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Records Management in the Digital Age

How to survive the shift from paper to digital


The records management landscape is changing. With the rise of digital content, and our increasing reliance on it, changes to the way we manage our records are inevitable. The question is how to manage these changes.

Change is not a bad thing as long as you have prepared for it. How smooth your transition from paper to digital goes is dependent on your understanding of the challenges involved and the strategy you use.

Your records management strategy has to take into account the big picture. The shift to digital records management will affect your costs, document accessibility, legal compliances, document storage and more.

The good news is this move to digital records management may actually lower your costs, improve operational efficiency, and result in a host of other business enhancing benefits.


While every business is unique, each will likely face the same records management challenges to a greater or lesser degree.


Legal Compliance

While there is no all-encompassing document management law, there are many individual laws and regulations, which apply. Many of these laws are general and some are industry specific.

Some general laws include the Companies Act, Income Tax Act, Financial Intelligence Centre Act, Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, Stamp Duties Act, and the Promotion of Access to Information Act. Industry specific acts tend to affect Mining, Health, Professional Services, and Financial Services to name a few.

Failure to comply with legislative requirements that apply to document management can land your business in hot water and lead to penalties that could effectively put you out of business.

An effective digital records management strategy should include a document management policy to address document compliance and safeguard your business.


Scattered Records

Depending on the size of your business, you will likely have documents scattered across various departments, computers, filing cabinets, and media types. How do you go about finding important documents? How much time is wasted looking for documents? How many documents have been lost?


Operational Inefficiency

Improving your workflow and making document accessibility more efficient should be a key consideration in your digital records management strategy. Today’s smart technology makes centralised storage easier and more cost-effective than ever before.

The transition to digital means reduced storage space requirements, digitised documents become easily accessible to authorised personnel from a central location while secure backups ensure your most valuable documents are safe should disaster ever strike.


Records Management Costs

Of course, the most obvious benefit of implementing a new digital records management strategy is the fact that your costs can be reduced. These reductions come in many forms:


  • You get to save money as your storage space needs are reduced
  • More efficient document access leads to improved staff production
  • Maintenance time on multiple storage systems is reduced
  • Easier legal compliance reduces or removes the risk of financial penalties
  • Partial or even total loss of your records in a disaster is eliminated


Taking Control of Records Management in a Digital Age


Here are some actions you can take to prepare yourself for the paper to digital shift:

1. Do a Document Audit.

Take some time to assess where your records management stands so you can make informed decisions. Make lists of the following:


  1. Where are your documents currently located? These include both paper and electronic documents.
  2. If these documents are spread throughout different departments and locations create a map of who uses them and in what man
  3. List the types of storage you are currently using, include filing cabinets, computer hard drive, DVD etc.
  4. What categories do your documents fall under and how are they tagged?


2. Create an Ideal Picture

If your company had the perfect document management system in place, what would it look like? Setting goals is a means to achieving a document solution that works for your business. Your goals might include:


  1. Reduce storage space
  2. Reduce paper usage
  3. Improve document retention compliance
  4. Eliminate lost documents and the time it wastes trying to find them


3. Access

Within your organisation, you will have many different documents that need to be accessed by different personnel. Your Finance Department will need access to financial records, your Sales Department will need access to customer data, and your IT Department will need access to systems data. Some departments may even need to access the same data.

Listing out the following will help create a smooth transition to digital records management:


  1. Make a list of document categories
  2. List out, which department/personnel need access to which categories
  3. Are these documents paper or electronic or both?
  4. Who is responsible for the documents?


Choosing a Partner

Whether you carry the above actions out in detail or more broadly you will reach the point where you need expert advice. Changing the way you manage your records from paper to digital is a complex affair with far reaching implementations. An expert partner such as Iron Mountain can assist you in selecting the right technologies, help you categorise your records and ensure legal compliance.


Why Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain has grown from strength to strength in the 15 years since we first opened our doors, and we are today the largest privately owned records management company in Africa.

Iron Mountain is the only records management company in Africa to make use of three key risk management technologies:


  1. VESDA – Very early warning Aspirating Smoke Detection (ASD)
  2. RFID – barcode tracking (Radio-Frequency-Identification)
  3. VAMSA – (Video Alarm Monitoring) security system)

We have state of the art facilities and knowledgeable management teams in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Mauritius, and Zambia. Iron Mountain’s products and services include:




Digital records management is the future. Preparing for and initiating a paper to digital shift now will not only improve operational efficiency but also save your business money.

Because our strength lies in our ability to deploy, customisable solutions that cover full document life cycles we can cater to the needs of businesses large and small. From records creation to final destruction in both hardcopy and electronic format, we ensure risk management, compliance and cost reduction.

So how can you get started? Contact Iron Mountain today.


Image Credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


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