Businesses were promised a ‘paperless office’ as far back as the late 1970s but we are still waiting for that utopia to materialise. In the meantime, many businesses are doing their part to reduce the amount of paper flying around the office. This includes communicating via email wherever possible and reducing the amount of printing done in the office.
However, many small businesses still receive some paperwork, such as invoices, in hard copy. When this happens, the business must either resign itself to processing and filing that document manually or, as is becoming more common, scanning the document into the organisation’s system.
Digitising documents in this way is a good start. It removes the literal burden of paper from the business and makes it much less likely that important paperwork will get lost. It lets the small business share that document with as many people as necessary without having to print and distribute hardcopies. And, importantly, it also lets the business apply workflows to certain documents, such as invoices.
Unfortunately, too many people in organisations revert to the convenient ‘scan to email’ functionality provided by their multifunction device. This approach eliminates the need to use a computer to send a scanned document to a recipient. Instead, the scanning device itself sends the document directly. This provides a fast, easy way to distribute printed information electronically but it also carries security risks and puts the company at risk of failing to comply with privacy legislation.
In the right scenario, such as with a non-sensitive document that doesn’t require action from the recipients other than reading it, scan to email provides convenience and speed, making it the right choice. However, it’s important to remember that the scan to email function doesn’t enable encryption, so the scanned document won’t be transmitted securely. If the document contains any business-specific details or information that could be considered private under Australian legislation, then using the scan to email function isn’t the right move.
Additionally, if the document needs to be actioned by the recipients, then using the scan to email function removes the sender’s ability to track whether they have received it and whether they have taken appropriate action.
Instead, it is more useful to scan documents to network folders, then email the documents from an email client. This provides greater security and the ability to encrypt the email’s contents. An even better approach is to implement workflows for specific types of documents. Workflows can be customised for particular tasks by a user or groups of users. This approach takes the complexity out of scanning and eliminates the extra step of emailing without compromising security.
For example, when an invoice is received, it may need to be approved by the person who incurred the expense, then signed off by the manager of that department. It then needs to be forwarded to the accounts payable department for payment, before being finalised and filed as ‘paid’. If that process is completed using a hard copy of the invoice, it is likely to take longer and include more opportunities for error.
There are five key benefits from using a workflow to distribute scanned material digitally:
- It meets digital security requirements by providing end-to-end encryption and PDF security via a password.
- You can set up custom workflows with one-click to scan to reduce errors and automate processes such as invoice scanning. This saves time and lets administrative staff focus on value-adding activities.
- You can also track and analyse what’s been scanned by user, departments or locations, and you can audit it for security leaks and, to understand overall usage trends.
- It’s easier to search and retrieve items that have been scanned, which saves time if you need to access them again.
- You can set a predefined workflow that sends the document to cloud or on-premise systems including file servers, Microsoft SharePoint and Dropbox for businesses.
By digitising documents and implementing predefined workflows via a multifunction device, small businesses can achieve significant efficiency gains, uniform file systems, and greater peace of mind for the security of their valuable information.
About the author
Adam O’Neill, Managing Director, Y Soft Australia
As Managing Director, Y Soft Australia, Adam is responsible for sales and operations for Y Soft in the Australia and New Zealand region. Adam originally joined Y Soft in 2013 through the acquisition of a competitor’s sales office and, after accomplishing his goals, left to be an independent consultant. Adam rejoined Y Soft in 2015 in the role of Managing Director.