What is Document Digitization? Why Is It Important?

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak
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Many document digitization projects have been already implemented to replace paper documents in practically every aspect and kind of business organization. The way records are kept in an organization is the foundation of any business infrastructure.

Document digitization is the process of transforming paper documents into a digital format using various tools and techniques that computer systems may use to automate processes or workflows. It is regarded as the most important phase on the route to becoming a digital enterprise.

Becoming a digital business or paperless office is no longer an option. If the COVID19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must be exceedingly agile in order to adapt to disruptive occurrences.

Document digitization enables people to locate information while sitting behind their workstations. For example, if a library in the United States has digitized its books and documents and made them publicly available, anyone, regardless of where they live, can read the available digital content.

Document digitization improves the efficiency of your organization’s operations and ensures that processes run smoothly. Digitized documents are easy to maintain, store, retrieve, and process. They reduce the costs, time, and effort required to manage physical records.

Digitizing paper documents means creating a digital version of them. This can be done by scanning the document and converting it into a PDF, or by using a document management system to create an electronic version of the document using OCR software or intelligent document processing systems.

Document digitization is the first and most important step in establishing a digital enterprise. The purpose is to create an electronic image of the document.

In this post, we will define document digitalization and explain why it is critical for all enterprises.

document digitisation or file digitization

What is Document Digitization?

Document digitization is the process of converting paper documents into a digital (i.e. computer-readable) format that computer systems may use to automate processes or workflows.

To acquire true insights from your data and information, it must be converted to digital format rather than residing on paper and maintained in a physical file cabinet.

Converting handwritten text to digital format or analog audio recordings to digital format are two examples of document digitization.

Digitizing files is the initial step in your digital transformation journey. It enables us to capture critical information and store it in a single repository for subsequent retrieval and processing. It is also a necessary first step for many AI projects.

Documents that have been digitized are easier to maintain, store, secure, share and dispose of when necessary.

Manual document digitization is a time-consuming process. It needs the use of humans. It is a method of protecting your most crucial papers, images, and documents. However, as technology advances, it is now entirely done by automation and the use of computer systems.

Digitizing files just for the sake of having a digital backup isn’t a real advantage. Organizations must extract the critical information from these paper documents and utilize it for retrieval, business decisions, and gaining insights into how they operate.

What are the 3 steps of digitization?

The 3 steps of the digitization process include converting paper documents to digital, capturing the information, and storing the digital files in a central repository or on the cloud. These steps should be executed in sequence and can be done in single or batch mode.

Let’s take a look into the details.

In businesses, the digitization of records begins with the scanning of paper documents. The scanning procedure can be carried out either manually or automatically. This procedure used to take a long time, especially if you started the document digitization initiative after several years of commercial operations. Several companies, however, have developed over time to assist in accelerating and perfecting this process.

The best way to digitize documents is determined by a number of criteria. For example, if you are a freshly formed organization, you would begin by manually scanning documents and then using OCRing techniques to make these digital documents searchable. If your company is already well-established, you must employ modern automation processes to achieve faster outcomes.

Check out the below article if you are looking to capture data automatically from your documents.

7 Best OCR Software of 2022 (Free and PAID) (theecmconsultant.com)

Solutions for document capture make a digital copy of the necessary paper documents. The generated digital files can then be saved electronically for additional processing and analysis.

Once the digital records are ready, they must be analyzed and the document processing step completed before we can actually unlock the power of information collected.

Analyzing a document refers to using various approaches to convert an image into text so that it may be searched digitally based on the information contained in that document.

Various approaches are used, including

  • Optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Intelligent character recognition (ICR)
  • Optical mark recognition (OMR) 
  • Optical barcode recognition (OBR) 

It is strongly advised to read the next three articles for an in-depth discussion of data capturing and document processing.

What Is Data Capture and Why It Is Important? (theecmconsultant.com)

What is Intelligent Document Processing? The Complete Guide (theecmconsultant.com)

What is Document Indexing? The Complete Guide (theecmconsultant.com)

Check to watch the video below to discover how the UK government is digitizing paper documents of their accomplishments via a clever technique.

How to Avoid Document Digitization Mistakes?

The top document digitization mistakes often organization face are:

1- Inadequate Employee Preparation

The success of digitization of records is heavily reliant on how well personnel is trained to collaborate with newly introduced technology.

Before you embark on the digital transformation road, you must guarantee that your personnel is properly taught and prepared to handle it.

This is important to the initiative’s success; whichever tools or technology you use, you must guarantee that your employees can use them.

It is a good option to outsource to another entity with extensive proven digitization experience, which will also assist your knowledge workers to gain experience more quickly.

2- Moving Too Fast

The digitization process is more like a marathon than a sprint. To limit the chance of failure, it is critical to devote sufficient time to each phase and to precisely organize your activities.

