Today, digitizing records is of the utmost importance. From keeping a record of historical data to organizing information to ensure compliance — it all helps offer structure and stability to your organization. In the information age, however, there are countless types of records to manage. How can you keep up with all these record formats?
One of the major benefits of digitizing your paper records is the ability to unlock information. Instead of digging through countless file cabinets to gain a better understanding of your customers, you have that data at your fingertips.
PDFs have been a popular choice for various types of documents in digital formats, but there are issues associated with this record format. When PDFs are stored, for example, it’s difficult to unlock the metadata. PDFs are compressed and locked, meaning that computers can’t scan the data to access information. Additionally, the PDF format doesn’t easily allow edits, making it less efficient to keep information up to date. So while your files may no longer be stored in a dusty file cabinet (and forgotten), certain digital file types create their own roadblocks to analyzing your information.
Additionally, when you’re using a software not widely used by peers, future collaboration could be challenging. Editing a PDF, for example, can require expensive software, so it may be best to share and save documents as .doc or .docx. In these formats, you have more opportunity for collaboration without an expensive price tag. If you’re worried about the file becoming changed improperly, Microsoft Word contains features that prevent or limit editing.
It’s also crucial that the file formats you choose have some longevity. A particular file format may seem like the best solution now, but keep checking in on the vendor and its development to be sure that your records are preserved. “A primary characteristic for an archival format is that the structure and nature of the format be openly documented and understandable by any reasonable software engineer in the imaging field,” said Tom Hogarty, Director of Product Management at Adobe.
Implementing a document management system (DMS) can help your company organize and access relevant files. An effective DMS provides document indexing, document search and customization controls, among other features. One way to ensure that metadata is preserved is to establish a process identifying metadata early in the workflow.
Creating a digital records solution is an essential step for successful organizations today, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Be sure to select record formats that suit your business needs now and in the future.