When we talk about business digitalization or digital transformation of businesses, in particular SMEs and public administration, one of the first topics to be addressed is undoubtedly dematerialization, which allows us to optimize processes and significantly reduce costs.
What Is Meant By Dematerialization?
Dematerialization consists of making any paper document usable in digital format. Depending on the specific needs of the reference sector and the customer, the record is dematerialized following specific technical rules. However, when we talk about digitization, we mean the process of creating a document (or a procedure) directly in digital format.
When a document can be used in digital format, it is called a digital document or computer document. Think of the various procedures that once had to be done offline, “by hand,” and which today are carried out via IT systems, such as the electronic invoicing system or digital bills. These activities can be applied to any type of document, including legal documents, certifications, payment receipts, invoices, sales, collections, etc.
How Does It Work?
The transformation of a paper document into an electronic copy can occur mainly in two ways:
- By scanning the existing paper document,
- creating all documents already in electronic format, usually using specific software.
What Are The Benefits Of Dematerializing Paper Documents?
Gradually abandoning paper documents brings many advantages, both to companies and their customers. Let’s see the most important ones:
- reduction in costs for printing, shipping documents, and toner disposal;
- saving time and resources to manage and find documents;
- simplified tracking;
- reduced environmental impact;
- possibility of archiving the same record in different folders and keeping it updated in each instance;
- faster and easier internal and external sharing;
- greater control over who can access which documents, resulting in reduced security and privacy risks;
- records are constantly updated, even in different copies;
- possibility of integrating documents with the management software;
- reduction of errors during compilation and archiving.
Dematerialization And Public Administration
One of the most common areas of application is undoubtedly public administration. The progressive dematerialization of documents during the administrative process has been strongly encouraged for several years now.
Digital Signature And Evidentiary Value
Especially in the administrative process, it is essential to ensure that digital documents have absolute legal value, i.e., that they have actually been compiled and sent by the declared person. For this, various IT authentication systems are used, such as digital signatures, a particular type of advanced electronic signature (FEA), and authentication via SPID or CIE.
Doubts And Uncertainties About Dematerialization
The dematerialization process is partially painless, and sometimes, there are disadvantages that, however, can be managed effectively. Below is a list of the uncertainties that are most often presented to us by our customers: So will I have to invest hours and hours of internal training to teach how to use the new system?
Probably yes, and you will probably encounter some resistance from your collaborators who have been used to “doing this way” for years and would not like to be forced to change their daily actions. But if you choose a serious and competent IT company, the process will be less traumatic than you think, and the solution will be designed and developed to adapt perfectly to your specific needs.
Are The Costs Of Dematerializing My Archives High?
As with any personalized IT service, there is no fixed price to refer to because each solution is created taking into account the specific needs of the project. The financial investment is still considerable, but you must always consider that traditional document management, which involves the use of documents in paper format, has costs that would be reduced or even eliminated; think, for example, of paper, toner, and printers no longer necessary, or of the human resources which today deal with document archiving and who, from tomorrow, you could use in more profitable activities.
Are The Documents Really Safe?
According to the GDPR, documents (paper or digital) must be stored securely, anonymously, and with an adequate level of data protection and compassionate data. While, on the one hand, a paper archive is subject to risks of physical deterioration (fires, water leaks, mold, humidity, etc.), a digital library, on the other hand, could become the target of cyber attacks, fraud, and unauthorized access. The solution is, therefore, to always rely on IT consultants or competent companies who know how to provide you with the appropriate tools to manage your digital documents safely and in compliance with current regulations.
Do I Risk Losing Documents?
One of the most recurring doubts is the fear of losing data. Thanks to automatic backup systems and redundant copies on separate servers, the risk of losing data is very minimal, especially if we think about traditional document management, in which a sheet is often lost because it is stored in the wrong place or because it has been lost track of. One of the advantages of a digital archive is the possibility of keeping track of each file and knowing exactly when it was modified or moved and by whom.