I thought the world was going paperless.
What happened to the paperless office?
Didn't imaging take over paper files 20 years ago?
Well, not so fast. Yes, technologies available today allow and enable both the digitizing of existing paper documents and complete records, as well as the original creation of records which never did or will live on a piece of paper. This is what we refer to today as electronic records, digital files, imaging, and probably a host of other technology terms.
Paper seems to be here to stay, but the same could be said for digital records. The difference today is that people, offices, institutions and businesses are finally getting it - both hard copy and digital records have effective use, function and purpose, and they will for a long time.
Think of a business or office, or heck, your own home. It is hard to identify an operation which utilize paper exclusively. Receive an email lately? Scan a bill? Save a web page? If you answer is yes to any of these questions, they you my friend are practicing digital or electronic records management. Similarly, do you own a printer or scanner, do you maintain any physical documents such as a marriage license, passport, property deed, lease agreement, etc...? If so, well, I guess technology hasn't completely unseated your paper-based records keeping requirements, and probably won't for many years.
The fact is that both of these methods of reviewing, accessing, maintaining and archiving records and information are useful, relevant and effective. We need and do both. The trick is knowing how and where to make the separation, and once you do, how to execute each system of records keeping in a way that will preserve the information and make it easily accessible for years to come.
An essential step in this process is arming yourself with the tools required so you have choices. If you receive a document that could be more efficiently stored or maintained electronically, such as a bill that is paid but may require future access, having an efficient desktop scanner is essential. It should be plugged in and ready to go, as the easier it is for you to convert a document from hard copy to digital the more likely you are to maintain proper separation between the two. Scansnap by Fujitsu is one of our favorite and most useful tools for this purpose. Here's a link: