Elevate the power of your work
Get a FREE consultation today!
A successful and sustainable digital transformation requires a strategic approach. From quick actions you can take today to initiatives that will lay the foundation for long-term growth, here are five steps to help your small business modernize its data and build new information management practices for the future.
While there will always be instances where using or storing paper is required for compliance, tax, and other business purposes, you should do your best to seek a balance between physical and digital files. Paper records slow down almost every aspect of business operations and breed a reliance on manual processes, many of which are repetitive, time-consuming, and prone to errors.
In today’s fast-paced, ever-advancing world, small businesses need to identify areas where digitization—the conversion of a physical file to a digital one—can help promote collaboration and reduce overhead. This means everyone on your team needs to focus on tasks that add value to your bottom line and help accelerate your digital transformation journey.
Digital transformation is the process of integrating digital technologies and strategies into all aspects of your business operations to improve efficiency, enhance customer experiences, and stay competitive. This process typically includes digitizing paper-based records, using cloud-based tools for data storage and collaboration, automating manual workflows, and using data analytics to make more informed business decisions.
Explore our five steps to digital transformation:
It’s no surprise that the majority of small businesses are adopting digital technologies to transform their existing processes. Digitization is helping these companies drive customer engagement, increase employee productivity, optimize resources, and build resiliency.
If you are ready to join this digital evolution, here’s how to get started:
At the outset of any type of digital transformation, you must have a complete understanding of all the records and information you possess, including business-critical records, duplicate files, and protected or sensitive client information. This is usually done through an audit and includes identifying not only what you have but what value it holds for your business.
Don’t be the company that keeps everything “just in case.” As you comb through file cabinets and storage boxes, remember that while keeping everything may seem like a good plan in the short term, it’s potentially damaging. Here’s why:
See how incorporating information lifecycle management (ILM) can benefit your small business and make this first step in the digital transformation process a sustainable one. From creation through disposition, ILM can help you establish retention schedules, stay compliant with industry regulations, and keep your paper from piling up.
After you’ve identified the contents of your records inventory and set your retention schedule, it’s now time to scan the files you decided to keep. When it comes to digitizing paper through scanning, you have options. Here are a few paper converting processes to consider:
Remember, even paper records that are vital to your business operations can be converted into digital formats. The originals can be stored or shredded, depending on your needs and obligations.
Choosing how to store your company’s digital records matters. The right-for-you digital storage will boost your company’s efficiency and agility, which is one of the primary purposes of digital transformation. For example, many digital transformation efforts exist to increase the business insights you can extract from your data. Storage that allows you to easily access and analyze your data is important if this is your goal.
Here are some options to consider for small business digital storage:
As you move your business records from physical to digital (through scanning), and into your digital storage of choice, you’ll want to consider the automation that will carry this and other related workflows into the future. Establishing automation across your information management, human resources, invoicing and accounts payable, and other business functions frees up employees to spend their time focusing on strategic, high-value activities instead of busy work that has less impact.
How often has month-end close been delayed because an item couldn’t be reconciled, or deals with vendors bogged down by unnecessary paperwork? By automating ongoing administrative tasks, you eliminate bottlenecks, optimize your digital efforts, and make your business faster, leaner, and more agile.
So, how important is a management strategy once my files are digital and automated?
The answer is: very important.
Although it’s often more efficient, cost-effective, and “hands-off” to manage digital data than paper, the reality is digitization still involves some level of management. The way you choose to handle your data has a profound impact on your company’s digital transformation success.
Without a solid information lifecycle management strategy in place, all of the work you’ve done to convert physical records to digital will be worthless.
For digital transformation to be a success, you must find the most efficient way to classify, manage, store, and analyze your information, just as you did with your paper records. There’s no one right way to master digitization because it all depends on the needs and budget of your small business. At the end of the day, analyzing and optimizing your newly converted data should fuel your digital transformation goals and prepare your small business for future growth.
Digital transformation doesn’t have to be overwhelming. At the Iron Mountain Small Business Basecamp, our experts have the resources to help you begin your journey to safer, more efficient, and future-proofed information management.