Scan or store? How to choose the right option for your business

SFS scan vs store - document storage and scanningAs you can tell from our name, here at Scan Film or Store we offer both document scanning and document storage services (among other things). While choice is always a good thing, it does pose a potential dilemma to clients who aren’t sure which option is the right one for them.

We’re always happy to sit down with people and work out a plan that suits their particular business needs. But in the meantime, we’ve come up with this list of questions to get you thinking about the kinds of things that will help you decide which route to go down.

1) How often do you need to access your records?

This is the first and most important question you should be asking yourself. If you need information on a daily basis, having your records stored off site – even if it is just down the road – will be a nightmare. In fact, even storing them on site can be a waste of time if you or one of your team is spending half their working day in the archive room ferreting around in dusty boxes for whatever is needed. Far easier to have everything scanned so you can access it at the touch of a button.

2) How quickly do you need to be able to access your records?

If your answer to question one is “not very often”, off site storage could be the answer for you. However it may be that when you do need a document, you need to be able to get your hands on it really quickly. In that case, you either need to make sure your storage company is local and able to provide a rapid delivery service (which we do, in case you were wondering). Or you’re better off getting your documents scanned so you eliminate any wait time. This is especially important if your internal processes or quality systems require you to be able to produce certain documents within a specific time frame.

3) Will you be required to produce an original at any point?

There are some documents that are only valid in their original hard copy form. For example, in the aerospace industry, if a Certificate of Conformity were to be needed, only the original would do. In this case it is important that the documents are securely stored, ideally with the environmental controls and security checks that a professional storage company like Scan Film or Store can offer.

4) How long do you need to keep your records?

There are some archive documents – like financial records and pupil files – which you’re unlikely ever to use again but which you might be required by law to keep for a certain period of time. In that case you will need to store the originals, and a professional off site storage company almost certainly offers the best security for this kind of important document. If you also need frequent or very fast access to these documents, however, you might want to consider getting them scanned as well.

5) Do you prefer to send documents electronically or by post?

If you want – or need – to send your documents by post, you can either photocopy your hard copy originals or print out copies from electronic ones. So either scanning or storing would work. But if you’re going to be sending them electronically then it makes sense to have your documents stored electronically, rather than having to scan hard copies before they can be sent. In this case, scanning will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

6) Will your documents need to be destroyed at any point?

If you’re holding onto documents simply because you’re legally required to, you will most likely want to destroy them once you’re allowed to do so. Boxes of paper files are more easily destroyed, especially if you track boxes by date, which we do here at Scan Film or Store with our special barcoding system. Electronic data (ie scanned archives) can be harder to keep track of, which can make destruction that bit more complex, especially if you keep backups on different servers.

7) What’s your budget?

In the short term, scanning is more expensive than storage. So if cost is an issue, you might want to consider getting your documents stored. However, take the time to work out your longer term calculations. Because while scanning is a bigger initial outlay, it’s not ongoing in the same way as the monthly rental cost of off site storage. And don’t be fooled into thinking that your best bet is storing everything in your own premises. When you work out the cost of your rent or the maintenance of your own premises, you’d be surprised at how reasonable professional storage actually is.

If you’re still not quite sure whether you need to scan your documents, store them, or go for a combination of the two, give us a call. One of the team will be able to talk you through some more individual questions to help you figure out the perfect solution for your business or organisation.

7 fun things to do in an empty office

Scan Film or Store man on trampolineImagine, just for a moment, that you had a free office. As in empty rather than rent free. Like if you somehow managed to eliminate several dozen boxes of paper archives (you know, by getting them digitised, or having them stored off-site) and could actually see further than a  metre  into the archive room. Just think what you could do with all that space! We do a lot of driving to go and see our clients in person, and these are a few of the ideas we came up with while traversing the highways and byways of the South West.

1) Trial trampolining desks for your more energetic staff

Everyone scoffed at standing desks when they first went on sale, didn’t they? And now look at all the trendy kids with their, “Oh ya, it’s just so fantastic for the posture, don’t you know?” Some of them even have treadmills attached to make them into walking desks. Well, you’ll show them. They won’t be laughing when you’ve cornered the trampolining desk market and have the world’s fittest staff.

2) Start a mini petting zoo

There are studies out there from eminently sensible, scientifically qualified people who have proven that spending time with animals can lower stress levels. You’d need the right kind of animals, obviously. No one’s going to feel especially relaxed after half an hour enclosed in a former storage room with a silverback gorilla or a pack of wolves. But some nice ducklings and puppies and things would be fun.

3) Practice your wallpapering skills

Putting up wallpaper is one of those annoying and fiddly jobs you don’t have to do often. Which means it always starts badly and by the time you start getting good at it, you’re done. And then when it’s time to do it again in a few years, you’ve forgotten everything you learned. The answer? Daily practise. Get in there and make those bare walls beautiful!

4) Build the world’s largest collection of promotional stress balls

Everyone needs a hobby. It’s proven to be very relaxing (like being around animals – it might have been the same study). And there’s something just so satisfying about a stress ball. Like chewing gum for your hand. If you go to even a moderate number of conferences and exhibitions you’re bound to come across dozens of them, and they’re free too, so this won’t be an expensive hobby. That’s the definition of win-win, right there.

5) Make a Bat cave

You know you want one. Yes, you do. You do really. Ok, we want one, but we kind of have to dedicate our space to our clients’ documents, so it would be really great if you could make one and then invite us round. You can be Batman, we don’t mind being Robin. Or even Arthur. We’ve always thought he was the unsung hero of that franchise.

6) Have a team-building sleep over

Everyone can bring their sleeping bags and their PJs, and stay up late eating chocolate biscuits and telling ghost stories. It will be just like Scouts, when they go off to get all their outdoor survival type badges. Only with less trees and mud and, well, the actual outdoors. But still super fun.

7) Install a panic room

Not one of those impenetrable bunkers sealed with reinforced steel bars designed to keep assassins at bay. Just a room where people can go when they’re panicking. You know, because they’ve only just remembered that report is due tomorrow and they haven’t started it. Or they heard on the grapevine that Laura in accounts is after volunteers for the company karaoke night.

So there you have it – seven perfectly good ways to use an empty office. Can you think of any more? Tweet us your ideas at @scanfilmorstore or post a note on our Facebook page, and we’ll reshare the best ones.

And if you’re feeling blue because you don’t have any spare office and you’d like one, get in touch today to find out more about how we can help give you the space to make even your craziest dreams a reality.