Paper documents are increasingly being replaced by electronic records. And more and more firms are turning to digital mediums to replace traditional documents.
There are many benefits to this shift to digital formats. Firms can cut down on the expense of finding storage areas to house client files. And, digital records are often simply easier to search and organize. What are some simple steps to move your firm from the paper age to the electronic age?
Step #1: Make sure you have a staff that can tackle the new challenges.
Paper-based records management is vastly different than one based on electronic records. The first step to free yourself of paper is to figure out if you have enough knowledgeable staff to make the transition, including IT and compliance teams familiar with electronic records management.
Step #2: Make sure you are keeping track of where things are.
Document Management Systems (DMSs) can be used to help keep track of digital records. Some DMSs will also allow users to set how long different types of records are kept, keeping your records management program in line with statutory requirements.
Step #3: Avoid unnecessary duplication.
Emails especially can be ripe with duplicate documents, especially if associates are forwarding and cc-ing other recipients. Cut out the duplication and firms can save space and money.
Step #4: Implement a foolproof records management program.
Records management is vital to a firm. Ensure that you have a good system in place that will ensure digital documents are retained as long as they need to be retained. And, be sure that business records can be used and authenticated once located.
Step #5: Make sure you know how to find information.
The cost of searching through thousands of gigabytes of information can be high. When storing electronic records, make sure that there is some way for you to find information you need. And, that you know where to start looking.
The shift to electronic records may be daunting at first. But, it can be done - and it can end up benefitting your firm's bottom line. It can also wind up improving your firm's records-keeping system.
- Document Retention In The Digital Age: How Long Is Long Enough? (FindLaw)
- Objectives of a Comprehensive Records Management Program (FindLaw)
- Harvesting Electronic Discovery (FindLaw's Technologist)