documents, missing documents, and being unable to retrieve important documents when needed.
2. Implement strict security policies
Restrict access to specific documents to authorized personnel only. This will help prevent theft and keep private information safe from prying eyes. Filing cabinets must be sturdy and always locked. Individuals who access important documents must return them immediately after use and never take them outside of the company premises or save a copy on their mobile devices.
Install security cameras in areas where sensitive documents are stored to monitor and protect them from unauthorized access at all times.
3. Store them off site
Paper documents that have not yet expired, but are not needed on a daily basis, can be stored off site. If you don't have the expertise, experience, and resources to do so securely, turn to an off-site document storage provider. This is ideal for businesses that lack both the storage space and security measures to keep their paper documents secure.
4. Dispose of unused paper documents properly
Ensuring the safety of paper documents from unauthorized use and access is important not only while they're in storage, but also when they're being destroyed. Before shredding the documents, black out the personal data of customers, business partners, and suppliers to ensure that this information will be unusable.
5. Digitize your documents
Natural disasters and accidents can severely damage document storage areas/facilities and destroy the paper records they contain. The only way to protect paper documents from such incidents is to digitize them. Digitizing paper documents will ensure that you will have backup copies of your important files stored securely in servers or the cloud, in case the original ones are destroyed.
If your business is looking for an effective way to keep paper documents safe, turn to a trusted document management specialist like Complete Document Solutions. Our document security service will ensure your paper and digital documents at all times. Call us today to learn more.