Digital Archive

What Is a Digital Archive?

A digital archive is the product of digitally filing and preserving the paperwork or documents of a business, corporation, or organization for long-term digital access.

Digital archiving is one technological advancement that many businesses are eager to embrace. Gone are the days of file cabinets and heaps of manila folders stored in a dingy closet. The seamless and streamlined storage of years of paperwork provides business owners and employees with a quick alternative to leafing through yesteryear's tax records. Still, some may be hesitant to convert their information to a database, either because of ties to traditional methods or because of reservations about the effectiveness of the latest techniques. Learning about the advantages of digital archiving, as well as how to begin converting your files, can make the transition an easier one.

Why Is a Digital Archive Important?

Ease of Access and Accident Prevention

As businesses age, saving all of their past documents seems irrational. And yet, many are unaware of what can be destroyed and what should be preserved in case of an emergency or legal issue. Accidents or theft can mean the destruction of important records, and employees can waste valuable time rifling through years of paperwork to find one relevant piece of information. Digital archiving is the solution to all of these problems. Searchability and organized record keeping make it easier to find important information, and media uploaded to a digital database, such as the cloud, eliminates the risk of damage from natural forces like fire or water by mirroring your data and storing the copy in a separate location.

Long-Term Sustainability

Many bloggers, writers, and digital institutions wonder about the long-term accessibility of their work. Digital preservation has made strides in saving information for decades, even centuries. For example, issues of the New York Times from the mid-19th century are available online thanks to digital archiving. Keeping your business documents for hundreds of years may not be a serious concern for you at this point, but smart business owners look for ways to make information accessible for years in the future. Tax and legal paperwork, contracts, spreadsheets, and even more information can be coded and filed away for future needs within a sustainable database with a long-term outlook.

Environmentally Conscious

Common concerns over digitalization include the threat of increased carbon emissions and energy consumption, but newspapers, research institutions, and scientists are all making strides in their efforts to combat these effects. While it's true that the digitalization of printed media has its own environmental impact, the obvious benefits of the digital revolution are apparent. As logging and deforestation become more hot-button topics, alternative methods of documentation and archiving are being sought, both to reduce environmental impact and soothe the minds of consumers. Digital archiving allows businesses to store almost limitless amounts of information in a manner that is renewable and becoming even more sustainable.

 

How to Create a Digital Archive

Choose a Document Management System

Docuware's data management options are perfect for businesses of any size. Digitizing the processes that run a business, from accounting to archiving, reduces time spent on repetitive tasks and keeps your team focused on more important tasks such as customer interactions and project management. A good document management system, or DMS, has:

  • Scalabile storage options for your business, such as being cloud-based
  • Flexible search capabilities for streamlined access
  • The ability to automate the monotonous processes that drain energy and zeal from your employees, such as invoice processing
  • Versioning, which lets you access multiple versions of a document while retaining the original in case another version is accidentally altered or deleted

Begin Your Inventory

Uploading information whenever you stumble across it won't be conducive to an organized system. Taking an inventory of all of your files is going to require a great deal of patience, but it's a necessary undertaking that needs to be done in an organized manner. Start with one type of information, such as tax information, ownership records, or important business documents. Then look at employee contracts and resumes, including both past and present employees. If your business has numerous departments, upload information about each department one at a time, and teach your employees how to keep records on the new database.

While performing an inventory, you'll likely have to get rid of unnecessary files. However, this shouldn't be done with reckless abandon.

Identify Important Files and Documents

Earlier in this piece, we mentioned that some businesses don't know what to get rid of and what to keep. As a rule of thumb, tax information that's under seven years old should be kept in case of a problem with the IRS. Documents that pertain to employees, such as job applications, contracts, and payroll information should be kept indefinitely. Deeds, property records, stock information, agreements with shareholders, and proof of ownership should also be documented and stored indefinitely. Of course, data about loans and bank information should also be kept safe, but you don’t need to don't save everything. If it's not directly related to the operation of your business, you probably don't need to keep it around.

Digital archiving has more benefits than can possibly be listed at once. Employees have more time to devote to necessary tasks and waste less time on paperwork. Work spaces become more eco-friendly, the destruction of information needed to meet compliance requirements can be safely avoided, and the sustainability of digital records means that files are accessible for as long as they're needed.

The task of uploading your documents to a cloud-based server or an on-premises database doesn't need to be complicated. Taking an inventory, working with a good DMS, and identifying what's most important to keep can make the process seamless. With digital archiving, you can focus on growing your business and moving into the future.