Reducing Paper

The Ultimate Guide

Everything you need to know about records storage, scanning, and document management software

Paper stackWe get it: your business has too much paper, no staff time to sift through and manage it, and no desire to pay exorbitant records storage fees year after year.

It’s a problem that spans industries and has compounded over the years—more paper is created now than at any other time in history.

Best practices for business documents

So you’ve started to research how your office can go paperless. Great start. However, what seems at first like a simple question can become more nuanced once you dig into what kinds of files you’re storing.

Some of your paper can be securely shredded, sure. And some of it can go into records storage.

But some, now that you think about it, legally needs to be stored for a certain amount of time before you can destroy it, and you need a way to manage that process.

Maybe some of your paper should be scanned for records management before it’s destroyed.

And maybe some of it can be scanned in a way that gets you closer to the digital workplace you’re dreaming about, that reduces your staff’s time to search for files, and that reduces errors. A digital solution can improve your workflow and help you manage data and organize documents securely, efficiently, and collaboratively.

You know that “keep it forever” isn’t really a strategy.

Document storage made simple

You might not end up with a completely paperless office, but you can significantly reduce the physical paper taking up so much space, and you can indeed work more efficiently. You might be able to implement solutions yourself, or you might want a professional imaging company to offer suggestions and do the heavy lifting.

Either way, if you’re here, then you’re on the right track.


How going paperless–or close to it–can improve your organization.

box storage costs

You know you need to get rid of all those files in box storage. In doing so, you might even discover a solution that moves you into a modern office environment. Consider these benefits (and share them with key decision makers).

Save money (and make more!)

How much money do you spend on box storage? Does it cost even more every time you need to retrieve files from that site?

How about the costs of all the paper you use onsite: printing, mailing, shredding, recycling—not to mention the space it takes up.

Instead, you could be using and storing much less paper, and therefore spending much less money. The files you need could be accessible in an instant—and for free. And both the money and space you save by reducing paper can be repurposed for revenue-generating activities.

Get organized

You might not even know what’s in all those boxes or how to find the files you’re looking for. Some are organized by year, others by a client’s last name. If the employee with all the institutional knowledge retires, the rest of you won’t know your idiosyncratic system.

Whether you go through your files yourself or have professionals do it, you can reduce, organize, and manage your documents better so that you can more easily find and use the ones you need.

Increase efficiency

Once your files are organized, and especially if they are scanned and easy to search, you will save the time your staff spends filing, finding, and mailing documents. If they are stored off-site, you’ll eliminate the time you spend waiting for files you need.

You’ll also eliminate manual tasks such as data entry and document routing. Instead, your staff will be more productive, spending time serving your clients and moving your business forward.

Increase collaboration

Converting your paper files using document management software can transform the way your office operates. Digital files allow for easy searching, sharing, and data management across an organization. Multiple staff members can access and work on a document. It’s an approach that breaks down office silos, creates transparency, and simplifies workflow.

Get secure

Boxes taking up office space are vulnerable to both physical damage and confidentiality risks. At the very least, you need secure box storage to keep them safe. Even better, you can rid yourself of documents you don’t need for business or legal concerns.

Many businesses hold on to way more information than they need. You can learn which records to retain, whether physically or digitally, for regulatory obligations, legal concerns, and best practices. And you can create a system to dispose of them at the proper time.

Why information governance is important

Depending on your industry, you may be legally required to store records for a specific amount of time. This may be where you want to bring in the professionals.

When you hire a professional imaging company, their team can help you create and maintain an information governance system in order to:

  • Comply with regulatory obligations to retain specific types of information.
  • Preserve records legally required for pending or anticipated litigation and regulations.
  • Dispose of records you no longer need promptly and legally.
  • Protect confidential or personally identifiable information from physical breaches or digital breaches such as hacking.
  • Simplify your files by getting rid of information you don’t need for business or legal purposes.
  • Give yourself a competitive advantage by being able to find relevant information quickly.
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From box storage to scanning to data acquisition

scanning business papers

Now that you’re convinced you need to get a handle on your boxes and files, you’ll want to understand your options. What will you do with all that paper? Your choices range from box storage to straightforward scanning to scanning plus data acquisition—the ability to use and manage the information in the document.

