We’ve seen a full range of “best practices” and challenges when it comes to document scanning and “paperless” initiatives. We thought it would be useful to share three of the most common pitfalls organizations run into when evaluating document scanning services.
1) Underestimating The Scope Of The Document Scanning Project
Wondering why you’d pay someone to scan your paper records to a digital format? For a couple of folders or a few personal documents, you’re right, you can and probably should do it yourself.
But when you’re looking at scanning dozens or hundreds of boxes of paper, you’d be surprised at how fast you’ll get in over your head. How much do you want to spend on scanning equipment? Who is going to actually perform the document scanning? How much will this cost you per hour and have you thought how long this is going to take? What about the need to merge documents or properly index them so they can be found once in a digital format? Do we even have internal servers large enough to hold all this information?
Scanning projects seem simple enough, but when you look under the hood there’s a lot of work that goes into them. If you take a few minutes to start at the end and work backward, you’ll see that it can get pretty complicated.
Underestimating the scope of you project can be a nightmare and you’ll get stuck in a quagmire of half-done work. Don’t beat yourself up about it – instead, hire a scanning company (aka “scanning expert”) and let them do the dirty work.
2) Not Involving All Stakeholders in the Requirements Phase
Document scanning projects happen all the time. Somebody makes a decision to digitally scan a set of records but doesn’t consider the overall organizational process.
Who’s accessing the records and how do they prefer to search for the records? Are there retention requirements on these records? How many departments in the organization need access? Is IT involved and do they have the infrastructure ready to handle the new digital data?
When you head out on a scanning project, make sure to have a plan and involve all those who are and who may be involved, so you don’t step in something bad later one, killing the whole momentum of the initiative.
3) Failure to Examine All Digital Retrieval Options
We commonly get requests to simply scan hard copy documents to PDFs and provide a USB drive (otherwise known as a “traditional” conversion). Some customers have an existing system they want the documents uploaded to. The key is to make sure you’re getting a look at all the options available to you, not just what a sales rep tells you is available.
Questions to consider include: what fields do we want to index? Do we want the ability to full-text search records to really unlock retrieval potential? What about record enhancement options for digital documents that are tough to read? Should we consider document hosting as an easy way to store and securely access these records over the web?
An easy example is microfilm scanning. Most folks think that scanned microfilm comes back as PDFs and that’s that. What they may not know is that a “traditional” PDF conversion is just one option, and that there are many others, such as our Digital ReeL platform. Without knowing the difference between the two, you may make a decision that you regret later.
Are you interested in talking with someone about your scanning project but don’t know where to start? Give us a call at 800.359.3456 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have one of our reps reach out to you and see if we can help you avoid the common document scanning pitfalls.
Read some more about scanning and digital conversion and put yourself on the path to success!
“5 Ways To Ensure A Successful Microfilm Scanning Project” lays out 5 items to consider before you start your project so that you end up happy at the end.
“Breaking Down The Box: How To Approach Your Paper Scanning Project” dives deep into paper scanning and explains the different ways to look at your project. A box isn’t just a box – it’s thousands of pages and hundreds of records, each requiring its own special method of handling.
“What You Should Expect During Your Digital Conversion Project” gives you a few things to consider before you start a conversion; things you should expect and things you shouldn’t expect. These can be related to your files, your scanning partner, and yourself, so give this one a good read and understand what you’re getting into!