The New Hampshire Municipal Association has noted, “Municipalities have a lot of documents and records to keep track of. Every department, employee, board and official generates and receives hundreds (or thousands) of records per year. Although many of them do not need to be retained, those which do must be managed somehow.”
Adopting the Digital Solution
For many years, these municipal records were physical documents, such as town ledgers, plans, drawings, and maps. Some were on delicate, old paper or large format originals. Over time, these documents presented challenges in handling and preservation. The introduction of scanning technology promised to simplify storage, archiving, safety, and security. As many businesses were receptive to take advantage of this technology, municipalities have been slower to adapt, often due to limited budgets.
COVID-19 changed not only our personal and business lives, but also how city and town governments manage their documents. For example, cities-today.com noted, “Los Angeles’ Mayor, Eric Garcetti, issued an executive directive instructing all city departments to relaunch key operations remotely and ‘deliver back-to-basics services more efficiently’.” The directive required departments to develop a comprehensive plan to make contactless services the norm going forward.
Municipalities of all sizes need a solution that simplifies converting paper documents to digital while storing documents in a safe and secure environment. Managers and staff need secure, remote access to retrieve documents as called for. Deploying a fully digital solution not only reduces the burden and cost of storage, but also provides a more secure and better user experience for municipal staff and their constituents.
Some originals such as very old maps, blueprints and art renderings can be extremely delicate and require trained and specialized handling. The right kind of scanning equipment is also required to handle and keep these sensitive originals intact. Rather than risk permanent damage to originals, it’s better to have the scanning done by specialists trained in handling archival records.
Going All Digital
Nowadays, town/city managers and archivists have no choice but to participate in the digital transformation of municipal services. Paperless records management is a major part of it.
Here are three key steps to successfully digitize municipal documents and archival records.
- Fully Understand What Needs to Change
If you are drowning in paper and having difficulty providing services to your constituents, start by identifying what isn’t working well with your current system. Look at storage and retrieval of documents, your ability to meet state/federal document retention requirements, and how you need to manage document lifecycles. Then work up a plan to implement the changes.
- Embrace the Benefits of Going Fully Digital
Transforming your document management services to digital gives you these modern benefits:
- Remote access to all documents and associated processes
- Manual/automated technology to scan from physical to digital documents
- Cloud storage to eliminate file cabinets, boxes, and local computer storage
- Safety and security from fire, flood, and cyber attacks
- A long term solution for managing fragile and large format documents
- Easy and secure online document retrieval
- Work with Trained Specialists
Making the change from physical to digital documents and processes requires a plan that clearly identifies your requirements and objectives as well as the steps for implementing and operating your digital solution. A professional will ask the right questions and then guide you through the whole process of physical handling to scanning, to file access and ongoing document management.
NEdocs has over 30 years of experience working with municipalities to plan and implement physical and digital document management solutions. We understand that every city and town is unique in where they currently stand in digitally securing their municipal records and archives. We can help you at any and all stages of the transition.
For further information about how you can transform your municipal document services to going fully digital, contact us online or speak with one of our specialists at (603) 625-1171.