How to Connect Digital Documents with Physical Ones

How to Connect Digital Documents with Physical Ones

When computers were first deployed by businesses, everyone assumed that paper would completely disappear. However, in reality, technology has caused organisations to adopt hybrid management strategies, relying on both PCs and paper. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially considering that many consumers and companies still submit paperwork for numerous reasons – from payroll and invoicing to ordering and requests for proposals.

“SMEs in the UK spend approximately million per day searching for documents.”

The problem with a hybrid management strategy is that a connection between digital and physical documents often does not exist, as paperwork typically remains distinct and separate from virtual files. This causes numerous issues. For example, the Forum of Private Business cited a YouGov survey that found small and midsized enterprises in the U.K. spend approximately £42.2 million each day simply looking for documents. Additionally, employees’ productivity is stunted as they struggle to solve a puzzle in which the pieces are spread across data centres and file cabinets.

Removing the separation between digital and physical documents and files could revolutionise the way companies fundamentally function and earn revenue, effectively improving an organisation from the core of its productivity. According to an IDC report, executives and business managers believe that they can improve document processes by connecting and sharing them more seamlessly, reducing costs and risk by 30 percent and 23 percent respectively, as well as increasing their revenue by 36 percent. Furthermore, 45 percent of those professionals asserted that productivity will rise if their organisations can implement a “connected document environment.”

The only solution is to remove the disconnect between physical and digital realms. Doing so, however, will demand a strategy, some technology and a firm hand. Let’s take a look at each of those aspects of connecting documents.

Focus on the Employees
At the end of the day, solving the so-called “document disconnect” – naming credit goes to IDC – will benefit a business’s employees, making it critical to consider staff members and their workflows when trying to seamlessly integrate physical processes with digital ones by, for example, finding a solution as a unit, with managers probing their co-workers for input on their needs and demands. By collecting this feedback from day one, executives can ensure that employees will use new solutions and actually become more productive.

Create a Central Repository in the Cloud
According to IDC, 73 percent of employees work at locations other than their office for “some part of each week.” After all, this is the age of enterprise mobility and telecommuting, so businesses need to be sure that their staff members can access both physical and digital documents via a single platform regardless of where they are or what device they are using.

Cloud-based content platforms are perfect for mobility, as long as they allow users to upload resources as well as download physical documents in digital form. This blended approach – in which businesses leverage digital files and physical ones in harmony – is perfect for larger organisations with employees always on the go and robust training programmes. In essence, it provides options, but more importantly, each channel can be used in conjunction with one another, giving staff members and customers supporting information when necessary. For example, employees can purchase a printed manual on an online marketplace, and that can prompt a digital download of supplemental worksheets or training videos.

Create a Central Repository in the Cloud
Employees need global access to physical documents, and cloud-based content platforms enable that ability.

Implement and Enforce Policies and Practices
All efforts to connect physical and digital content will be for nothing if employees don’t use the tools and platforms made available to them. Additionally, staff members must follow specific protocols and practices when uploading or downloading files, as this will ensure that no documents are ever lost or misplaced.

If a number of employees have no idea where to store physical paperwork after it has been uploaded digitally, this creates a headache for management and makes finding the appropriate information more difficult. A strict policy can prevent a business from experiencing a similar fate.

In brief, organisations can solve document management problems with ease, as long as they stick to the above tips and remember that digital content platforms will be much more helpful in this regard compared to traditional cloud storage services.


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