Paper Vs. Digital Records in an Electronic World

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What do you picture in your head when you hear of a business’s paper records?  Maybe an entire basement filled with columns of cabinets or shelves housing folders filled to the brim with papers? It is hard to imagine having to actually go through such a place to try and locate a single record, and even with a company that is meticulous in their record keeping, things are bound to get put out of place.  Any attempt to try and locate a record in a place that size, where the organization is mediocre at best would be a nightmare. For a small business, paper records might be ideal, since low amounts of interaction require much less record keeping than larger institutions that have much more client interaction.  As technology grows and develops there are much better solutions to record keeping and an important question is asked, “Are paper records becoming obsolete?”

Advantages of Digital Records

Most everyone nowadays has experience using computers and storing information on hard drives.  Computers allow users to store the information and pull up any files quickly.  If files are not found in the normal save area, a quick search can locate the missing files.  The ease of using digital records and the fact that so little physical space is required to house the records is a major benefit.  The ability to access, duplicate, and send records instantly is such a tremendous improvement over the use of paper records.  Digital records can be stored on site, and or off site and can be stored at multiple locations with minimal effort; this is usually not easy to do with paper records as duplication is a hassle and movement requires a great deal of effort.

Advantages of Paper Records

Paper records have very few advantages over digital records, but there are a few that can be key to keeping paper records from being completely obsolete.  Paper records are available to access at any time while digital records do require computer connections and sometimes an Internet connection (if off site).  Paper records are also easier to secure, and there is no way records can be compromised short of someone walking into a company and stealing them. This is important for companies in the medical billing and coding field who have important records to keep.  The first issue is not nearly as troublesome as it seems, since many people have constant access to computers and Internet with their personal phones; and a business that would require records should more than likely have both also.  Important digital records do run the risk of being lost by hard drive failure, but any competent company always keeps several back-ups in several different locations.  Hacking is another risk of digital records, but any large company will invest in state of the art security software.

Digital Records Are The Future

Any company that keeps records should be upgrading to digital records, as there is no reason to choose paper records over digital ones. The benefits completely outweigh the very few and miniscule issues that could potentially arise.  In this day and age computers are the key to business success and allowing them to harbor the most important documents a business has just makes sense.   Being able to securely house records without massive space being taken up, and without any problem accessing and duplicating is integral to a smart business operations.

Photo by Jared and Corin