One overlooked downside of an over-reliance on paper documents is that you're probably in trouble in the case of a disaster.
Many companies backup their data and think they have a disaster recovery plan.
Some companies have their documents on paper in a filing cabinet, tucked away in the corner and think “Safe! Hackers can't get me!”
Many companies don't even think about preparing for a disaster.
A “disaster” is anything that disrupts the normal operation of your business or office.
Of course, there are the disasters that spring to mind with the word – wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and all of the other delights Mother Nature can inflict on us.
There are also the less-exciting, but more frequent, disasters that affect business:
- No second copy of a critical business document
- Lost files
- Inability to find a document quickly
- Servers crashing from user error
- Many more
I want to focus on the first two, especially as they relate to paper documents and document management.
What's a Disaster?
The smooth functioning of business relies on documents – invoices, customer letters, proposals, contracts, etc. Documents are the foundation on which we build our business.
There are plenty of inefficiencies when you rely solely on paper documents – slow retrieval time, inability for multiple people to access a document at once, and high storage costs to name a few.
Paper documents can also be lost.
Do you have copies of your most important documents stored off-site?
If you only have one copy and a disaster like flood or fire does strike your office, your documents could be washed away or your business could go up in smoke (literally).
Of course, floods and fire (or tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.) infrequently hurt business.
There's a different disaster in every office. We'll call her Betty.
The Problem With Betty
“Betty” (or Bill for that matter) has a habit of hoarding documents.
When you have a client looking for an answer, but the contract is buried somewhere on Betty's desk, that's functionally the equivalent of a business disaster.
You can't find the document. You can't answer the customer's questions. The customer isn't happy and, who knows, might look elsewhere the next time they're looking to buy.
Avoid Disaster – and Betty
Document management software saves you from disaster. Because the documents are available online, multiple people can access and use the same document simultaneously.
With search functionality, documents can be found quickly with a few keystrokes.
Finally, if your office is unfortunate enough to experience a disaster, it's easy to save redundant copies of your documents safely in the cloud where they'll still be accessible while your paper files are floating downstream.