There is no question about the digital transformation of factories is changing the face of the industry, and a lot of companies are feeling the pressure to evolve into the factory of the future. It’s an exciting time that promises big gains in efficiency and productivity, but the prospect of moving to digital documents, tools, and processes remains daunting for many manufacturing companies. That’s why the best way to start might be, surprisingly, on paper through M&A advisory. To improve your records management process, start with your paper records.
Start with low-tech folders and progress
It may seem counter-intuitive to initiate a digital transformation by getting better at paper records, but this approach makes business sense. New digital systems and applications such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (AM), and the Internet of Things (IoT) have the potential to multiply the amount of data and records available to businesses today. manufacturers, which can complicate the management of records that already exist.
That’s why it’s essential to organize your less sophisticated records management systems first by tackling paper records first before reaching higher and higher levels of technological complexity.
During and after the shift to digital tools and processes, business leaders still need access to paper records and the important information those documents contain. Think about how your business would respond to a request for I-9 documents for an immigration audit, or how quickly you might produce documents for a lawsuit or customer inquiry.
Here are some ways to improve records management, starting with paper records, as you move towards a fully digitized manufacturing environment:
Digitize paper files and do it right: Paper documents take up a lot of shop floor and storage space, not to mention the time it demands of employees. A PwC study found that searching for documents wastes almost 20% of employees’ time and costs businesses an average of $122 per document. The solution is to digitize the documents but to do so in such a way that they can be consistently filed and indexed so that they can be found quickly. Retrieving and sharing digital documents not only saves costs but also improves information security.
Establish information governance policies and procedures: When creating a new system, consistency is key. Therefore, the digitization process is an excellent time to establish new information governance policies. These ensure that all data conforms to a set of metadata application and indexing standards, which will be the same for existing records and for new records that will be created by digital systems and tools. Many manufacturers turn to consultants to work with them to develop an information governance model that often incorporates a technology solution to automate an assignment of unique identities to documents.
Use records management software to increase efficiency while reducing cost and risk: Scanned documents can be stored most efficiently in a document management software solution, ensuring that information is contained in a centralized location that is easy for authorized employees to access and secure.
Documents can be scanned at rest and in transit so you can control whether scanned documents can be edited, printed, or downloaded. Today’s sophisticated document management software also offers rigorous password and two-factor authentication requirements to protect your most valuable and confidential information, as well as verifiable strings of ownership and access with the help of an M&A advisor.
There are a host of other reasons to focus on shoring up (or creating new) records management processes as you integrate more digital tools and technologies into your factory.
Whether it’s complying with increasingly complex regulations, reducing exposure to audit risk, meeting record retention and destruction requirements, or avoiding the loss of paper records due to natural or other disasters, now is the time to improve your records management, starting with paper records. While it may not sound as exciting as the latest AI application at the factory, the dividends it pays are just as valuable to your business in the long run.