I have recently been getting some requirements specs together and in doing so, have found a near watertight set of arguments for getting agreement in principal for the storage of documentation electronically rather than in filing cabinets/archives (or possibly in addition to). Whether you just go for scanned images, attaching office files or full OCR's depends on the application and business needs. I have posted it in this forum, since it will almost certainly relate paper documentation to data in some sort of database backed business application (HR/Payroll, Finance, student management etc).
Ask the user where they get their information from, and then if they say they refer to paper documentation:
1. Is this information held electronically in <relevant computer system>
If they say "yes" then this leads to a follow up question:
"why do you need to keep the paper copy" (there may be legitimate reasons for maintaining two copies - eg auditors behind the times only accepting paper documentation; non computer integrated faxes needing to be kept etc). Remember that in addition to the space requirements for storing the document, paper is flammable and so will need to be stored safely and securely.
If they say no, then:
- Is it critical to your needs (they will almost certainly reply that it is);
- would it be problematic if you couldn't get to it relatively quickly in a business continuity/disaster recovery scenario? (the least level acceptable here is along the lines of "it isn't urgent but very useful to have"). If they say it isn't needed, then why keep it? think data protection regulations.
- if it is highly essential, then do they or other people photocopy the paper documentation and take copies to an offsite location on a frequent basis?
This is the clincher and if they are concerned enough, will almost certainly raise it with their managers.
When it comes to fleshing out the details there will be implications in terms of server/SAN storage and bandwidth, and possibly scanners to digitise and load the documents in but these can be sorted out further down the line.
If this is any use to anyone else, feel free to use it.