Begin by launching the digitization of records program in one of the smaller departments. This will allow you to analyze the output and tools utilized, as well as make modifications if necessary.

3- Failure to Obtain Employee Buy-In

Obviously, top-level support is required before embarking on the digitization path.

The error occurs when buy-in ends at the peak. The project is being pushed ahead by the business executives without the involvement of the rest of the company.

Front-line employees must be on the same page as senior management in order to carry out their vision. At the end of the day, they are the ones who will execute and gain from this program both personally and professionally.

4- Digitization Requires Only Technology

Adoption of technology is simply one aspect of document digitization. To be effective, people, processes, and technology are required.

The use of technology is simply one piece of the issue. It necessitates a shift in mentality on how you handle, store, protect, and make records available to other colleagues.

Why Do We Need To Digitize Documents?

In reality, files and documents are the fuel of every organization’s operational infrastructure. Businesses invest a lot of money to ensure the safety and security of their files and documents. Nonetheless, it is one of the most crucial, as well as one of the most prone to overuse and destruction, parts of the workplace.

Digitized documents are easier to manage, store, secure, and retrieve and don’t need too much physical space. They represent the foundation of any digital transformation initiative that an organization takes.

digitizing paper documents benefits

What is the purpose of digitizing the documents?

There are many document digitization benefits. One benefit is that it allows for easier access to documents. Another benefit is that digitizing files can help to preserve them for future generations. Additionally, digitizing records can help to save space and make it easier to share documents with others.

The most common purposes of digitizing documents are:

1- Save storage space

One of the most significant document digitalization benefits is the opportunity to save money on physical document storage.

Did you know that maintaining your documents on paper costs 80% more than keeping them on electronic counterparts?

Paper document storage necessitates the capacity to have storage rooms, maintenance, file cabinets, insurance, fire emergency plans, and so on, which may cost businesses a lot of money.

2- Increase productivity

Did you also know that 70% of employees in any firm squander an hour every day on average merely accessing the information!

When documents are digitized, they can be stored in a central repository and easily accessed by anyone with the correct permissions. This can save a lot of time when people need to find specific information.

3- Easy accessibility

No matter where your employees work, whether at home, on a business trip, on vacation, etc., having your digital documents available to them quickly enhances productivity and allows for greater business operations results.

4- Boost security

Among the benefits of document digitalization is the opportunity to improve document security, therefore protecting sensitive information and increasing brand confidence.

Paper documents may easily fall into the wrong hands, increasing the risk of a data breach. Granular security permissions for each employee may be specified using digital documents and effective implementation. This will keep unauthorized people from accessing your digital data.

Furthermore, there are numerous methods to improve your document security processes; for more information, see the page below.

Boost Your DOCUMENT SECURITY With These Tips (theecmconsultant.com)

5- Automate business processes

The ability to automate operations is one of the most essential document digitization benefits.

Digitizing documents and files is the first step in becoming a more digital enterprise. Following that, internal work procedures are often automated, and information or document approval cycles are routed to the appropriate channels.

In addition, digitizing paper documents can help speed up processes such as approvals and sign-offs, as well as make it easier to track progress.

Digitization vs Digitalization: What’s The Difference? (theecmconsultant.com)

6- Boost collaboration

Enhancing employee collaboration should be regarded as the one of top document digitization benefits.

Did you know that 55% of employees spend more than an hour replicating the work of others?

This is the result of a poor collaborative process. When you use a system to handle your digital documents, it is simple to collaborate on papers without undoing each other’s work.

7- Data recovery

Digital information is often followed by backup schedules that allow for the recovery of documents in the event of an emergency. This simply refers to restoring documents from earlier backups, which will bring you back to work quickly.

8- Integration with other systems

Other business line applications are often used by enterprises for a variety of objectives. With digital documents available in a centralized location, these documents might be shared by other applications for further processing and analysis.

9- Environmentally friendly

Consider how many trees are taken down each year to produce papers! That alone is a warning sign for our ecology.

Minimizing, if not completely removing, our reliance on paper documents will benefit our environment’s long-term viability.

10- Enhance compliance

The ability to enhance compliance and eliminate fines related to rules and regulations compliance is one of the most essential document digitization benefits.

Depending on their business, practically all significant corporations are required to follow certain rules and regulations.

Personal information should be preserved for a set period of time, and financial reports should also be monitored. Documents should not be discarded until they are completely safe.

When documents are digitized, automated processes for document destruction or archival can be developed.

11- More Informed Business Decisions

Documents must be digitized, evaluated, and processed before they can be used to their full potential.

Gaining insights into how your clients perceive a certain product quality or how your personnel perform is critical to your future success.

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