What exactly is document imaging?
Document imaging, scanning, digitising or digitisation is the process of converting physical files, books, research material, historical records and drawings into searchable electronic files such as a PDF. It’s a productive method of being able to access and disseminate information more easily within your workplace.
The actual process of scanning is very much like photocopying, everyone can visualize feeding documents through a photocopier, with document scanning an image is created rather than a duplicate paper copy.
There are a lot of different drivers for why you would go to a fully electronic records system. One of the main motivations is that everything else other than your paper files is a digital record within an organisation.
Physical Paper files are now a Liability. Basically scanning your paper files means there is no legacy reference material sitting in Bob’s desk and Jane’s C Drive. You have basically corporatised all of the information that should be within reach of your staff /clients and management.
These days it’s quite easy with iPads/tablets and smart phones to be able to log into the companies document management application, retrieve the information that’s needed.
This allows staff to work remotely as salespeople on the road or working in a satellite office being able to access the most current version from the head offices corporate archive.
Today’s Technology also means that you’ve got the ability to disseminate information wherever it’s needed. You can securitize it so you can lock people out of accessing certain record types or you can create a work group so that everyone has access to it and they may be a remote from the office space.
Within Microsystems, we’re regularly converting over 2 million pages of documents into searchable images every month. Each of our Client’s documents are treated individually. Each Application has a different specification that relates the indexing and scan criteria that we apply to those files.
Should I actually image all of my paper documents or should I be more selective in what I’m imaging?
You should be going through what I would call a vital record assessment. Intrinsically, you’re going and having a complete assessment of what records maintain the viability of the organisation to sustain a calamity.
They would be the number one records that you would start with. Yes, your tax department, he want to see seven years of your accounts payable records, but I wouldn’t be going back and scanning seven years worth of accounts payable records as the first point of call. They are basically a transactional document.
What I would consider in Accounts Payable is actually starting scanning this financial years hard copy documents, create a line in the sand and then as we’ve talked about having a thorough look at workflow initiatives with the accounts payable process so that you’re actually getting a productive, throughput and payment processing of documents.
The documents that I’d be emphasizing would be board type minutes. I would be looking at any engineering records if you’re a manufacturer. I would be looking at anything that is reference material or all of your quotes, all of the information that is regarding your staff, say HR files and payroll records. I would be looking at all of your quality assurance information. Basically the things that substantiate how you’ve conducted yourself in business and the information that’s necessary for you maintain the ongoing ability to conduct business.
Going electronic is one of the most effective methods for you to guarantee that even in the instance of a fire or flood or some other calamity, you can go back after the insurance is paid for the equipment to be replaced, you still have the actual Intellectual capacity to continue to be in business.
Should imaging be performed internally or is it something that’s better outsourced?
Every business has different needs and skill sets. I would recommend that if the scanning of paper being received or internally created is central to the operation of the business then undertake the Scanning internally, as a general rule of thumb if the volume of scanning is consistent and increases internal daily productivity then scan internally..
Microsystems have many organisations we have put in-house solutions into and they work extremely well because they essentially have sufficient volume on a daily basis to make it part of their core business.
If you’re a medical center, a doctor’s surgery, if you maintain a large mail room and it is part of your day-to-day role, you’ve got enough volume and it becomes just one of the tasks being undertaken by that department, then certainly in-house scanning is very viable. You need to have diligent staff so that the documents are being classified, distributed and archived effectively within the organisation.
If it’s not your core business, if you’re getting random peaks and troughs in volume, if you have a significant backlog that’s been accumulated over years, if you’ve got engineering drawings or legacy microfilm, or you’ve got 35mm slides or bromides or weird wonderful collections of information, then you better off to come to a specialist scanning bureau such as Microsystems.
We’ve have the diversity of equipment, that specialized scanner that is capable of getting really high quality images from whatever media type that you give us. We also have the capacity to get the accumulated backlog of files scanned very quickly with certainty of the end result.
The best solution may be a mix of both, Microsystems scan all of the backlog, we will index it and get the naming conventions in place and you then have a situation where, because we’ve created the content, once we deploy that within your organisation, the staff have now got an electronic solution that they can access and add too.
The Strategic benefit of outsourcing the backlog is there’s no change management resistance from staff because they can appreciate why imaging the paper filing system is a great tool for them to access the information, and therefore introducing an in-house scanning solution at that point in time is fully embraced. This strategy works extremely well because the staff are then motivated to continue to maintain the archive that you’ve achieved through Microsystems scanning the backlog.
This approach removes the daunting task of tasking your employees to undertake their normal daily work plus trying to scan a mountain of accumulated records that in reality they won’t even come close to completing with years of effort and the overall result is simply unhappy staff dreading the monotony of the staple removal, scanning and indexing of files, you’ve got no consistency in the naming schemas, and that may become a bigger problem than if you had just left it as a paper-based system because now you can’t find the electronic file.
Talk to Microsystems, our 40 Years Document Conversion Experience will give professional advice regarding the appropriate solution for your business, whether it is a departmental problem, your moving premises and reducing floor space allocations, or simply want greater efficiency and happier more productive staff with the added bonus of complete control over access and data security.