Most companies store the bulk of their data in their computer systems and then periodically print it all out and file it away—even though all of the data still exists in the computer system. Though an argument can be made that employees are accustomed to handling paper documents more readily than digital ones, and that computer systems are too unreliable to constitute the sole repository of information, these are objections that can be overridden with the proper degree of training and system changes. In Exhibit 10.4, shown later in the “Total Impact of Best Practices on the Filing Function” section, there are a number of other best practices listed that will make a computer system essentially “bombproof,” and therefore make it available for use during normal business hours with very few exceptions. Those best practices, which are described elsewhere in this chapter, are as follows:
Archive computer files
Avoid purging computer records
Extend use of the computer database
Improve computer system reliability
Use document imaging
Once all or most of these best practices have been put in place, it is time to implement the one described in this section—to eliminate any paper documents already stored in the computer system. This is a step that must be completed with extreme care, for the computer system must be thoroughly proven to be fully operational and virtually incapable of failure before the paper files are removed from the ...