“You Can’t Take It with You”

By Lawrence Wischerth posted 11-28-2011 13:53


My hiatus from blogging is now officially over and I’m slowly returning back to the routine of submitting witty, urbane and incredibly entertaining snippets of wisdom and insight to the AIIM community…..

One of the reasons for my extended absence from blogging was because I was coordinating the move of our corporate and department files to our new corporate headquarters location here in New York City.  This was no small task when you consider that the project involved reviewing over 1600 file drawers. What do you do when you’re faced with the task of moving from one location to another?  It doesn’t matter whether it’s you moving to a new work location, your department moving to a new floor or your company moving to a new building, the effort still raises the age old dilemma………What do I do with all this stuff?

I know this topic seems rather mundane and non-technical for a Capture Community blog post, especially in this age of electronic everything, but it’s a very real business problem that has capture technology and ECM implications. For a corporate move deciding what to keep and what to throw away should be determined by a well-developed Records Management program.  How you keep it will probably be influenced by the level of technical sophistication available to you or your company.  But let’s agree that no matter where you or your company falls within this broad spectrum of sophistication, you should avoid the two extremes: 1. Keep Everything and 2. Scan Everything.

Records retention policies and business requirements are intended to provide the framework for determining what to keepand how long to keep it.  Access to scanners and content management systems will probably determine “how” you keep it.  And how you keep it will determine “where” you keep it; electronic storage, onsite file cabinets or offsite storage.

As a practical matter, keeping and moving everything should not be an option. Let’s face it, many people and businesses keep way too much paper for way too long.  Keeping paper is like a security blanket; it makes us feel better and helps us sleep better at night. But the risks and costs of moving and storing paper should be a strong incentive for us to give up our “wubbies”. 

So, the easy answer is to scan everything, right?   There’s no question that scanning does reduce the amount of paper to move and reduces filing space requirements in you new location. But remember, scanning everything takes time, effort and money. And, while it’s true that storage is relatively cheap, the cost of managing and backing up all that storage can add significantly to the overall cost. So scanning everything is probably not the answer either.

It takes time and careful planning to decide “what to do with all this stuff” when you move. You need to be organized and methodical in deciding what to keep and what to throw away. The reality is that your best solution will probably be a mixture of paper and electronic files.

To be successful, start the planning and review process early. A careful review of the file drawer contents is a tedious but necessary first step. Use your records retention policy as a guide and analyze the business value of your documents that are not Records before you decide to keep them.  Allow plenty of time for your scanning projects.  And remember: scanning projects require more than just a scanner. You need to plan for how the images will be indexed and identified, what systems will be used to store and retrieve the images, how will you control and track access and what levels of security are required. And remember, keeping every image forever is no better than keeping paper forever. Make sure you plan for some systematic deletion of electronic images so your electronic file systems don’t end up cluttered and outdated like your file cabinets.

Note:  Healthfirst employment is listed for identification purposes only.  Opinions expressed are personal opinions and not those of my employer   

#FileCabinet #Records-Management #ScanningandCapture #Scanning #ElectronicRecordsManagement #Moving