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In the past, law enforcement and corrections agencies relied on paper records to support their operations. But now, new technologies are making it easier to move to digital methodologies, but you may be skeptical of how digitization will fit within your budget.

You’d have good reason to be wary of the costs of digital records management. Fortunately, cost-efficient document management software is available. Still, you may be worried about making a large-scale transition to your document and records management plans. Consider these three key costs of paper-based records management and you may be ready to change your mind:

1. Work hours
How many overtime hours do you pay out because an officer needs a record and ends up spending hours mulling through file cabinets trying to find it? The cost of overtime can be prohibitive on its own, but you also have highly trained officers spending their days poring through folders and binders to compound the problem.

This problem can arise even with a dedicated clerical team as officers sometimes need records so urgently that they need to go digging themselves when a document management specialist is unavailable.

2. Facility space
In extreme cases, offices might need to renovate because the weight of paper records caused floors to sag and walls to buckle. Even if you don’t have that problem, you are using expensive, valuable real estate space so that paper can sit around in file cabinets. You need to maximize the value of your fiscal assets, and going digital lets you make the most of your building space.

3. Printing, scanning and mailing
Imagine you need to get 100 officers to sign off on a new policy measure that comes in a 10-page packet. That’s 1,000 pieces of paper, ink, toner, staples, folders, etc. All of those resources add up over the course of a year, especially as regulatory policies change, new officers come on board or you have to perform an internal audit. Furthermore, you must distribute all of this paperwork, which often involves mailing expenses or forcing workers to print, scan and email files that have been sent electronically. Keep in mind that this is just for ONE update and those 1,000 pieces of paper we just talked about goes up exponentially as more updates are added.

Go digital
An end-to-end digital document management workflow will enable all of your employees to interact with records from a central online portal. Web-based applications save you from buying infrastructure. Making document management systems available for a subscription fee ensures that going digital is cost effective on its own, but particularly valuable when you consider how expensive it is to stay with paper.