Digitizing content and automating workflows are the way of the future when it comes to document management. However, the reality is that not all organizations are ready to go completely paperless. Industries such as aerospace, legal, real estate, and government have a surplus of paper records in warehouses or simply cannot get around having key documents on paper.
That does not mean, however, that two seperate systems are required—one for storing and managing paper documents, and one for digital documents. In fact, the best content services platforms for these types of organizations should include both hardcopy document management and electronic document management, integrated into one seamless platform.
What is Integrated Hardcopy Document Management?
Hardcopy document management is simply a system for organizing, storing, coding, and labeling physical paper documents (“hardcopy”). Even though the documents being managed are physical ones, the actual management can leverage digital tools to improve organization and search.
The main issue that many organizations have with paper to begin with is that it is seen as inefficient and it takes up space. The inefficiency of paper documents has little to do with the actual material, however. The problem comes from the fact that organizing, locating, and retrieving the correct documents is difficult without the help of computers (i.e., a document database). But integrating organized paper document storage with such a database relieves many of these problems, preventing paper documents from destroying productivity.
What about hardcopy document storage? Yes, paper does take up physical space. But in many cases, paper documents can be sorted and stored off-site, and then accessed only as needed—no different from storing digital files in the cloud and accessing them when needed.
Most importantly, paper and electronic documents can exist side-by-side in an integrated solution. Although one is stored physically and the other virtually, information about them can be managed through a single system, which only helps to streamline workflows.
Here are some examples of industries already benefiting from an integrated approach:
Hardcopy Document Management in Aerospace
Businesses in the aerospace industry face a huge number of regulations, and that goes hand-in-hand with meticulous documentation. Safety documentation, for example, often requires paper copies, as do forms such as Airworthiness Release Certificates. While many companies are making the move to electronic forms, they also want to keep additional copies on paper, too. Having a physical repository as a sort of backup makes sense…but only if it can be organized and accessed in the same way as electronic documents.
Hardcopy Document Management for Law Firms (Legal)
From briefs and depositions to financial documents, transcripts, and even notes, law firms generate a lot of paper documents. And while there has been a push for “paperless” law offices for years now, the truth is that most law firms still must traffic in paper documents. Having the ability to search for the paper documents you need, in an instant—during an appeals process, for example—makes your office that much more productive.
That said, it does not make sense to keep mountains of paper at your offices. An off-site storehouse can keep your documents secure yet accessible, which means that they will leave a smaller physical footprint at your office (or home office). Integrated hardcopy and electronic document management can and should include delivery service, too. Our service, for example, can put your hardcopy documents in your hand in as little as 1-2 hours.
Hardcopy Document Management for Government (Public Sector)
Government agencies deal with tons of data every day and have strict guidelines when it comes to the creation and maintenance of records, particularly records that must remain within the public domain. Keeping up with best practices in records management for government agencies is easy with electronic documents, but most agencies create and maintain paper forms. (The IRS, for example, is famous for mailing all communications and never emailing or texting taxpayers. The local DMV is another example—very few have gone totally paperless, even today.) Agencies, then, need reliable hardcopy document management that meets the level of security and compliance needed.
That said, electronic recordkeeping has become a government mandate, and so agencies with paper processes will need an easy way to transition. For example, The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has announced that it will no longer accept paper documents as of 2022. This will affect all facets of government, as most agencies and departments need to manage their records in compliance with NARA’s statutes and regulations. An integrated document management solution provides an easier way for organizations to transition from a “paper and…” operation to a paperless one in preparation for NARA’s deadline.
Hardcopy Document Management for Real Estate
Even with the rise of electronic forms as a way to do contactless signings, most real estate-related paperwork still exists as, well, paper. Digitizing those documents takes some time. In the meantime, real estate agencies, title companies, and real estate law firms need a way to manage older paper documents like titles, inspections, mortgage lending statements, lead abatement certificates, and so on. And because many agents work from their home (or let’s be honest, their car), it helps if these hardcopy documents can be stored off-site.
How is Integrated Document Management Possible?
Unlike many other providers of content services platforms and document management solutions, we here at QFlow realize that paper documents will be with us for a long time, especially in the industries mentioned above.
That’s why we built Q-Action to be able to work with electronic documents and index records of hardcopy documents. Documents are documents, so it only makes sense to have a single tool for managing them, no matter how they “exist.”
It’s also why we partner with best-of-breed companies like William B. Meyer, a logistics, relocation, and storage solution for documents and other important assets. William B. Meyer can store records off-site for our clients, who then use our platform to find and request the documents they need. Together, we can usually retrieve and deliver boxes or even individual files to your offices with standard next-day service. Expedited delivery is available within three hours.
Both our software integrations and our strategic partnerships have the same goals: To make everything easy and seamless for our customers. Because you should be focused on serving your customers, not spending time chasing down paperwork.
If this sounds like the kind of integrated solution your organization needs, connect with a QFlow expert today to discuss your electronic and hardcopy document management needs.