Box storage

When is box storage appropriate? Although you want to be careful not to keep it all in boxes forever, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of box storage. Storing your physical files off-site is the right solution when your documents:

  • Are not business critical
  • Are not regularly accessed
  • Have a defined retention policy
  • Need to be kept confidential
  • Need to be environmentally protected
  • Take up valuable, potentially revenue-producing space

Digital: Scanning

When is scanning more appropriate than storage? Secure scanning is the right solution when your documents:

  • Contain business-critical information
  • Are accessed regularly
  • Are shared across the organization
  • Support business processes
  • Are legally acceptable for required retention

Digital: Scanning plus data acquisition

When do you want to take your scanned documents to the next level by using document management software to capture the data in them and create a more digital workplace? Scanning plus data acquisition is the right solution when you want to:

  • Eliminate manual processes
  • Reduce errors
  • Validate data
  • Access and share information quickly
  • Allow multiple people to work on a document
  • Improve information governance
  • Automate workflow
  • Speed response time to customers
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Getting Started

A six-step process toward better data management

Now you know your options. You may already be leaning toward one solution or another, and you’re eager to get started. Here are some steps to begin the process.

  1. Acknowledge you have a paper problem (you’>re already there!) and be able to articulate it within your organization. Cite relevant stories or scenarios about your company’s work suffering or being inefficient: for example, you may need to save storage costs, need more space for revenue-generating activities, have a legal or management directive to be able to trace information, or want to be a forward-thinking organization that embraces technology.
  2. Audit your stuff. How many boxes or linear inches of files do you have? What types of files do you have? What size are they? How old are they? Would you want to scan them? If so, how do you want to be able to search them?
  3. Armed with this information, seek buy-in from appropriate managers for going paperless or reducing paper. Be able to show them the benefits to the business.
  4. Evaluate the people, time, and equipment necessary to go through your files and boxes, scan them, and organize them.
  5. Establish a program to review and refine your processes periodically.
  6. If you are unsure where or how to start, or you don't have the resources in-house, seek professional guidance. The time required and complexity involved make a strong case to outsource your document imaging needs.
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Questions to ask vendors

How to find the right company for your data management needs

If you’re considering outsourcing your office’s path to reduced paper, know what questions to ask potential vendors. For instance:

What kind of experience and expertise does the vendor have?

  • How long has the vendor been around?
  • Which other companies have used their services?
  • Is the vendor capable of scanning the kinds of materials I have?
  • Can the vendor recommend and implement a customized solution for my organization’s data management needs?
  • Can the vendor create a system that works with other software my company already uses?

What quality control measures does the vendor have?

  • How high quality are the images?
  • How well can it organize my files using naming conventions and other best practices?
  • Does the vendor make it easy to find and retrieve documents?
  • Is the vendor trustworthy?
  • Can it handle sensitive information?
  • Does it understand the importance of information governance?
  • Can it keep my physical files environmentally safe and secure?
  • Can it keep digital information protected from data breaches?

What’s the cost?

  • How much does it cost to go through, scan, and store our files?
  • How much does it cost to retrieve stored records?
  • How much does it cost for customized document management software?
  • What would my staff still be responsible for? What’s the effect on my daily operations?

Additional Resources

We're here to help solve your paper problems.

Print a copy of this guide to share with your team.

Now What?

Take the first step toward reducing your box storage fees

So now you know: you really don’t have to work this way. You don’t have to pay a fortune for off-site box storage for your office’s mountains of paper.

You have loads of good reasons to move toward a reduced-paper or paperless office. You have options that meet your current needs and options that could transform your office processes into a modern, digital workplace.

Take that first step. Be the person who moves your organization where it needs to be.  

IOS team walking down hallImaging Office Systems has been working with companies for over 40 years helping them convert documents, manage information, and develop better processes.

Our experience has taught us the importance of listening. We listen to you describe your business, your existing processes and where you want to go. Then we’ll show you how to get there. Our business isn’t just document conversion, content management or records storage—it’s information management.

The better you are at managing your information, the more confidently you’ll be able to move your company into the future. IOS helps you with information management so you can save time, improve efficiency, reduce risk.

If you’re ready to make a move to reducing paper, contact Imaging Office Systems. IOS’s well-known range of content service solutions produce results you’ll find in no other place at any price.

Contact us

Let us help you change the way you do business.

Call us at (800) 875-9545
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