How Digitization of Paper Documents Benefits Higher Education

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Memos. Invoices. Contracts. Presentations. Reports. Budgets. The backside of the office prankster. Remember when all of these things appeared on paper? And who could forget sifting through 50 menus and solicitations in the basket of faxes to find a signed agreement from a client?

We often refer to the traditional, paper-based office in the past tense, but many organizations are still up to their knees in paper even though tools exist to convert to a virtually paperless office. Scanners are capable of digitizing thousands of paper documents per day. Optical character recognition technology makes it possible to search for these documents and even edit data. Yet paper documents remain.

In addition to these paper documents, high volumes of data are being captured on web forms and through social media, email, instant messaging and other applications, but this data isn’t being sent to a backend database. The process of storing, organizing, managing and securing both structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources remains a daunting task, but a task that can deliver tremendous business value if handled correctly.

In higher education, a sophisticated document digitization strategy can benefit schools in a number of ways. Student applications, test scores, proof of residency, financial documents and other materials can be uploaded to a website. These documents can then be reviewed on demand and automatically integrated into student information systems, admissions software and customer relationship management systems.

Digitization enables colleges and universities to automate the routing of application materials, make faster admissions decisions, save physical storage space, minimize errors, and reduce labor costs. The slow process of snail mailing application materials to schools and having admissions personnel manually organize, evaluate and store physical documents is eliminated.

The cost savings created by effective document imaging should not be underestimated. According to research from Laserfiche, enterprises spend an average of $20 on labor to file a single document. One out of 20 documents is lost, creating additional costs of $120 to search for a misfiled document and about $250 to re-create a lost document. The cost to fill a typical four-drawer file cabinet is about $25,000, plus $2,000 per year to maintain it.

There are several factors to consider when planning a digitization strategy and creating paperless workflows. First, separate active files, or frequently accessed documents, from inactive files, or documents that are no longer retrieved or referenced on a regular basis. Prioritize the scanning of active files. Second, develop an efficient scanning process and emphasize quality control by removing staples, sorting documents, grouping documents together, and removing unnecessary pages such as cover sheets. Third, analyze unstructured data and develop a plan for organizing and digitizing it. Finally, implement storage infrastructure and software that make it simple to manage and share digital documents.

Axiom can help automate the indexing of paper documents, electronic data files and web forms to any imaging system used by a university. This paperless process can be completed in less than two minutes per document. Contact us to learn more about how digitization can reduce costs and improve the quality and speed of your school’s processes.