In the past, we had numerous filing cabinets and much inefficiency in how our paper filing systems were being handled. In addition to having an enormous amount of paper stored in the front office, everything eventually would need to be moved to a dead storage room at the end of the year to make room for next year’s paper activity.
Something had to give. We needed to be able to access information from those old files, but that was virtually impossible. Even if staff members could get into the dead storage area, there was no guarantee that documents had been filed or re-filed properly, and there was a chance someone removed a file and never returned it. Worse yet, some documents didn’t exist at all, because a fire destroyed them.
We needed to improve the efficiency of retrieving information when we needed it and reduce the time and effort required to store everything. We also needed to consider our disaster recovery issues.
We assessed possible enterprise content management vendors and went through the proposal process. When we called around to businesses that used docSTAR, we got good reviews.
To begin with, we started to ‘docSTAR’ a year of vendor files. Yes, the process of scanning and electronically filing documents is so engrained at our company that “docSTAR” has become a verb.
Once our employees became comfortable with the process and confident that documents were easily retrievable, we made scanning and filing part of our routine. Any time we generate a piece of paper, whether we cut a check or process some other document, it gets scanned into the system almost on a daily basis. So we started with a ‘catch-up’ process and then moved to a ‘real-time’ process.
Additional space: we’ve been able to eliminate ten five-drawer filing cabinets full of paper.
Ease of retrieval: no longer do we need to take the time to walk to a file cabinet, try and determine whether the person filed it under A or B or wherever, and hope it’s there. Being able to find something—and find it quickly—is huge. That’s been a real workflow benefit.
Remote access: provided you can access your network remotely via a secure VPN. The system allows us to work at home and, for example, access and verify information for a report.
It’s part of our disaster recovery plan: if any paper documents we have scanned were to be destroyed, we could replace them. And the electronic files are backed up, so they’re accessible in the event of a catastrophe, as well.
Significant cost reduction in terms of storing paper, in both day-to-day use, as well as the dead storage costs. We estimated more than 7,500 documents are now stored in docSTAR with an average cost savings of $1.75 per document, when you factor the labor costs in filing the documents originally, retrieving them, moving them to dead storage, 10 filing cabinets originally used to store them, and the additional costs of purchasing hanging folders files and dead storage boxes. This equates to well more than $13,000 in annual savings, and the ability to actually locate the documents is priceless!
With the most recent changes in our copier/scanner machines, we can actually scan from those machines directly into docSTAR. This means people don’t have to go to the docSTAR station and physically scan the items in. That will be an added time savings.
Once you start down this path and people become accustomed to it, you start getting even greater benefits. You find other applications—or other people see what you’re doing—and then you can expand the process to other applications and it just spreads.