Scanning Microfilm Records And Importing To An Existing Content Management System

We’re ready to work with you to scan your microfilm and import the images and data into your existing system. You read that right! As a Registrar, we know you have a lot on your plate, and the last thing you may want right now is to hear about yet another digital content management system that “will change your life!” You already have a database application, why should you get another? Fair enough.

Instead of trying to push you down the hill and hope that you buy our application, we want to make sure you know that we’re happy to collaborate on your project to figure out the best solution, scan your microfilm into digital, and import the images and data into your existing database system. This isn’t a trick, either. Not a bait and switch, not a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Even though we have an application that could work as a digital archive system for your microfilm records, it’s your opinion that truly matters, and we’re ready to help you utilize your current systems to their fullest.

Let’s take a look at the different parts of a microfilm scanning project below, as it relates to student records, and how we can get your data imported to your management system.

From a bird’s-eye view, a microfilm scanning project is actually pretty straightforward:

  • You work with one of our Account Executives to determine what you want to accomplish once the project is complete.
  • Collaborate to build a Scope of Work
  • Commit to a contract/agreement with designated roles and responsibilities of your organization and BMI.
  • Provide us with your microfilm.
  • We scan your microfilm.
  • You have access to the digital images created from the microfilm scans.

Fairly simple, and when you look at it this way, it should lighten the stress that may come to you when you think of “a microfilm scanning and indexing project!”

We’ve even put together a nice infographic that visually illustrates the general process BMI follows to create, test, and execute microfilm scanning projects. Take a look at our page How Does A Microfilm Conversion Project Work for more info as well as to check out the graphic.

Collaboration between your organization and ours is one of the most important parts of the process. Without this, your project becomes much less likely to have a successful outcome. Collaboration is important for the following reasons:

What Do You Really Want?

This is not a stupid question. Lots of times when we first interact with clients, we get the surface-level answer of what they want for their scanning project. It’s not necessarily wrong, but there is usually a deeper reason for scanning their film, or a way of achieving what they want that’s more beneficial than they had originally thought of. By diving into this question and surfacing any hidden or unknown specifics, requirements, wants, needs, and so forth, we can work together to come up with the optimal solution.

Options Available

With microfilm scanning and conversion projects, you can peel the orange dozens of different ways. Just because you read or hear about a particular way that someone else completed their project doesn’t mean that that’s going to work for you. Your project and your organization are unique, and a custom-designed project process flow is what will make the whole operation successful! If it were easy as making a cookie cutter for microfilm scanning Registrar projects, someone would have done it already and looked like the moneybags guy from Monopoly.

Constraints (ie budget, timeline, systems, etc.)

No one likes to talk about constraints because they’re usually uncomfortable situations. Salesperson: “So, it looks like we have everything you’re asking for, we’ve discussed the price, and we’re ready to start. When can we expect a PO?” Registrar: “Ooooh, yeah, we don’t actually have any money for this project.” Oof! Constraints aren’t really anyone’s fault, but they shouldn’t be hidden until everyone’s gone down the hill. If there’s something that may stall out the progress of the project, even if it’s in the early phases (scope of work discussion, contracting, etc.), get it on the table so it can be reviewed and resolved!

For a fairly solid way to ferret out any constraints, check out our article “Walk Backward To Sprint Forward: Reverse Engineer Your Project.

Best Solution

The best solution is the one that accomplishes your goals, not those of the company you work with. And like item “b” above states, there are many, many ways you can execute a conversion project, but it will come down to what makes you win.

Take a couple of minutes to read our “What You Should Expect During Your Digital Conversion Project” article to get a good feel for a couple areas you should keep your eye out for.


  • Roll level easy, it’s how you find your data now but faster
  • Student level, can be difficult and definitely expensive. Careful about where the records are keyed. Potentially 2,000+ records per roll.
  • Is the juice worth the squeeze to get just a little bit better? Depends on the final application.


  • Fiche level can be simple or difficult based on how the information is laid out and what needs to be captured
  • Student level, if multiple students on a fiche, can be difficult and definitely expensive. Careful about where the records are keyed. Potentially 20+ records per fiche.

The security of your records is probably a top concern, as it should be. When you’re making a decision about who to work with, there are numerous variables like location of the vendor, years in business, number of or types of projects completed similar to yours, price, solution offered, and so on. Even if all the above fit right into your checkbox of “must-haves,” but the security of your records while in the care of this company doesn’t leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling, that’s a showstopper. Who cares what the price of the project is if your records are breached? Will you be happy you chose the low-cost option? Of course not!

