Setting up a digital mailroom: Top things to consider for information governance

January 04, 2021

A mailroom, while often overlooked, is a central part of the business ecosystem. It is the main entry for incoming documents, and digitizing mailroom operations is one of the first steps toward a company’s digital transformation. Digital mailrooms have also become especially crucial these days, as the impact of COVID-19 heightened the need for access to information while people worked remotely.

It is easy to get caught up in the technical requirements when setting up a digital mailroom. While the right equipment and the best workflows are critical to success, firm leaders also need to recognize how a digital mailroom, when properly executed, strengthens an information governance framework. Inversely, a mismanaged one can significantly erode a company’s information governance initiatives.

Consider these questions as you begin to transform your mailroom operations:

Do you have policies on physical and electronic documents?

An organization receives multiple types of data. An information governance framework should account for all of them and provide guidance on which physical documents need to be digitized and become the “official record” for document storage purposes. A digital mailroom can help manage and streamline this process, as it enables physical documents to be categorized, converted into electronic content, and routed to specific workflows.

What is your document retention schedule?

A document retention schedule is a policy that governs the various types of records an organization has, the purpose of those records, and how long an organization intends to keep them. It essentially keeps track of company information from creation to destruction.

As you set up your digital mailroom, you should keep in mind these decision points: After documents are digitized, how long should you keep the physical copies? Do you keep them for 30 days, or can they be disposed of immediately?

Policies should also be in place for vital records and wet signature documents.

Does your information governance framework incorporate access, security, and privacy?

The mailroom is part of an organization’s nerve center for data processing, and data processing hubs can be a minefield of privacy and security concerns. It’s crucial that before you digitize your mailroom operations, policies for access, security, and privacy are incorporated into your information governance framework. This ensures that every document that passes through the organization ends up in the correct place and is seen only by those who have authorized access.

With these policies, a digital mailroom can help improve an organization’s compliance with data protection regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA. It enables easy search and identification of personal data and provides a full audit trail for a document’s lifecycle.

Information governance is often seen in a negative light, because it’s become synonymous with restrictions. In reality, it empowers organizations to find the value in and purpose of the information they receive. It also increases process transparency and improves data management.

While it does come with a slew of challenges, no one can argue that information governance is good business practice. With a properly executed digital mailroom, information governance can only get better and stronger, because digitization simplifies, streamlines, and makes sense of the complex web of information that your organization processes.

Learn more about Williams Lea’s digital mailroom services. Our solutions are designed to meet increasingly complex requirements and can help you achieve information governance maturity.

You can also download The Future of Work, an in-depth report that looks at digitization, virtualization, and data, and the role they will play in the workplace of the future.

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