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Data breaches are costly to businesses. Not only does a data breach result in significant fines, but it can easily tarnish a business’ reputation. Bob Hoffman, Director of Imaging Sales for Cintas, analyzes common challenges businesses face when developing a digital records management program and provides strategic techniques to assist with a secure and efficient transition to keep sensitive information safe.

Data Management Dos and Don’ts

By Bob Hoffman, Director of Imaging Sales, Cintas

Data overload is a growing problem for businesses. As organizations accumulate more personal data, they are also being held increasingly accountable if a data breach or identity theft occurs. With the cost of data breaches continuing to rise, poor document management practices can result in a large unexpected business expense due to labor and related legal fees and expenses. In fact, according to the Pomenon Institute, the average cost per breach in 2009 was $6.75 million. Additionally, data breaches not only cost companies time and money, but they can also take a significant toll on public trust. This often makes it difficult for businesses to survive a security breach.

To reduce this risk and potential exposure, many companies are exploring the option of using paperless systems. Digital imaging solutions improve the security and efficiency of office operations while also supporting corporate sustainability initiatives. With this system, once a document has served its purpose, it is either saved in a secure image format or a secure storage environment. If the document no longer needs to be retained (according to state and federal regulations), it should be destroyed by a confidential document shredding provider.

However, the transition to paperless can be daunting for a business if you do not know what to expect. When exploring various paperless solutions, some companies run into obstacles that prevent them from moving forward with a total and complete digitized solution. In turn, becoming digital is mistakenly viewed as an unattainable goal by those businesses. As a result, many businesses ultimately stay with their current, outdated methods rather than exploring other cost-effective, hybrid imaging solutions that can improve their business operations.

Transitioning to a Secure, Digital Environment

If your company wants to make a transition to a digitized model, it is important to evaluate and work through the three most common obstacles:

  1. Process. Plan for the transition. To bring the plan to execution, it is important to outline how you will change your internal processes throughout the migration and how you will communicate these changes to your staff. This ensures that all parties involved will know what to expect and how to plan for it, allowing for a smooth transition.
  2. Cost. Many business leaders find the initial cost intimidating. First, it is important to find a cost-effective document management provider that can work with you to customize a solution specifically for your company. Often you may not need a fully loaded solution with unnecessary features, but rather a system that meets your specific needs. While there is an initial upfront cost, it is typically a one-time expense and only maintenance fees will be required in future planning. It is also important to take into account the future cost saving factors involved, as well. Once digital, companies are potentially able to reduce head count, increase employee productivity, and reallocate assets to other areas that generate greater revenue.
  3. Internal Resistance. Many employees may be slow to change and are not ready to work in a completely digital format. However, more and more people in the workforce are used to performing all functions of their jobs electronically. Digital imaging is not going away. The longer a company waits to move to a digitized solution, the greater the potential risk of losing a competitive advantage.

You Have Options

By partnering with a reputable document management provider, you have the opportunity to have all your files living in a secure environment with a unique user ID system that controls access. Once files are uploaded into the secured database, they are organized to your specifications, simplifying the retrieval process and providing you with a user-friendly system for filtering and analysis. In addition to its increased security and ease of use, this system offers peace of mind knowing that your files are guaranteed complete backup, redundancy and disaster recovery.

There are many options with the process of imaging documents; it does not have to be an “all or nothing” process. The right document management provider can offer customized solutions to meet the needs of your business. For example, if your company requires long term record retention but has a low retrieval volume, it will most likely not be feasible or cost effective to convert every single file. A viable alternative is to partner with a provider that can store and manage large volumes of existing files off-site (document storage), yet deliver paper records in an “on demand” electronic format. This enables employees to work with electronic records on a daily basis and saves the company significant working capital in converting years of physical records.

Another solution is to use a web-hosted document management solution. Many organizations find this ideal if they transition from paper to electronic imaging. In this scenario, a document management provider will image all of your documents and maintain them on its servers. Authorized employees can then access all of the images through a secured web-based search. All that is required is an internet connection. This eliminates the need for your company to host additional software or hardware. Employees enjoy the simplicity of accessing their information whether they are in the office or on the road.

Overall, no matter what the circumstances are in your company, you can transition to an electronic document format. The key is finding the right provider that can work to meet your needs and help you achieve a more secure, efficient and eco-friendly work environment.

Bob Hoffman is Director of Imaging Sales for Cintas Corporation. He has more than 23 years of document management experience. For more information, please visit