We know that security is a concern, and that most microfilm scanning projects aren’t executed with the goal of causing an earth-shattering change. They’re done to stay up to date with current technology, to ensure data retention, and to improve data access without sinking the boat at the same time. The way this is accomplished is through secure methods both in the way your sensitive data is physically handled as well as how the digital images and data are processed.

To get a solid overview of the standards we hold ourselves to, and the methods we implement to provide a secure project environment for you, take a look at our Security webpage.

This section is the real meat of why you’re here, and the overall goal of your digital conversion project: to scan your hard copy records to a digital format and import them into your existing software! The good news is that this is completely doable. The better news is that we execute this type of project on a regular basis and will be able to work with you to make your project a success.

  • It doesn’t matter which content management software you have, we’re able to work with you. Laserfiche, OnBase, ImageNow, SharePoint, etc.? Let’s do it!
  • We can work with you to create a load file (CSV, XML, etc.) that matches the destination of your content management software so that the import process is a smooth and easy process.
  • Once we finish the conversion and processing portion of your project, the digital images, data, and load file are delivered and your IT imports the data into your software. The load file will populate the images and data to the correct fields and locations based on the criteria you provided us.

With a good number of projects under our belt, we can guide you down the conversion project path and provide insights into the best methods and approaches to scan and index your records. No two projects are the same, but they can have similarities to successful projects we’ve worked on with other clients.

Some general areas we’ll cover with you are overall endgame goals, scope of the project, indexing/organization requirements, budget, timeline, potential speedbumps, and more. Bottom line, we want you to success and if we miss something that is important to you and critical to the success of your project, let us know!

Project discussions, scopes of work, and outcome goals are all great to have, and important to the framing and momentum of your digital conversion. But what’s even more important is when the rubber meets the road, when the project actually begins.

It’s possible to go from 0 to 60 right out the gate, but not normally recommended unless there’s a very good reason to expedite the project. A phrase that is good to remember is “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” This means that if you take your time and hit all the right boxes as you begin your project, your momentum will build and you’ll avoid the project-halting issues that can occur when you try to move too fast.

This is why we recommend a simple first step of sampling your project. Depending on the complexity of your requirements, the material involved, and the amount of time you have scheduled for the project, a sample can be a great way to get a first glimpse into how your project might be executed. A sample isn’t necessarily an exact representation of the final setup your project will have, but it’s a good rough idea that can affirm some assumptions, or surface some issues that were overlooked.

More detailed than a sample, and the real first step once you decide to work with BMI, is what we like to call our Milestone 1 Proof of Concept, or M1 for short. This is where we take the scope of work you and your Account Executive developed and translate it into a Project Process Flow. Your Process Flow is custom-built to your project specifications, and it can be five steps or it can be fifty. Once we’ve built the Process Flow, we take a small representative batch from your overall project and run it through the Flow. By doing this, we can test if our setup delivers the results you want, and also surface any issues that no one knew about. We’ll even find ways to improve your project based on recommendations from our Project Team. Once the M1 is complete, you’ll be able to review it with your Account Executive and either give us the approval to move forward with the remainder of the project, or let us know about changes you want to make based on what you’ve seen.

The M1 is a critical step in our project methodology because it allows both BMI and you to agree that the project is set up correctly, and that we’re on the same page moving forward with the rest of your project. Measure twice, cut once!

For more information about custom-built project process flows, take a look at our article “Creating A Conversion Process Flow … For You!

Your primary goal is to scan your microfilm into a digital format and load it into an existing content database, and that’s what we’ll help you accomplish.

A consideration you should make, as a good records manager of your organization, is how your data is backed up. Do you have a duplicate of your database? Are you keeping the microfilm in storage? Are you positive all images were captured? These questions, plus many more that aren’t listed here, might be floating through your head even as you beam with pride as your digital conversion project wraps up.

We can offer you a simple solution that will a) provide a disaster recovery backup replica of your original microfilm records, b) allow you to globally search for keywords and phrases, and c) provide you with an enhancement capability to optimize legibility of hard to read images.

For more information, take a look at our Digital ReeL page or contact us to chat with one of our Account Executives.