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What Is Document Digitization? 6 Benefits

Document Digitization allows organizations to break free from the dead weight of paper-based documentation and streamline their entire system.
Jennifer Gustavson
July 19, 2022
5 min

For years, more and more businesses have moved their data online in a process known as data digitization. They convert everything from contracts and legal documents to photos and handwritten notes into online formats that are easily stored, organized, accessed, and modified.

What is document digitization? 

Document digitization is defined as converting any physical data into a virtual format. It can be done manually or using software. This process has revolutionized how business is done, allowing companies as diverse as law firms and grocery chains to keep track of documents in a clear, secure, and collaborative way.

What are the benefits of document digitization?  

Digitization allows organizations to break free from the dead weight of paper-based documentation and streamline their entire system. It affects everything from how documents are created and stored to how they are accessed and engaged. Here are six ways that digital documentation can benefit your business.

1. Accessible across organizations

In an analog documentation system, important files are stuffed in filing cabinets under desks or in giant storage facilities that are difficult to access. Even if accessible, these systems are often organized in ad hoc ways. 

With document digitization, however, all these headaches disappear. Documents can be scanned and imported into a centralized database, which can be organized in a clear, intuitive way that makes them easy to access from anywhere in the world. With the proper documentation software, teams can easily search for the exact document or verbiage they're looking for, without having to sort through stacks of paper in a central location. 

2. Saves costs

Creating, notarizing, filing, storing, and securing paper documents takes a lot of energy, time, and work. All of which can add up to a lot of money. Digitizing your organization's documents might take some initial investment. In the end, though, you'll save on printing and paper outlays, storage fees, and secretarial and security costs. Digitizing data is more streamlined and efficient, saving you money in the long run.  

3. Increases security

Chances are, much of the data your organization stores is sensitive. You can't afford a document to end up in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, paper documentation exposes organizations to myriad forms of data breaches. If a company relies strictly on paper copies to conduct business, any data breach can spell disaster. Fortunately, document digitization allows your organization to centralize your data in one secure, digital location.

4. Protects against data corruption or loss

Paper documentation is susceptible to all kinds of damage. Old documents can fade, tear, or even turn to dust. Writing can become illegible. Paper files are always at risk of being lost or damaged due to negligence or anything from fire to flooding. Most SaaS companies that specialize in document digitization utilize cloud-based systems which have periodic backups ensuring that your documents are archived, up to date, password-protected, and stored in a secure location.   

5. Encourages collaboration

With documents centralized in an online, searchable, and digital location, more than one person can find, use, and modify them at a time. Instead of sitting unused in a storage facility or filing cabinet, the documents gain new life. Teams in different locations and across departments can harness the data they provide in their current work. This encourages people across the organization to access documents they need more frequently, and to share and collaborate on those documents as required.

6. Seamless integration with other organizational systems 

Digitization of documents is just one step toward creating processes that can transform how you preserve, store, access, and deploy the power of data in your organization. After digitizing your documents, you can create a system to integrate your documents into a database that can be easily organized and searched. Integrate the database with any other software you use to run your business and you'll have all of your data at your fingertips.

How to digitize documents 

There are as many items to digitize as there are types of organizations that need digitizing services. Whether you're a company working with archival materials that need high-resolution scanning, a business working with images or handwritten texts, or a law firm that needs to scan reams of court documents, digitization services are tailored to your specific needs. Here are just some of the options available for digitizing various documents. 

Multifunctional printers

Multifunctional printers work well if you need a manageable amount of scanning, but don't need exceptionally high quality scans.

Dedicated scanners

If you scan a routine amount of documents but need a higher-quality resolution to capture images, handwritten texts, watermarks, or other subtleties, you might consider buying a stand-alone scanner. These scanners produce crisp, in-depth digital images with minimum hassle and are great for medium-volume digital workflows.

Mobile scanning tools

As with everything in the modern era, when it comes to scanning, there's an app for that. If buying a dedicated scanner is too cumbersome for the job — or most of your scanning needs are ad hoc — consider purchasing a scanning app and turning your phone into a powerful digitization tool. The images these apps produce are surprisingly crisp, and the mobile nature makes digitizing quick, easy, and nimble.  

