If you are like most bail bondsmen, paper is an important part of your day. Keeping track of bail applications, indemnity agreements, receipts and more is key to getting paid and staying in compliance with state and Federal regulations.
Document management, or document imaging, is the practice of digitizing, indexing and archiving both paper and electronic documents for easy storage and retrieval. Bail bondsmen across the nation are turning to this technology to keep track of documents they are used to storing in paper files and folders.
Is this something that would work in your agency? Let’s look at five reasons why you should consider document management.
1. You can save money. With a document management system, you can reduce the amount of paper you buy and virtually eliminate postage, photocopies, fax machines, couriers and off-site storage. You can also… decrease your paper consumption costs because you can directly e-mail or fax documents to other agencies instead of printing and mailing cumbersome paper files. Using this tool, you and your employees will quickly become more efficient and productive – giving them more time to focus on other tasks – which will save, if not make you, money.
2. You can save time. With document management, you can have instant access to files. Scan documents once and never print them again. No filing or searching for folders. View documents without leaving your desk. While you are out in the field, you can easily access original files through any web-based document management system. At the airport or in your home office at 3 a.m., you can pull up the files you need using index or keyword searches.
One bail bond company will track clients in their document management system using indexes like:
- Client Name
- Power Number
- Bond Number
- Bond Execution Date
- Bond Discharge Date
Being able to search documents using any combination of those index values plus keyword searching makes it virtually impossible to lose a file.
And, if you have multiple offices, you won’t need multiple copies of documents. Storing them in a central location will let employees retrieve them from anywhere – even simultaneously. By placing e-mail correspondence in the same electronic filing cabinet as photos, notes and other documents, it will be faster and easier for your employees to look at client information. No more putting people on hold. Most document management systems will work with your current contact management software, so you won’t need to store files in both places. If you change contact management providers, your electronic files will remain intact and available.
3. You can free up space in your office (or off-site) by eliminating old files and filing cabinets. Electronic files are legally accepted as the original. Shred cumbersome paper files, save space and turn filing cabinet areas into productive work areas. “I was out of space until I started using document management,” explained Jim Longstreth, owner of Your Neighborhood Realty, of St. Petersburg, Florida. “I was able to get rid of the client files I had in my son’s closet.”
4. You can create a disaster-recovery plan. Meaning natural disaster and man-made disaster – like a lawsuit. Floods, fire, hurricanes, earthquakes, vandalism and theft place paper files in jeopardy each day. With a document management system, you can rest assured that your company is still in business when disaster strikes. The more you scan, the less you have to lose! Most document management systems will help you meet Federal privacy and security regulation. As a bonus, you’ll meet industry and city, state and Federal rules and regulations regarding record keeping and retention.
5. You can increase compliance. In Florida, for example, each licensed agent must maintain records of bail bonds in his or her office that were executed or countersigned by him or her. The agent must keep this information for three years after the liability of the surety has been terminated. “Though we are only required to keep our documents for three years by law, we want to be able to store them indefinitely in case we need to refer to them in the future,” explained Jeremy Swan of Moncrief Bail Bonds in Orlando, Florida.
A bail bond company’s records are open to examination, inspection, and photographic reproduction by the regulating authority and at any time, the department may require the agent to furnish to it, in such manner or form as it requires, any information concerning the bail bond business of that agent. Web-based document management systems allow the bail bondsman to grant temporary access to auditors or authorities to review records stored online – making everyone’s job easier in the long run.
Bail bond companies everywhere will be surprised at how affordable and easy document management systems can be. “Not only are document management systems a great way for businesses to organize their paper and electronic files, but they are also great at eliminating unnecessary expenses – like postage, couriers and off-site storage,” explained Leslie Haywood, CEO of eBridge Solutions in Tampa. “We are seeing businesses of every size in every industry making the switch.” Should your business be next?
Office Paperwork Statistics:
- 70% of “white-collar” worker time is spent processing paper documents
- 15% of all paper documents are misfiled or misplaced
- 30% of documents used daily contain obsolete information
- 40% of worker’s time is spent searching for misfiled, misplaced, or lost documents
- Paper grows at 25% per year in the typical organization, meaning that it will double in just over three years’ time!
- Paper-based processes are hard to validate for compliance to governmental regulation
- Most businesses do not have a backup for their paper-based documents, and would be out of business in the event of a natural or other disaster