Quality is not a constant, not in hard-copy documentation and not digital documentation. Is it an overlooked issue to maintain the quality of company's documentation and records? What are the risks and opportunities?
Years ago companies were quick to respond and comply with the digital age and transform their all documentation and data to digital versions. However, today these scanned or born-digital documents are aging causing difficulties with readability and searchability.
When the text in a scanned document is of low quality, askew or in any way difficult to read correctly, the quality can in many cases get significantly improved while making the document searchable in the same process. A born-digital document can be in a format that is aging or is of great importance to the business that lifting the quality can improve its readability and hence maintain usability.
A Case Study
In the early 00's a production company scanned all of their reports, studies, tenders, contracts, etc. while there also existed thousand of files and born-digital files on a share drive and various databases.
What was not electronic was scanned manually and saved as a PDF or a TIF file. Born-digital files from before the project were older files in various formats.
Was everything tagged and retained in an Enterprise Content System? No. Some information was in one department explicit database. Some were in another – and some were in an office in another country. Some were on a shared drive, and some were various places in multiple copies (see duplicates). Does this have anything to do with the quality? No, it is mere to state that documents that are not Records and do not need Records Managements regulations can still be an enormous asset for a company and is hence up to the company to evaluate its maintenance. It can also be a great cost if it retained somewhat controlled.
Studies and reports that have been done years ago at considerable economic cost should not be neglected as to what it can be used for today or in the future. Some data and documentation, however historical, will never decrease in value – this is where it is necessary to work with the people in the given departments.
From a Record Management point of view quality improvement might be a necessity for records of low quality with years left of their retention scheme. Crooked or skewed scans, poor resolution, missing information can cause issue in future use.
From a Data and Document Management point of view quality improvement might be a necessity for historical or raw data, and legal or contractual documentation e.g. with signatures.
The technology and technique are simple and rather familiar; the individual file is treated with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) hereafter the document direction, and other issues are adjusted, and a PDF file is generated with the content. The recognised text will then appear significantly clearer and be searchable.
This requires that the text in the document be recognised correctly. The newest technology within OCR engines with sufficient quality is ensuring a high success rate for these projects.
It is a simple project, however very distinct in its necessity for different business and more specifically their departments.
Not to forget
Improving documents also enables the users to extract information and data with ease due to the OCR and Search options generated in the process.
PS: By making old files searchable, they can obviously be searched, but more specifically they can be searched for containing Personally Identifiable Information.