Optical character recognition

Have a handwritten document that you want to convert to a digital format? You can do that and more with optical character recognition, a software that allows you to scan image-based documents and turn them into searchable PDFs. This allows you to turn documents previously impossible to use as data sources into rich sources of information.

Document indexing

It's one thing to digitize your company's entire file system. It's another to be able to access and search those files. That's where document indexing comes in. Indexing software can label and link the digital documents into an organized system that allows your employees to find what they need quickly and intuitively. 

Document converting

This is the backbone of the whole digitization process. To digitize documents, you'll need to scan your documents into PDFs or convert them into documents that can live in the cloud. You can do this yourself using a printer, scanner, or app. Or you can outsource to a company that will scan your files in bulk.

Image scanning

This may be the most tried-and-true way of document digitization since the first digital image to be fed into a computer was in 1957 by a computer pioneer named Russell Kirsch. Image scanning has been around for a long time and has evolved to be used in different ways. Many high-resolution scanners and digitization companies also scan images, preserving them with the extra attention required by the medium.

Book scanning

Many companies need to scan books — or libraries of books — to safeguard against decay or to maintain historical record. Digitization companies can scan entire books and libraries and email them to you as a searchable PDF. That way, you can keep entire libraries in a compressed and accessible form.

Aperture card scanning 

If your company deals with old archival materials or records, you might need to digitize information contained on old-fashioned aperture cards. Digitization companies can retrieve, digitize, and send you the data from an aperture card so you can easily view and access it.

How to manage digitized documents 

Now that you've successfully digitized your workplace documents, you need a system to manage those documents, ensuring you can organize, access, modify, and store data in the best way that suits your business. Consider these five items as you create a document management system to organize your digitized documents. 

Select the right partners

If you have a backlog of items you want to digitize or anticipate having a regular flow of documents that you want to add to a digitized system, it's likely going to be easier to contract these services out than to do it in-house. But trusting someone with years' worth of data is no small matter. Ensure you're finding the right people for the job. Before taking on a partner, vet them to see if they're offering a solution that's right for your business.

Maybe you're a wealth management organization and have specific needs around client privacy. Or perhaps you're a law firm and need people who can handle sensitive materials with care. Make sure your partners have experience, articulate how their particular services match your needs, and get creative about challenges.  

Find the right cloud solution

Just as you need a tailored solution for your digitization needs, you need a similarly tailored solution for managing your digitized documents. Many companies out there offer cloud-based management systems. Again, it's key to determine your organization's most important data needs. Do you value an intuitive system that your employees can pick up easily? A powerful search function that will ensure easy retrieval? A collaborative interface? Come with a wish list and leave with your needs met. 

Automate your document management system

Even digitized data can easily become siloed and useless without proper inputs and indexing. That's why investing in automation software that syncs, indexes, and integrates data as it enters the system is critical. It keeps everything up-to-date and connected without any unnecessary labor.   

Secure your file storage

Digitization is critical for the daily use of files and data, but maintaining paper copies of certain documents is essential in some circumstances. To keep these paper documents secure, invest in storage options at a different site from your main workplace, and ensure that this facility is secure, climate-controlled, and fire-proof. This creates double-protection in case of a data breach or issues with your digitized files. 

Leverage an online notarization platform

To turn digitized documents into wrap-around digital experiences, consider employing a notarization software that allows online notarization. This allows your customers to conduct an entire transactional experience — from buying a car to setting up a virtual mailbox — in one seamless online journey. 

How can document digitization impact your business?

Document digitization can unleash the power of collaboration across your workforce, allowing employees to work together to tap into data that was formerly inaccessible. It can also help you offer your clients a completely digital experience, using the power of digitized documentation to allow for eSignatures, online notarization, and secure storage.

This is just the beginning of the promises that digitization offers to modern businesses and organizations. Document digitization is the first step businesses can take towards embracing digital transformation. 

Notarize can help you turn digitized documents into a digitized customer experience. With the Notarize platform, you and your customers can connect with a notary from their phone, tablet, or computer anytime, anywhere to sign and notarize digital documents. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how Notarize can help your business.

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Jennifer Gustavson

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