- Considerations before digitisation
- Considerations during digitisation
- Considerations after digitisation
In some organisations back-capture digitisation may be undertaken in order to save space by destroying original paper records. In others, digitisation may be undertaken for other reasons, e.g. to increase access or to preserve original records, and the originals may be retained. See Why digitise? for more information.
In many business process digitisation programs, the organisation will destroy original paper records relatively quickly after digitisation (once any quality control checks or needs for re-digitisation have been undertaken or met).
Regardless of the outcome, however, it is still important to protect and manage original paper records before, during and after digitisation. Actions taken on them should be documented.
Your organisation should determine in the planning phase what the fate of the original paper records will be. If you intend to destroy them, you will need to check that the records are covered by an authorised retention and disposal authority and that they meet the conditions for destruction in General retention and disposal authority: original or source records that have been copied. If not, they cannot be destroyed after digitisation. See Disposal of original paper records after digitisation for more information.
If you intend to transfer the original paper records as State archives you will need to contact State Records to discuss what requirements need to be met. This option will also save you storage space.
Your decisions about whether to destroy the original paper records or not may determine how they are handled during digitisation.
Handling and transportation of original paper records
Original paper records need to be handled and transported before, during and after digitisation. Sometimes this will be undertaken by staff who are unfamiliar with your usual records handling procedures. Handling and transportation should be carried out in accordance with your organisation’s Records management policy, procedures and handling guidelines. Staff involved in a digitisation project should be trained where required. Specific procedures for handling and transportation may need to be built into digitisation procedures.
Preparation of original paper records
The original paper records need to be prepared for digitisation. Staff should be trained and provided with procedures so they can do this to a sufficient standard.
Procedures/training should cover:
- an assessment of whether the original paper records can sustain digitisation processes
- when digitisation is unnecessary (e.g. copies or ephemeral, short term records covered by Normal Administrative Practice where they need not be captured)
- how to distinguish between originals and photocopies
- the removal of bindings, staples, paper-clips etc. and straightening of any pages or folded corners- some mechanical manipulation of folds can cause further damage so if in doubt contact the conservation section at State Records
- how to batch similar records together (e.g. by size, colour, date order, document formats, orientation, single or double sided etc.)
- how to treat non-standard records e.g. maps and plans, illegible or fragile documents, documents with handwritten annotations etc.
- how to make linkages between records that are related e.g. post it notes on a page, a document enclosing an attachment
- how to make linkages between the original paper records and the digital images (e.g. using identification protocols, barcodes etc.)
- how to check and verify that all original paper records have been included in the digitisation process and that no data has been lost. 
Note: In back-scanning projects some records may require conservation treatment before digitisation takes place. For example, conservation may be required if records have been damaged from over-handling, records are to be transferred as State archives and have sustained damage or have poor quality repairs, or damage is obscuring information that needs to be captured during digitisation.
If original paper records are to be destroyed
In business process digitisation programs, ‘day boxes’ are often used. That is, when records are digitised they are placed in boxes, in the order they were received or sent, to await quality checking prior to destruction.
In back-capture digitisation projects where the original paper records are to be destroyed, the originals should also be placed in boxes to await quality checking prior to destruction. However, it is likely that they will be placed in boxes in the order in which they were batched for digitisation.
Note: It is a condition for destruction in General retention and disposal authority: original or source records that have been copied that the original paper records are kept for a pre-defined period of time after digitisation for quality control purposes after digitisation before they are destroyed. See Disposal of original paper records after digitisation for more information. Therefore, you will need to keep original paper records in a way that makes them easy to locate for re-digitisation if it is required.
Operators should be trained to know when original paper records are excluded from General retention and disposal authority: original or source records that have been copied so they do not place these in boxes awaiting destruction.
Note: Records that are not covered by an approved retention and disposal authority cannot be destroyed after digitisation. Therefore they too should not be placed in boxes awaiting destruction.
If original paper records are NOT to be destroyed
If the original paper records are not to be destroyed, day boxes should not be used. Records should be handled in accordance with your organisation’s Records management policy. Their integrity should be maintained at all times. This will usually involve reconstructing the original records to the way they were before digitisation.
Note: If the original paper records need to be retained as State archives, you can contact State Records for further advice about their repackaging and transfer.
As a general rule transfer should not occur until the project is finished. This will allow you to revert to your older system if there are major problems with the project. 
Security and access
It is recommended that an adequate level of security for original paper records be maintained at all times.
What constitutes ‘adequate’ security will be for your organisation to decide, based on its business. Practically this may involve physical protection measures such as:
- securing original paper records prior to digitisation
- not leaving scanners unattended while they are in operation
- not leaving original paper records around desks when desks are unattended
- taking boxed records to secure storage as soon as possible after scanning
- keeping boxes awaiting destruction in secure storage with controlled access for authorised personnel until they are destroyed
- maintaining appropriate levels of security for original paper records during quality checking
- ensuring boxes awaiting destruction are destroyed securely in accordance with your organisation’s records management policy and procedures – see Destruction of records for more information.
Responsibilities can be outlined in digitisation procedures.
Handling and transportation
During digitisation, records need to be handled and transported in accordance with procedures. Quality checks may determine whether this is happening.
The following table shows what you need to ensure for original paper records after they have been digitised.
|If the original paper records are...||You need to ensure that the original paper records...|
|To be destroyed…||
|To be retained by your organisation and used as evidence of business…||
|To be transferred to State Records as State archives…||
|Managing original paper records||Yes||No|
|Has the organisation determined whether it intends to destroy the original paper records after digitisation? If yes, see Disposing of original paper records for more information.|
|Is the handling and transportation of records carried out in accordance with the organisation’s records management policy, procedures and handling guidelines?|
|Do procedures address the management of original paper records before, during and after digitisation?|
|Have staff been trained in managing original paper records before, during and after digitisation?|
|Is there adequate security and access control for original paper records before, during and after digitisation?|
 Archives New Zealand, Digitisation standard, 2007, p.17-18.
 National Archives of Australia, Digitising accumulated physical records: A guide to initiating and planning digitisation projects, 2011, p. 21.