Even though we live in a digital age, paper documentation is still essential to running any sort of business effectively. However, depending on how much paper documentation you need to operate and how much is required in your industry, your management of this paper can require a lot of work—and can easily get out of hand as you grow.
Between printing, storing, shredding, and scanning, there are a number of paper-related costs that can bog down your revenue cycle. However, by following the 5 tips below, you can work toward minimizing these costs and improving how you manage your paper documentation.
1. Limit Your Third-Party Vendors
First, if you hire any third-party vendors to outsource these functions (printing, storing, shredding, scanning), it doesn’t make sense to use multiple vendors for the same function. If you currently have 2 companies that store your documents, it’s likely that either will give you a lower per-box rate if you give them all of your business.
Further, many vendors offer a number of services, like scanning, shredding, and storing, and you will likely get a better deal if you outsource all these functions to them. It’s like shopping at Costco—if you buy in bulk, you’ll get a lower per-unit cost.
2. Invest in Your Third-Party Vendors
Additionally, if you do hire third-party vendors for these functions, make an investment in them—don’t just settle for the cheapest vendor if you have to sacrifice quality. Don’t be afraid to shell out a little bit more to have a licensed, bonded, insured, reputable vendor store your documents, for example. Make sure they have up-to-date storage facilities, with up-to-code sprinkler systems and security measures.
The piece of mind is worth the additional markup, as these might be important documents that you need to be sure are secure. The same goes for scanning and shredding—you’ll be thankful for high-quality scans and to know that your documents are actually destroyed.
3. Consider What-If Scenarios
Plan ahead and plan for the worst—be prepared. There are horror stories of trucks filled with documents that have customers’ or patients’ personal information that ended up in a wreck on the way to an off-site shredding facility, spreading this private info across the city. For scenarios like this, you may want to consider bringing your shredding on-site, rather than off, to avoid this type of (very costly) accident.
As suggested in #2, investing in your vendors will reduce this risk. Not only can you find a reputable vendor with years experience, you can also find a partner with the right insurance to cover any costs associated with these worst case scenarios.
4. Routinely Clean Out Your Stored Documents
There’s no reason to hold onto physical copies of those decade-old documents that you haven’t touched in years. Depending on what industry you’re in, its sometimes suggested to destroy documents older than 7 years, to hold onto physical copies of anything 3 years or younger, and to scan everything in between into a database.
Of course, this isn’t set in stone—do whatever is the best protocol for your organization and whatever allows you to comply with regulations. But regardless of the timetable you set, set a timetable. By routinely cleaning out your old stored documents, you can make space for newer documents, as well as keep your storage costs from growing. It’s like they say, out with the old, in with the new.
5. Plan Your Indexing
Lastly, when converting your paper-based documents into digital files through scanning (often called imaging), it’s also recommended that you index your files. Though some vendors may charge an additional fee for indexing each scanned document, having a highly organized and user-friendly indexing schema is recommended.
Consider your current manual filing system, what types of searches end users will be making to find documents, and what’s best for your staff—whether it be by date, file name, alphabetically, numerically, or by file type. Use whatever system works best and allows your staff to find the document they need when they need it.
So even though there’s a huge push to go paperless, some paper documentation is still necessary or required. However, by following these tips you can reduce the costs associated with the mentioned functions and make your documentation process more efficient.