What Type of Backfile Conversion is Right for You?


Any organization that maintains records will at some point need to address backfile conversion. Last year we briefly explored the concept here. For this post, we’ll detail four approaches. Backfile conversion is the practice of scanning and replacing paper documents with digital copies of images. Often outsourced, these companies use high-speed scanning methods to convert documents into digital files.


Lately, we’ve seen an uptick in requests for backfile conversion. Organizations requesting such services tend to be in the public sector or highly regulated industries.

Complete Conversion

A total records conversion is the most thorough; however, it is not always the one organizations choose. Complete conversion is when you have all records/documents and film converted, so when you implement Laserfiche, your partner can do a mass import, and all your records are in your system. The documents are in TIFF format and are easily searchable. Plus, you’ve eliminated the time your team would have spent scanning so they can focus on other duties.

Limited Conversion


This type of conversion is when a specific set of documents are chosen to be converted. For instance, the client may want a particular date range of records scanned from 2015 to 2022; now, they decide not to scan before 2015. The older documents may be scanned in the future, but right now, the priority is the last five years.


Another approach focuses on a single type or types of documents or a single department’s records. Perhaps the organization wants to digitalize the invoicing process or all accounting paperwork. While this can be a good approach, more document conversions will follow as the organization learns to leverage Laserfiche at the enterprise level.


Day Forward Conversion


The day forward approach is prevalent and centers on all documents from now on. The organization may be readying to implement Laserfiche for records management and as new documents are created, there is a strategy to address these records. Some organizations set up their own in-house records center or send them out to a service bureau. This approach is so common because many organizations implement technology first and then make decisions about their older records.


On-Demand Conversion


An on-demand conversion is when there are no plans to digitize old records. Nonetheless, when a record or document is requested, the person who retrieves the record scans it at that time. This is not an approach that we recommend, but it is attractive to clients. The problem is that the staff member may have to go to offsite storage to find the document, which takes time and effort. Also, how likely is it that the record will be requested again? In other words, this method is too ad-hoc for public or essential business records, and there are better strategies available.


While approaches vary, the goal is the same, ensuring vital records are searchable. Please let me know if you would like to brainstorm a backfile approach. I can be reached at jdunn@cps247.com.


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