If you are like most companies, it would be in your best interest to reduce costs, simplify operations and increase efficiency by converting to electronic documents storage. But there are some serious concerns that all companies which move to these systems will need to address.
A concern for any publicly traded company is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a federal law that requires any financial or accounting document to be available for auditors or federal authorities. Corporate executives and accountants that don’t comply with this law can go to federal prison.
Any company that files a report with the SEC must comply with Sarbanes Oxley. This means that records must be accessible and retrievable at any time — or the company can get into serious legal trouble.
Another big concern is providing backup for the electronic documents. A company that uses electronic document storage will have to have the files backed up on a secured hard drive off site. There are companies that can provide this service but it can be costly.
A problem arises in that your company will have to be able to access documents quickly if your regular computer system isn’t available. Additionally, what about security? You certainly don’t want financial and other important documents stolen.
The off site backup will have to be both secure and easily accessible, and again, if the company is publicly traded this backup will have to be in compliance with Sarbanes Oxley.
An important aspect of electronic document storage that is often neglected is scanning. The scanned documents will have to be completely visible, easily accessed and actually in the system.
Investing extra money in quality scanning technology and scanning technicians that know what they are doing will be money well spent. Many companies think that they have scanned documents in their system but don’t realize they can’t see the documents in the system until they are needed.
It is always a good idea to have somebody checking on scanned documents to make sure they actually get into the system. Another good check is to have somebody who isn’t computer-knowledgeable try to locate scanned documents in the system. If an average person can’t locate scanned documents in the system easily, then electronic document storage has failed.
To be effective, electronic document storage should allow the average person to be able locate a document and print a clear copy of it in under ten minutes. If electronic document storage can’t pass that test, you should go back to the drawing board.
Rick Philman works in the technology department of Tree Services of Orlando.