Paper documentation has been an essential part of business operations for thousands of years. Even today, in a digital world, we still work with paper to preserve essential records for financial, legal, and organizational needs. Using paper forces businesses to develop an organizational structure that takes time and space to maintain. Fortunately, there are software solutions that can minimize the physical clutter and eliminate the need for physical document storage. These solutions address several core questions that business owners must ask:
- Who is responsible for maintaining the documents?
Many business owners start by tending to sensitive documents themselves and keeping their file storage on private computers. As the business grows, however, this structure has flaws regarding how employees and contractors can access these files, which puts a greater demand on the owner’s time. Many employers invest in network servers and/or cloud-based networks to handle the storage aspect and delegate some authority to a nascent management structure.
- What kind of document templates will your business use?
For most businesses, templates are either an afterthought created based on the forms and files that you’ve created in the beginning, or they are lifted wholesale from a third party. There are many digital templates available online, but they must be tweaked to suit your business. Whether you’ve taken those templates for your own or created a document structure from scratch, you can box yourself in with unnecessary limitations if you don’t periodically examine why your files and forms are structured the way they are.
- How do you manage staff access to your documents?
This issue is related to the responsibility question above, but it focuses instead on how regular employees will access and store the documents necessary for their jobs. Do you want employees to enter the office to access their files physically, or does it make sense to enable your employees to access the documents remotely? The former reduces flexibility and potentially reduces employee satisfaction while the latter represents an increased security risk that you must manage appropriately.
Technology with an Emphasis on Compatibility
As you determine who manages the documents, it’s essential to recognize that this responsibility may shift over time. As your obligations and responsibilities shift, you may need to delegate authority to new subordinates who have different experiences or expectations regarding your structure. As a result, the files that you use matter in terms of which programs can use them. While the most common formats such as Word, Excel, and PDF each have advantages, the best thing you can do is to use software that can manage any of these.
Kofax Power PDF is the premier editor when you want to use PDF files as your primary method of archiving documents. You can take your old reports, receipts, procedures, and any other miscellaneous documents and convert them into a universally compatible format. Power PDF gives your team full control over the documents that you use and allows you to convert your documents between the formats you need, resulting in maximum flexibility combined with maximum compatibility.
Maintaining Access to Older Files as Technology Advances
Every business needs a flexible data storage structure that can accommodate growth and changing procedures. While there are several options from which you can choose, we’ve designed our software to integrate with the most popular options. Programs such as Power PDF and Kofax PaperPort work with local networks just as efficiently as cloud solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint. Those two systems each deserve a closer look:
- PaperPort helps your business scan physical documents of any kind and upload them to a secure network and storage space. Once uploaded, these documents are organized according to various categories and indexed for easy searching. This methodology minimizes the time your team must spend searching through those documents, which is especially helpful for those that are only necessary long after the fact. You can save valuable time while still producing an insightful analysis of your business’s spending, revenue, and HR practices.
- Microsoft designed SharePoint to let businesses bridge the physical gap and facilitate collaboration between different departments and offices. We’ve developed our software to integrate with this cloud-based network so that you can access, edit, and upload PDF documents and scans directly to this shared workspace. This feature is particularly useful for businesses whose employees may work remotely or who work from multiple locations.
Prioritizing Accessibility when Archiving Documents
The core function of any document archive is accessibility. When done correctly, an archive enables your team to view the information contained therein and make edits without spending much time searching. Through a combination of tags, folder structures, and key terms, you can devise an organizational schema that maximizes searchability and removes the most significant impediment to accessibility.
Beyond the system’s organizational structure, you must ensure that the network itself meets your needs. As mentioned above, with SharePoint, cloud solutions offer a flexible storage solution that removes the risks associated with damage to a physical drive. It also lets your team access documents from anywhere they have access to the internet. The tradeoff is that there is generally a regular maintenance fee. If all your employees work from a single location, you may be able to save some money by using a local area network.
Nevertheless, consider how your business may grow. Do you value the flexibility of working from distant locations? It may be worth investing in a cloud solution today so that you can prepare for tomorrow without having to transition between systems later.
Incorporating the Lessons for Your Business
Even with the clearest foresight, the way your business develops will depend on many factors. The employees you hire, market conditions and competition, and changing technology will each impact your business in ways you can’t predict. This inability to make definite predictions is a strong argument for selecting flexible solutions to today’s problems that nevertheless allow you to Work Like Tomorrow. Visit our product pages for Power PDF and PaperPort to learn more about each of these programs’ features.