For those in document-centric industries, records management is no new concept. As there is a growing shift away from legacy systems to digital solutions, there are new challenges and regulations to adhere to.
Here are 3 steps to help you create a strategy that will help you create a compliant archive and save you headaches down the line.
1. Make the text in your archived documents searchable, not static.
When switching to a digital document management system, paper documents may be scanned in order to be archived electronically. Unlike born-digital documents such as .docx or emails, scanned files are just pictures. This means that the text is not readable or searchable, so the files can’t be indexed, which is necessary to organize your archive.
An easy fix is using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to convert scanned text to digital text. A reliable OCR engine will guarantee that all your archived documents have searchable text that can be found by normal queries, replacing manual search with instant keyword search.
2. Ensure your documents can be opened years down the road by archiving files as PDF/A.
When the documents in your archive are vary by file type, it can cause several issues. For one, it will be necessary to have and maintain all the readers necessary to open each document type, which is both costly and inefficient. In addition, your files may not necessarily be preserved accurately. You would have no way of knowing until you attempt to open the file later on, when you may run into a distorted file or one that cannot be opened at all.
A solution is standardizing your files to PDF/A, a file format that is specifically meant for long-term archiving, as it will stay exactly the same for years to come. PDF/A is an ISO-compliant standard that all reputable PDF readers and editors must be able to open, now and well into the future.
3. Prevent viruses from entering your archive.
Much like paper documents need to be preserved properly to avoid damage from water, pests, or other environmental conditions; electronic files need care too – just of a different sort. One such threat to your digital archive is active content, which automatically updates files to keep this current. While it is great in certain situations, it can be a nightmare when it comes to archiving, as the very point is to preserve documents unchangingly, and active content is not always easy to detect.
Utilizing PDF/A is again a great solution for this issue. PDF/A eliminates active hyperlinks that could be harmful viruses, helping to protect your content and systems so they can be preserved safely for the long-term.