"It's time to reduce the storage of 'dead weight' paper, whilst handling valuable documents with care."

Some Documents Are More Valuable Than Others

For hundreds of years, paper documents were objects of significant value in themselves – either for their commercial or historical value such as contracts, acts, charters and deeds etc.; or for the rare knowledge or artistry they contained. As the production of paper documents became easier over time, the average typical value of any paper document has decreased to approximately zero. However, people’s habits are still somewhat informed by the past leading to a vague sense that any paper document must have some value, and as a result, organisations have held on to large numbers worthless documents alongside important documents of value.

The vague fears that have led many organisations to store practically every document in the past, are now reaping real negative consequences in terms of cost of storage and the problems of indexing and retrieval. It’s a simple fact that if you store rubbish along with your valuables, it will be hard to find your valuables when you need to – this same rule applies to document repositories.

It’s high time to put some thought into understanding the types of document that exist within the business. You need to consider both the documents coming in from the outside as well as those documents created internally by the business itself.

  • What is the value and purpose of the documents?
  • How long does the value persist?
  • Do you really need to store a given document type at all?
  • How quickly can you dispose of the document and its associated electronic versions?

A paper document is often just a store of information – and an electronic rendition of the document, such as a PDF/A document, is every bit as good in that sense, with the added benefits associated with electronic files. Unless you are legally required to or some specific custom compels you to keep the physical document, you should be planning to “scan and shred” most documents, or sometimes just shred if the document has little future value. The documents you choose not to shred, are by definition valuable and so need to be treated properly. You will still, most likely, want to scan these documents – as valuable documents are best stored in safe and secure physical archives and only recalled when absolutely necessary, rather than being pored over by time-pressured knowledge workers.

If the data contained in the paper documents is useful beyond the document itself, you might want to consider advanced document parsing and data extraction workflows to liberate the data automatically from the constraints of the document. A simple example of this is in Invoice Processing, where the extraction of data fields and invoice line items can be fed directly into accounting and ERP systems.

Paper River provides consultancy, solutions and technology to practically assist with all these issues.


Want to find out how we can help with your archiving and document processing problems? Contact us today!