This week, in the second edition of this two-part blog series (see my part one here), we’re going to cover some key considerations ahead of planning a digital transformation project.

For many organizations, digital transformation can seem like a daunting prospect. Rather than taking a “big bang” approach and diving into digitization on a massive scale, however, you may want to consider beginning with a smaller pilot project instead. In our experience, approaching your project as a pilot is a best practice that increases the likelihood of long-term success with digital transformation initiatives.

Following are seven tips for planning and executing an effective digital transformation pilot project:

Identify the timeline for completion, budget, and scope of work

For your pilot project, clarify which set of documents you will digitize and which employees use them or plan to use them. Document this information, as well as a proposed schedule and budget, in a project overview or SOP. This document will be helpful as you gather organizational buy-in and support for the pilot project. Remember, this should be a “living” document that evolves as the project does.

Determine which parts of the process you will outsource

Your organization doesn’t need to handle every aspect of digitization internally. For example, some teams decide to scan their documents internally, but outsource the physical storage of documents. Whether you outsource or not, it’s essential to consider the documents’ secure chain of custody. This is relevant if you will be transporting documents for scanning, storage, or destruction. The staff handling documents – both your employees and partner resources – must be properly trained and screened. For your pilot project, clearly outline internal resources, your outsourcing plans and chain of custody processes.

Clarify the scanning requirements

Next you need to determine if the pilot project will include standard documents or specialized documents like highly detailed engineering drawings and specifications or oversized documents. For your pilot, you may decide to use an outside vendor for scanning rather than investing in custom, costly production or specialty scanning equipment. Before the pilot begins, clearly articulate both the end-user and destination system requirements related to image quality. As part of the pilot kick-off, conduct upfront testing to ensure that image quality expectations are met.

Don’t overlook document preparation

This stage of digitization tends to be time-consuming, costly, and it also requires considerable space. Prep work requires resources to remove staples, paperclips, and Post-It notes, and smooth out folds and wrinkles before documents can be scanned. They may also group and classify documents which can require a significant amount of training and knowledge to do so correctly. Manifest validation in conjunction with barcode tracking is an effective way to validate that each paper document has been successfully scanned and accounted for.

Consider document search and retrieval requirements

During the pilot planning stages, take time to consider user access for digital documents. In some cases, organizations want to restrict certain users from accessing sensitive documents or certain portions of documents. Another consideration is document retention. Capturing the right metadata for indexing each document is essential to support search, retrieval, and retention requirements.

Create a plan for document disposition

Once physical records have been digitized in a pilot, the organization must decide whether to securely store the physical documents or to destroy them. The disposition of documents needs to take regulatory requirements into account. After documents have been digitized and subjected to quality control reviews, it may be appropriate to destroy the physical paper versions.

Don’t forget to plan for digital document disposition

A digital document can be subject to the same laws and regulations as a physical document. Ensure your digitization process aligns with the long-term retention requirements. The document classification and metadata capture processes are critical to accomplishing this. Lastly, make sure you have a plan to be able to execute on disposition once the retention period is complete.

If your organization would like to begin a digital transformation pilot project, but are unsure of where to begin, feel free to contact us. Access has worked with numerous companies to scan, index, store, and dispose of documents. A well-designed pilot project is one of the best ways to demonstrate the value of digitization and build momentum for larger scale initiatives.

In the meantime, you can also learn more about Access’ solutions for facilitating digitization pilots by watching my on-demand webcast: Digital Transformation 2.0 | Making the Journey