Converting from Paper-Based to Electronic Record Keeping

Currently, around 75% of manufacturers still rely on manual data collection opposed to electronic record keeping. While it may seem cheaper to manually use paper processes, it is not efficient and leaves room for error. When data collection is not done properly, records can be lost or misplaced, making it difficult to retrieve information.  Ultimately this may result in costly delays, lost business opportunities, and frustrated employees.

To ensure safety for consumers, manufacturers must properly manage documents and records.  Monitoring traceability and recalls, providing corrective and preventive action, and handling audit requirements, can be done successfully through electronic record keeping.

However, whenever a business changes processes, the shift can feel overwhelming to staff and management alike.  It’s best to develop a plan and take it one step at a time. Here are the four steps necessary to convert paper-based processes to electronic record keeping.

1. Standardise Naming Conventions

This step is first and foremost. A standardised naming convention creates a set of official standards for file naming and storage policies within the business. To accomplish the change, your team will need to work through the various naming conventions and specifications. They will almost certainly exist in the company, and filter them down to the bare minimum. This is incredibly important as records can then be stored logically, retrieved easily, or browsed efficiently.  Saving time, minimising frustration and maximising productivity.

  • Keep file names short, but meaningful.
  • Avoid unnecessary repetition and redundancy in file names and file paths.
  • Use capital letters between words, not spaces or underscores.

2. Select the Deployment Method

If it’s necessary to get up and running quickly with minimal internal IT structure, then a cloud solution may be in order. But if there’s already a robust and well-maintained infrastructure in place, then an on-premises solution could be preferable.

Also consider ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Will someone be available to maintain upgrades and licensing or would it be beneficial for the software provider to handle that in the cloud? Cost is also a concern. Cloud solutions incur a recurring expense and on-premises deployments often require updated technical infrastructure. But, if you carefully calculate all software expenses, not just those affiliated with deployment, you’ll have a better understanding of which deployment option is right for your business.

3. Digitising Existing Records

Converting the existing paper forms to electronic format can be perceived as a daunting task.  Working closely with the software provider’s partners can greatly reduce the effort. Relying on their experience to efficiently implement a best-practice solution will provide your best chance for ultimate success.

4. Instil Change Management

Finally, the last hurdle will be to make sure everyone is using the software properly and taking full advantage of its functionality. Never assume that because there is a change, everyone will know how to adjust. Take time to ensure that every employee knows the proper standards to make this a seamless effort. Your software provider should have trained key members of staff on the product, which then needs to be followed up with other users. Creating a culture of quality and instilling proper change management initiatives will smooth the way to full usage and benefit.

There are only a few steps needed to convert from paper-based to electronic record keeping.  Is still recommended however, that manufactures start small and then expand.  This agile approach allows users to gradually become more comfortable with the software system.  User will hopefully the see a change in the way they think about automated data collection.

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