Why Document Scanning Matters
Why your organisation should consider using document imaging to convert paper to digital
As individuals, companies, and organisations generate more and more information, the question of what to do with your paper records and documents arises. Paper has been the trusted medium for recording information for a very long time and it will probably remain in use for a long time to come.
This does not, however, mean that you should hold on to every paper document you have ever created or avoid electronic data storage mediums. In fact, it is impossible to avoid electronic data storage altogether as we have come to rely on computers and emails and even social networks for both personal and business use.
When it comes to converting paper into digital, there are a few things that are good to know. For one, document imaging is so much more than simply scanning a piece of paper so that it can be accessed on a computer. Document imaging involves not only the process of scanning but also the storage and retrieval processes.
Documents that are scanned also have metadata added to them. Metadata consists of naming, descriptions, and a variety of other labelling information that allows documents to be properly indexed. Metadata allows you to search for documents using your computer’s search functionality. This result is much faster access to documents than is possible with paper documents.
Document imaging is really about creating more effective and streamlined business processes. The application of the complete document imaging process is:
- Input (Scan)
- Identification (Metadata)
- Storage (Database)
- Retrieval (Access controlled web portal)
Utilising this process realises a number of important benefits:
- Reduces the need for storage space, which saves on costs
- Increases security through access control systems that can include audit trails
- Increases the speed of retrieval through search features and web access
- Better compliance, as documents and records, are backed up electronically
- Improved employee productivity as lost documents and delays in locating documents are eliminated
Barriers to having your documents converted to digital format
It is easy to see the benefits of having your documents and records digitised. However, many companies including yours may still be putting off document imaging for a number of reasons.
Yes, imaging is a lengthy process and thus, there are considerable costs involved, especially when you have high volumes of paper documents. The costs come in the form of hiring a professional document imaging company or through the purchase of scanners to do the scanning in-house.
It is important to understand that the benefits of paper digitisation will be most noticeable in the medium to long-term. The initial cost will be offset over time by savings, not only in terms of storage costs but also through increased productivity and improved legal compliance. The latter reducing the risk of costly litigation should a situation come up and records are required as evidence.
Should you attempt the document imaging process as an in-house project you will, of course, face the issue of time. Not only will you lose time in terms of your productivity as your staff find themselves wearing more than on hat but they will have to learn how to do the scanning and become practised before they achieve any level of efficiency.
Then there is the fact that before scanning takes place your documents need to be sorted and prepared (think staple removal) for scanning. If you get through the scanning stage, you will then have to work out what metadata to add, and how to add it to allow for proper indexing and retrieval. Finally, there is the matter of having an efficient electronic storage system in place.
While a few companies may still prefer the challenge of handling their imaging needs in-house, you probably understand that the smarter option is to partner with an expert, such as Iron Mountain.
Iron Mountain has for many years offered a professional document-imaging bureau that is equipped with bulk scanning equipment and trained and experienced staff to streamline the process of taking your company or organisation in the future.
For more information about our imaging and scanning solutions, feel free to contact us today.