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The Cost of Keeping Filing Cabinets Vs. Going Digital

What makes filing cabinets so expensive? Both physical and digital information storage systems have cost implications, but which option is best for your business?


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When analysing the cost of your filing cabinet or storage system and asking if it is more cost-effective or beneficial to switch to a digital information management solution, there are several considerations to take into account before making a final decision.

At Crown Records Management UKI, we have 11 purpose-built facilities that are equipped to securely store and manage documents, files, tapes and other forms of data. We also offer a range of digital solutions to support you in your digital transformation journey.

With 50 years of industry experience in the field of secured information management services, document scanning and imaging, digital transformation and secure destruction services – we can appreciate the benefits of both physical and digital document management.

Here I will be discussing what key factors I think any business should weigh up when deciding between using filing cabinets or a digital solution to manage your documents. The aim is to help you better understand the benefits of both systems along with the costs attributed to each solution.

Written by Antony Biondi

Antony is Head of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions at Crown Records Management with 15 years of experience in ECM.

What is the difference between using filing cabinets or going digital when managing documents?

Filing cabinets are storage units that can hold large amounts of files, and allow for documents, files and folders to be physically categorised. Filing cabinets can be stored onsite and can be stored using a third-party business like Crown Records Management. Using a third-party records management company allows for added benefits including saving on physical space, full categorisation, scanning facilities to easily access documents required, and increased security and scalability possibilities.

Digital document storage, on the other hand, relies on cloud-based systems that do not occupy any of your own physical space. Crown Records Management provides a full suite of digital information management services and solutions, ranging from data collection, classification and workflow automation to data preservation.

When deciding to use a physical or a cloud-based system it is important to consider your business requirements and how you need to access and use your documents at any given time.


What are the advantages of using filing cabinets?

Intuitive: if your organisation has always used filing cabinets, it’s no doubt your employees will understand the processes and procedures surrounding this style of document storage.

Security: keeping your documents stored in a physical space makes it impossible to be vulnerable to cyber threats or hacking attempts. If your organisation is concerned about data breaches, physical storage might be the best option for you.

Compliance: staying in line with compliance for physically stored documents might be easier, depending on your industry and associated contractual ties.


What are the disadvantages of using filing cabinets?

Search: clients might find that searching for a specific document or document clause is time-consuming when using a physical storage solution in-house. A lack of advanced search functions might make it challenging to retrieve specific information from documents. Storing documents in a physical space makes their accessibility limited to the people in that space physically, which can lead to longer communication and collaboration with offsite stakeholders.

Costs: depending on the size of the filing cabinets needed to manage your files, the physical space that is occupied in your office or that you pay for from a third-party organisation to store and manage your records could be costly. File cabinet costs will vary greatly depending on the size of your business and the information you need to store and any additional services required from a third party.

Damage: storing documents in filing cabinets means that they are susceptible to damage from accidents including floods, fire and theft, which could lead to a loss of critical records.


What are the advantages of going digital?

Cost and space: going digital will inevitably reduce costs linked to office space and storage equipment. Eliminating the need for physical storage space also minimises printing, photocopying and mailing expenses.

Collaboration: digital documents make it easier for employees to knowledge share and access the information they need securely, no matter where they are physically based. Using digital document storage means that multiple users can access and work on the same documents and information simultaneously.

Efficiency: searching for digital documents is quick and easy – it is generally simple to retrieve any document or clause by searching for a keyword. An easier retrieval process saves time and is cost-efficient as it improves productivity within an organisation.


What are the disadvantages of going digital?

Cybersecurity: storing your data and information using digital systems will make you vulnerable to cyber threats and data breaches, however, robust security measures are here to help eradicate this type of risk.

Adaptation period: moving into a digital document management system will require an initial investment in software, hardware and employee training. The length of the adaptation period will depend on each business and its ability to manage new tools and processes.

Compatibility: the digital sphere is constantly evolving, and the compatibility of file formats in the future is something that all organisations should mitigate and do their best to stay on top of – migrating away from old formats and software when necessary.


The cost of document management

When deciding on whether to use filing cabinets or a digital document management system, take time to define what your storage requirements and business needs are. If you need to have fast and easy access to your documentation from any location at the drop of a hat, a digital document management solution might be best for you. If the possibility of a cyber attack or data breach is a risk that you can’t afford to take, a physical filing cabinet system might be the best option for your business.

Still undecided on which option is best for you? Why not contact Antony Biondi, our Head of ECM. Antony can help you in this decision-making process and advise you on how to manage documentation within your business.

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