3 Steps to Enable Remote Workers with Critical Analog (Paper) Data

by Dan Rotelli | March 20, 2020

The drive-up window works great for fast food, but not so great for paper records. So what is your paper-to-insight strategy?

There are 3 proven steps you must take today to start a data enrichment campaign to empower remote worker productivity and save your organization from disruption.

Why Start Digitizing Paper Now?

Because the risk of losing access to vital paper records is just too high.

analog and digital dataIf your workforce depends on paper records to generate valuable revenue or public support, then your success hinges on how much access to physical records you have when those records aren’t available to workers.

We know how vital paper records are. They’re a part of most organizations' ecosystems for everything from research, transaction validation, and to support external requests.

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It's The Only Copy of Important Data

We’re already seeing how startling the loss of paper records are to mission-critical workflows.

We’ve heard numerous stories of workers who are literally driving to their offices and receiving boxes of paperwork to take home for processing. This puts your data at risk, because in many situations these records represent the only copy of vital (and oftentimes sensitive) information.

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How to Start a Data Enrichment Campaign in 3 Steps:

#1:  Digitization of Records

Enriching workflows with data is more than digitizing physical records. Digitization is only a first step in the journey. You must set the proper priority for digitization.

Historical Records on Film – Priority 1

How much valuable information is contained on microfiche, microfilm, and aperture cards? Do remote workers have access to this information? If not, getting these types of records scanned should be your first priority.

old-analog-record-Historical Records on Paper – Priority 2

Do you have duplicate copies of paper records? Most likely the answer to this is “no.”

The risk of information loss or accidental disclosure of protected information is too great to send boxes of paperwork home with employees. These types of records should be your second priority for digitization.

Day-Forward Paper Records – Priority 3

Paper records that are generated or acquired during the course of everyday business are the easiest to capture. These records should be digitized the moment they are acquired.

If this isn’t possible, then arrange for a lockbox service for rapid processing.

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#2: Develop Your Data Literacy Requirements – What’s the Minimum Viable Data Product?

We’ve established that digitizing records is the first step in your data enrichment campaign.

scan analog documentCreating a plan to convert physical documents to digital is the easiest step because this work is easily transferred to a 3rd party with high-speed scanning equipment.

Now, what data will you actually need from documents and how you will discover that data?  This step requires careful planning and the involvement of employees who are subject matter experts and regular consumers of the information.

How to Organize Your Newly Scanned Documents

After records are scanned, how will they be found? Considerations need to be made for:

  • How files will be named
  • Where they will be stored
  • What types of information need to be extracted from the records and then attached as searchable metadata

If you have a large quantity of preserved historical records, then most likely you already have a methodology for how they are indexed.

You’ll need a digitization solution that preserves this index so that critical information from records is seamlessly integrated into your software applications and file stores.

#3: Achieve Rapid Insight

In the event of crisis or urgent demand for remote access to physical records, the most critical consideration is how long it will take to complete the entire data enrichment campaign.

rapid data insightWhen time is the most important factor, many organizations take shortcuts that end up being very costly in terms of quality or human labor.

Why It's Wise to Go With a Single Solution

The very best solution to achieving rapid insight is by choosing a single-source solution for every step of the journey.

By combining data extraction with the digitization process, for example, your important records will only need to be handled one time. In the past, or when time wasn’t as important, large-scale digitization projects were completed by different vendors. Possibly with a document scanning service.

One vendor would provide the scanning (and possibly low-quality optical character recognition), and another vendor (oftentimes overseas) would provide the data extraction or manual data entry of the important information contained on the records.

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