Going Paperless? It Pays to Develop a Document Management Strategy

Posted by Gary Skalyo on Wed, May 25, 2011

Document Management SolutionsThere is a lot of focus and effort being put forth by Businesses and Organizations to Go Paperless. Having a Scanning Service Bureau Scan their Stored Paper Documents & Records into searchable document files, this is called Backfiling or Archiving.

After all, there is plenty of incentive to do so; from the cost of Office Space and Off-Site Storage all the way to the substantial costs of Safeguarding and Retrieving files when necessary and replacing lost or missing files.

At the same time, Businesses and Organizations are also realizing that going forward a Document Management Solution (DMS), sometimes referred to as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a great way to Manage, Route and Store their Business Documents. It also eliminates the need and cost of Backfiling in the future.

However, you have to be able to distinguish the Value of the two Solutions, Backfiling and Document Management. This is because Document Management requires a more granular filing methodology known as “Indexing” where each document type is defined by one or more relational index fields that are used in the filing process. This makes the Documents more Dynamic and easily manageable within the DMS Platform.

Backfiling, by contrast is generally Scanning the Documents into .PDF Files that are fully text and keyword searchable and stored in a flat file Windows Folder structure. Less Dynamic but much less expensive to accomplish from a Backfiling Perspective.

There is no doubt that going forward, Businesses and Organizations would really benefit from adopting a Document Management Solution. But they really have to plan well and assign value(s) to the stored documents for Backfiling to see if any need to be included in the DMS Solution.

To illustrate how this can unfold in a Real World Situation, let me share with you an email exchange that led to a meeting and assessment, with an existing client (a Large Law Firm IT Administrator):


Received your Brochure on scanning today when the toner was dropped off. Do you have an approx. cost per page...? We are looking to go to document management in the next year and one of the big question marks is scanning in old records, etc... This is what we have to scan, there are a few thousand boxes at Iron Mountain, and I have a room that's probably 60' x 120' on the 5th floor filled with shelves, another 20' x 20' room on the 12th floor and a 30' x 60' room on 13. What do you think?


(IT Director)


Wow that is a lot of boxes. I know Iron Mountains’ expense and I can guess at the cost of square footage in your building, sounds like a lot of documents and a really lofty undertaking. But there is a big incentive in the form of cost reduction for your firm.

I am glad to hear you guys are looking to deploy a Document Management Solution. That in itself, sifting through the myriad of Products & Options to qualify and choose a Solution is also an undertaking. We have been using a DMS for about 5 years now and we have been saying for years, “how did we ever do this the old way”?

In any event, I will quickly address your question of cost. There is no blanket answer to that question, it could be done for as little as $.03 per page and go as high as you can imagine. Typically an assessment, or several assessments in your case should be done to determine what you want to have scanned in a Fully Structured Format for your DMS, and what you want to have scanned in an Un-Structured or Semi-Structured Format to eliminate the cost of Iron Mountain and the Square Footage Downtown. In other words you will not want to go with the expense of the entire Backfile Project in a Fully Structured Format; it would certainly be cost prohibitive. You really need to break all of that down into manageable groups.

In fact you really need to treat your Backfile project as a different initiative. I say this because Document Management, once implemented and going forward will probably have several different and meaningful ‘moving parts’. Examples are Document Capture and Routing, Forms and Workflow Automation as well as the Secure Repository which will be the foundation for your business processes going forward.

Once you have the workload segmented into the Structured and Semi-Structured Groups, you obviously will be putting this out to quote. We would really like the opportunity to quote this business and to work with you to assess what you have and segment the work. Like copies that you guys have done periodically by the Downtown Services, there are several factors we would use to quote the segmented groups. The type of paper, staples, paperclips, Indexing Requirements and what is done with the boxes upon completion of the capture.

I know you don’t like meetings, but this will be impossible to do without a couple along the way. Let me know if you would like to meet and preliminarily work on a Strategy for this project. I think our Group has a different perspective than many of the Copy/Scan companies that focus on the Legal industry.


--Gary Skalyo

If you are looking to Go Paperless and use a Document Management Solution and/or explore the Value in Backfiling your Stored Paper Documents using a Scanning Service Bureau, my advice is as follows:

  • Treat the 2 Projects as just that, 2 Separate Projects.
  • Interview 3 or more Solutions Providers for a Document Management Solution to see whose rational is most in tune with yours, Interview 3 or more Scanning Service Bureaus for the same reason.
  • Choose someone in your Organization to “Champion” this effort. Going from an unmanaged series of Filing Cabinets and Paper, Electronic Documents in everybody’s Inbox, etc., is a tremendous responsibility that will change the way your Enterprise does business for years.
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Topics: Document Management Solutions, Paperless Office, Paperless Filing, Green Initiative