How to deal with 100 million pieces of paper that span five years

Imagine having 100 million pieces of paper stored in case files at local offices and warehouse throughout the state in which you operate and then getting a request for a specific document. Does the thought of finding that sound like a monumental task, even with some form of organization in place? It should.

A recent article by Susan Miller forĀ GCN, examined the Illinois Department of Human Services which, in 2010, had that exact problem. The agency is required to hold all documents for a minimum of five years, which had created quite the stack of boxes across the state and hurt caseworker productivity.

Agency CIO Doug Kasamis knew something needed to change and spearheaded a plan. He shifted three major forms – which make up 70 percent of the workload – to PDFs and had them get filled out electronically.

“Rather than trying to figure out a way to scan all that legacy paper, we’re basically getting rid of 20 percent of our problem every year over the next five years,” Kasamis said.

While Kasamis’ plan addresses the future nicely, it does not help with the five years worth of paper that is currently spread across the state of Illinois. What happens if a request is put in for a document that was filed four and a half years ago? It is still boxed up in one of several locations and will require time to find without an improved system in place. While “day-forward” imaging with archives left to expire is a common approach to tackling conversion, plans to index the legacy files can help manage requests during the transition time over the next five years.

This is where a business records management company can pay dividends. It can come in and help organize, catalog and store all necessary files. On top of that, with document control software and a round the clock support team, any paper that could be requested can easily be located and sent out, improving workflow.

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