Disaster-Proof Your Document Management System

As hurricane season in the U.S. comes to a close, we have seen widespread devastation well into the billions of dollars. Hurricane Florence alone has already caused an estimated $44 billion in damage. Even after the storm passed, residents of the Carolinas had to brace for massive flooding that will likely cause that figure to climb.

Businesses up and down the East Coast were also affected by the storm. With power outages and floods threatening their ability to stay up and running, there has been much activity keeping corporate operations above water.

Also at risk are the millions of paper documents that many companies keep stored on-site or with third-party warehouses. These documents present a huge risk when it comes to natural disasters, whether you are talking about hurricanes, floods, fires, or other catastrophes. Once those physical documents are gone, the information they contain is gone. Making copies to store off-site offers some protection; but if your off-site storage facility is nearby, then those copies are potentially at just as much at risk as the originals.

Digital document management combined with off-site backup and data recovery systems are the only the way to protect your data and documents and ensure business continuity.

Consider what happened to hospitals in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. According to this article published by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), millions of paper medical records were lost in the aftermath of the storm. After the waters receded, many health facility employees could not return to work, and many facilities closed.

However, facilities with electronic record storage were quickly able to access records once the power came back on. Those that relied on paper records had to sift through the wreckage in hazmat suits to reclaim even a fraction of their documents.

Data protection is paramount to ensuring business continuity when it comes to disaster planning, but some companies do a poor job of safeguarding their physical records. Even companies that are regularly backing up their electronic files often treat paper as an afterthought.

To effectively “hurricane-proof” documents, companies should take the following steps:

  • Scanning documents is a good first step, but true disaster preparedness requires more work. Electronic documents need to be properly tagged and filed, and there should be some thought given to having backup files at an alternate location. The servers in the on-site data center are just as vulnerable to storm damage as the paper documents you are scanning.
  • For companies in high-risk zones, off-site disaster recovery is critical. Business operations and digital documents (as well as other data and applications) should be replicated and stored as far away as is practical. The advent of cloud-based storage solutions means that it is much easier to back up data to servers that are hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Document management solutions can help make these backup activities automatic.
  • Be prepared. Identify what employees are responsible for making sure equipment, data, and employees are safe, and that those employees are properly trained for rapid response when there is a problem.
  • For companies that don’t have the resources or space to implement an enterprise-scale scanning operation, there are third-party services that can help scan existing documents and assist with deploying an ongoing document imaging operation. On-site scanning solutions will still provide the most timely creation of digital documents, however.

In an emergency, the last thing you want is for your employees to waste time moving boxes of documents to higher shelves or upper floors to keep them out of harm’s way. A digital document management solution that converts those documents into electronic files (and securely backs them up on a regular basis) can give you the peace of mind that your data is safe while allowing your staff to focus on their safety when disaster strikes.

Our team of project managers, engineers, and analysts can assist and support you through your document management and mailroom automation evaluation and implementation process from start to finish. Contact us today via phone (+1 856.727.1100) or online to learn more.

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