Transitioning from Paper Files to Electronic Files

  • Tammy McDougallTammy McDougall
    Member since Jun 2022


      We are looking @ moving to paperless/electronic Payroll files starting next year, and I’ve been tasked w/researching places that have transitioned or are transitioning to paperless.

      – How did you start the project?
      – Where did you go to research?
      – What security concerns/issues, if any, arose during & after the transition?
      – How long did the transition take – was it a major project w/many departments involved?
      – Did you scan any of the paper files to include in the electronic files?
      – How did you set up the electronic files – per person/per year, per year/per person?
      – Once the year was complete – how did the files transition to the next year?

      And any additional information you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you for any assistance you are able to provide.

      Yours truly,
      Tammy McDougall

      October 5, 2023 at 14:45
    • Denise BurnettDenise Burnett
      Member since Apr 2022

        We started working on this across our organization a few years ago. It was quite the undertaking, especially since we had boxes and boxes of stored documentation (based on our retention guidelines we have some lengthy requirements for keeping documents). The majority of the older documentation was actually shipped to an outside vendor to scan and organize electronically. We had to do some initial organizing of the physical documents, and process planning for how documents would be saved, organized, file naming, meta data, etc. Getting the bulk of it done elsewhere helped to shorten the time frame for getting it completed. It was expensive but we couldn’t spare the staff resources to take that on internally. The company we used also implemented a software program internally so going forward, we could easily and automatically scan and file any documentation using our printers. We are also navigating over to FileHold for our file management system. That has been a very thorough, time consuming process that has taken a couple years (some of that delay is thanks to limited resources we had during the pandemic). Staff participation has been key but some very clear standards and guidelines had to be set. Everyone processes and organizes information differently so it is important to have a standard for how all the documentation is to be organized, what meta data is required, file naming structure, checking out documents and file versioning. We’re still working on getting staff buy in. It is challenging to require everyone to learn a completely new system for accessing their files. With some practice and as comfort levels increase, I’m sure everyone will appreciate the benefits of the new system. The best advice is to do your research (figure out what your organization’s needs are and what system will be the best fit), get yourself organized (the files that need to be dealt with and planning how you want the system to function and what it will look like), and keep staff informed and educated (their buy in is key and if they feel they have been given the proper tools, it will make the process much easier for everyone). Good luck!

        October 6, 2023 at 09:29
        • Tammy McDougallTammy McDougall
          Member since Jun 2022

            Thank you very much for your comments – they will be VERY helpful. 🙂
            Did your entire organization go paperless or only your department?
            Currently we are only looking @ Payroll dept files going electronic – the rest of the organization is seeing how we do… 🙂
            Do you only use the software for the filing of the documents instead of using a designated server drive? We are looking @ using a designated server drive.
            Thanx again – greatly appreciated. 🙂

            October 6, 2023 at 12:48
            • Denise BurnettDenise Burnett
              Member since Apr 2022

                Our whole organization is transitioning to paperless. We are using FileHold to store and file documents, which currently has a designated server drive but we are in the process of moving to a cloud based format which will allow us for more flexibility. Our Payroll department is pretty much paperless. All documentation gets submitted electronically and is stored electronically. The only paper we deal with is during the processing of payroll; we print out documentation so it can be checked and approved by the manager. Hopefully with the new payroll system we hope to get in the next year or so, we can avoid this paper process as well.

                October 10, 2023 at 09:02
          • Lisa LocherLisa Locher
            Member since Sep 2022

              Hello Tammy,

              I really like electronic files – it really makes everything so much easier.

              In my opinion, setting a standard naming convention for documents and the files is absolutely critical to the success of the project. It’s easy to leaf through a paper file to find what you need quickly but it’s a whole other ball game when you have to open files to see if it is the document that you are looking for.

              October 11, 2023 at 17:12
              • Denise BurnettDenise Burnett
                Member since Apr 2022

                  I agree that naming convention is so important. It’s also helpful to have a system where you can set the metadata and have it searchable. It turns the system into a google search instead of a filing cabinet and having to know where exactly it is kept.

                  October 12, 2023 at 09:02
                • Tammy McDougallTammy McDougall
                  Member since Jun 2022

                    Thank you for the information, that is one of the details we are trying to work out – how to organize the files, so we can find things quickly. 🙂

                    October 12, 2023 at 15:05
                • Heather ShawHeather Shaw
                  Member since May 2022

                    We have a secure eDocs storage with our ERP and it is customized for school boards so you might have to check out systems that work for your industry. I can tell you that Adobe Acrobat is a must if you are going paperless. All of our payroll (timesheets, HR notifications, etc) are in PDFs and the backup goes into one pdf. We created folders that mimic the paper file system we had. I can review someone else’s backup and add my initials, checkmarks, etc while the payroll I am reviewing has notes and amendments added. Once the payroll is reviewed we ‘sign’ saying we have reviewed it and pass that document on to a hierarchy of reviewers for signatures.

                    Initially, we hired temp staff to scan all our employee files into the eDocs system. That took an entire year and some departments in our organization have still not gone completely paperless. What we didn’t have completed by 2020 we soon finalized after employees started working from home.

                    One tip: train your employees to use scanner apps if they are submitting documents to HR or payroll not pictures from their phone camera. There are several free scanner apps for smartphones and it is way easier to manage PDFs than images and they take less storage.

                    I realize this doesn’t answer all of your questions but I hope you can find some useful info in my response.

                    October 17, 2023 at 14:56
                  • Nicole Forbes PLPNicole Forbes PLP
                    Member since Sep 2022

                      My two cents:
                      1) If our payroll department handles administrative tasks related to Benefits (Health & Pension), I would recommend reaching out to your insurance company about going paperless.
                      2) Consider your Disaster Recovery (DR) plan when going paperless, think about how you will access these electronic files in the event of a cyber attack.
                      3) It is essentail to secure buy-in from all your team members\department and senior managerment for a successful transition.
                      4) Electrinoc filing format – i.e. per pay\per person\per year…………Fiscal year end or calendar year end
                      5) At two different employers, we had temporary staff just to scan existing paperwork

                      October 18, 2023 at 13:34