Photos of filled forms

#1
Hello,

I'm helping a group of startup labs (7 locations total), and our lab staff asked me a question regarding the storage of filled/completed forms on a digital platform. I've never come across this question before now:

Just a thought, instead of having digital forms for each of the daily tasks etc. would it be sufficient to submit a picture of the paper form when it is filled? For example, I'm looking at the cleaning schedule forms, the app we use has a nice interface of taking/submitting photos and I was wondering if it would work if at the end of the month, they could snap photos of the filled cleaning forms and submit the photos.

If after they are submitted, they only need to be stored to have a record I think this could work. If we need to export any of the data from these forms that may be a bit more difficult as they would be stored as an image. Im only suggesting this for the long log style forms (date/initial).

Let me know if this is a possibility as it could 'declutter' the submissions we receive from each lab.



Thinking they fill out the form manually in the binder.. But as we are located everywhere, just storing a photo in records.

Thanks!
 
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John C. Abnet

Teacher, sensei, kennari
Staff member
#2
Hello,

I'm helping a group of startup labs (7 locations total), and our lab staff asked me a question regarding the storage of filled/completed forms on a digital platform. I've never come across this question before now:

Just a thought, instead of having digital forms for each of the daily tasks etc. would it be sufficient to submit a picture of the paper form when it is filled?
Thinking they fill out the form manually in the binder.. But as we are located everywhere, just storing a photo in records.

Thanks!
Good day @dwilkerson ;
If I understand the question correctly, the organizations have committed to recording evidence of certain tasks, and are asking if PHOTOGRAPHIC retention of these records is acceptable (vs the actual "hard" copies).

The question to be asking here is .."why is it NOT be acceptable to retain photographic instead of 'hard' copies?".

I believe you and your teams will easily recognize that there is no rule or reason as to why this would not be allowed.
(the additional question you may wish to pursue is..."what records is it beneficial for us to retain". I come across numerous organizations who have "over committed" in regards to record keeping. Be sure to always as the question "so what" in regard to ANY assigned management system/record keeping requirement. Is there a customer, internal, or other requirement to keep these records? How does/does it, benefit the organization to keep these records? )

Hope this helps.

Be well.
 

Ninja

Looking for Reality
Trusted Information Resource
#4
Hello David,

While I agree with John...no reason a picture is any different than a scan or a hardcopy...taking that approach is a choice to limit any later data mining you might find valuable in the future.
Consider:
1. How many of test X do we do vs Test Y?
2. If we thought Test A takes the same time as Test B, was that assumption correct for billing?
3. Do we do so little of Test Q that we should stop offering that service, it isn't profitable?
etc.....
It will be an agonizing nightmare to get that data from pictures, a 2minute job if the form itself was filled electronically (assuming a database on the back end).

Both ways are allowable (assuming retention security), one has a whole lot more upside for the future.
 

JimS

Involved In Discussions
#5
I agree with Ninja that photos would be very limiting for any downstream use of the information within the forms. Unless you could find a way to add it all as metadata to the image files?

You could also look at simple tools to help. I don't know if it'll do the trick but I have the free Adobe Scan app on my phone. It'll snap to the borders of the document, take an image, OCR it and save it as a PDF. Nice, clean, searchable document in seconds. At home I find it very useful.

And it seems to me that once you've created the image as your record, you have to deal with that paper original. If it's hanging around in somebody's drawer, especially at another location, what's keeping said person from pulling it out and altering it in some fashion? One location, one truth.
 
#7
Thank you for all of the replies! I agree that photos could potentially cause trouble later downstream, unless we do something like meta-data, tags, etc. Thanks again, David
 
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