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Early estimates have calculated $1.5m in damages, but that figure does not take into account the loss of documentation from irreplaceable paperwork blowing around offices and eventually onto the streets below.

As of now, windows are slowly being replaced and on Monday, several of the more than 1,000 daily workers were able to re-enter their offices. Many, however, continue to work from home while others are keeping business refuge in temporary offices around Indianapolis. The still scattered workforce may not have access to original office documentation that may have been in a filing cabinet or on a desk. Original contracts, invoices and handwritten notes are either still in the slowly re-opening offices, or may have been lost altogether in the storm. One way to avoid this costly situation or others like it is to implement a proper electronic document management system (EDMS) as part of your office emergency/disaster readiness plan.

EDMS is not new to the business environment, but gains attention when unforeseen calamities like the storms affect businesses. A well-researched and properly implemented EDMS converts paper documents in an office to an electronic version that can be kept safe and secure. No longer will a document be lost from storm damage or more common, human error such as misfiling or accidentally throwing away important documents.

EDMS works by scanning hardcopy documents into an office’s multifunction printer/photocopier. These documents are then stored as text-searchable PDF images on the company’s network. Once this is completed, hardcopy documents can be permanently stored offsite or even thrown away. The documents stored on the company’s network can be viewed by multiple viewers simultaneously and can be printed at will, thereby reducing paper costs through reduced printing and copying. Not only can an office receive the benefits of EDMS, but the environment also benefits.

Another advantage of EDMS is the immediate access to all files on a network for those who are security-cleared. The tedious task of thumbing through countless filing cabinets looking for a specific document (which may have been previously misfiled) is now replaced with instant access from a user’s desktop. Unsure of the name of the document you’re looking for? Simply type a search word or phrase into the EDMS software such as a client’s name, address or keywords that would have been typed on an original document, and the software will return all documentation containing that keyword or phrase.

The blessings of EDMS are nearly endless: reduced paper cost and in turn a cleaner environment; instantaneous access to documentation, freed up physical square footage in an office and the peace-of-mind that all files are secure. A business leader needs to ask a very important question of his or her business: What is our Disaster Recovery Plan? If we were to lose some or all of our paper files, what affect would that have on our business?

One EDMS solution is the Doculex Archive Studio. Doculex was founded in 1996 for the purpose of providing organizations with an affordable software solution to easily manage and retrieve business critical documents. When asked about the destruction of Hurrican Katrina, David Bailey, co-founder and CSO of Doculex stated “For those customers that planned ahead, Archive Studio was instrumental in digitizing and securely storing must-find, must-keep documents required to keep their business operational. Since documents can now be accessed with a secure connection to the internet, business recovery from remote locations was possible.”

Fortunately for business leaders in Indianapolis, there are multiple providers of EDMS technology. A decision on the type of EDMS needed for your business should be based on the reputation of the local provider, their history and the history of their EDMS expertise. Does their office equipment provider use an EDMS system? What are some of their successful applications of EDMS in the field? A quality provider should be able to lead your business down a path to a more secure business environment, provide your staff with the tools to make them more efficient and ultimately provide better service to your customers and clients.

Scott Drake is the Leasing & Marketing Coordinator for HPS Office Systems, one of Indiana’s largest independent document solutions providers. Founded in 1939, HPS is a proud dealer of Savin and Toshiba electronic document management systems (EDMS). For more information, visit www.hpsinc.com or E-mail Scot Drake at DrakeS@hpsinc.com.

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