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My enemy? “Lost documents” be thy name.

Posted on: July 30, 2013

This morning, one of my friends asked me a simple question.  What is your enemy (in business)?  After giving it some thought and discussion, I realized that my enemy is lost documents.

60% of companies that lose their important business documents in a disaster will shut down within 1 year.  Disasters are man-made and natural.  Common disasters that destroy paper files include fires, floods, hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes.  Less common, but still a risk are CBRN event.  A CBRN event is a disaster resulting from chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear.  This is not far-fetched to imagine.  A CBRN could be a train derailment that releases a cloud of chemicals and explodes.  It could be a flu epidemic that prevents employees from going to the office and accessing files.

Collapse at Local Record Storage Facility
Collapse at Local Record Storage Facility in 2012. Image courtesy of Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Think about your own company.  What would be the effect if you no longer had access to your customer files, vendor files, contracts, other financial records, employee records, board meeting minutes, and tax filings?  If the IRS requests an audit, and if you can’t provide the auditor with a copy of your documentation, you could be exposed to huge financial liability.

My defense against lost documents is scanning.  Depending on your situation, different scanning strategies apply.  Employees who work with a small amount of paper records every day would benefit from having a desktop scanner such as the Fujitsu ix500 (http://www.fujitsu.com/us/services/computing/peripherals/scanners/scansnap/scansnap-iX500.html).  Employees who scan even less should be encouraged to use a central scanner/copier/printer.  For organizations that are too busy to scan themselves, you should consider outsourcing your scanning to a company like mine.  All business that survive long enough will experience a document disaster.  Talk with me about a strategy that will work for your organization.