What, When, Where, Why, and How

By Bob Larrivee posted 12-14-2010 16:16


These are five things you need to know in relation to converting your paper based information. When you begin the process of conversion to digital format, one of the comments I often hear is, “we will scan everything!” Wrong! This is not really a good approach unless there is some legal or regulatory reason driving you to do this. What you need to do is consider the five things in my title.

What? What do you really need to scan and convert? What are the vital bits of information and what is not? This includes all of the paper information like sticky notes.

When? When do you want to convert this information? Do you want to convert it all at once or is a day forward with on-demand the better approach? If you choose day forward, you are simply saying that all things from here on go into the digital repository and not the physical file cabinets. If you pull from the cabinet, scan it and do not put it back, unless there is a reason you require the hard copy as back-up.

Where? Where will you scan this information? Are you planning to set up a central scan center or will distributed scan work for you? Perhaps your remote locations will be responsible to capture their information which of course means proper equipment, set up and training.

Why? Why are you keeping this? Now is a good time to clean house of all the information that is no longer relevant and may put you at risk. If there is no business value and no legal reason to keep it, throw it away.

How? How will it be stored in the new repository? You need establish a set of metadata, taxonomy and format for all of your information to be captured and managed properly. The idea of simply scanning and dumping into a repository typically does not work any better than if you dropped all of the paper into a big box. Sure you can search it, but will you find what you are looking for? Having a planned storage structure is essential.

In my view, capture is a great step forward and one that needs careful consideration lest you make all of the effort only to find you are no better or worse shape than before. Take time to ask and What, When, Where, Why and How so that your efforts reap the rewards you seek. Once you have done this, ask one more question, who will do the capturing? Not that this is unimportant, because it is, but I will leave that part of the discussion for another day.

If you are not sure how to go about moving in that direction, seek professional assistance and/or training to get you started.

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? What is on your mind? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.


Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM

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