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Most Canadian businesses are worried about losing their electronic documents, but the majority aren't taking measures to ensure their security, a recent survey by Xerox Canada and Leger Marketing has found.

The survey revealed that 71 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses are afraid of misplacing electronically stored documents, however 66 per cent currently do not have an internal document management plan nor do they employ an outside service to manage their documents.

Additionally, almost half of the survey respondents (49 per cent) who do not employ a document management strategy said it was because they felt it was not important to their business or customers.

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On average, Canadian SMB owners and managers say it costs of $2,152 a year to manage and store documents and about one hour a day to search for these documents.

For businesses with more than 10 employees, the time increases to almost two hours a week, and the cost of storing documents more than doubles to $5,760 a year.

"In addition to preventing document loss, there are many tangible benefits effective document management can have on a company," says Rod Turgeon, vice-president, Xerox Global Services, Xerox Canada. "Businesses of all sizes can save time and money, reduce errors, and improve their work environment by simplifying the method of finding and handling documents. The key is to plan, implement, and enforce a document management strategy from day one, so it can grow as the business grows."

The survey also suggests that the younger the business, the more likely it is to embrace technology. Businesses of five years or younger are more likely to store the majority of documents electronically (37 per cent), compared with businesses older than 15 years (29 per cent). Newer businesses are also more familiar with document management (67 per cent, compared with 63 per cent for more established companies), and are less concerned about electronic data loss than older businesses (68 per cent versus 76 per cent).

The survey was conducted for Xerox Canada Inc. by Leger Marketing, the sole Canadian representative of the Gallup International Association, between July 19 and August 2, 2006. It had a representative sample of 331 small and medium-sized business owners or managers. The survey is considered accurate within plus or minus 5.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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