6 Document Prep Tips to Streamline Scanning and Document Capture

By Andrew Bailey posted 08-05-2014 10:30

  

When you finally make the call to “go paperless,” it’s easy to get excited. Who wouldn’t be? A more organized, efficient and secure workplace without all that wasted money and wasted space (and those papercuts) sounds like a dream. And we won’t lie; it’s pretty great.

But if you’re planning on a backfile conversion – scanning most or all of your existing paper documents into a new document management solution, like SAFE – you can’t forget one seemingly simple, seemingly menial andabsolutely necessary step. Document preparation.

What exactly is document preparation, you ask? To put it simply, document preparation is looking over your documents and getting them ready to scan. Removing staples, paperclips and sticky notes. Smoothing out creases. Figuring out how best to segregate file folders and boxes. All that good stuff. Sounds easy, right? Well, not exactly. But don’t hit the panic button just yet. Asking yourself the following six document preparation questions will dramatically improve your chances of a problem-free capture process.

1. Are my documents all the same size? Are they single- or double-sided? Identifying the sizes of the documents needing to be scanned will help determine which type of scanner you’ll need. The device should be able to scan both your largest and smallest sizes of paper without changing the scanning parameters. In most cases, the scanner will also need to beduplex capable, which is the ability to scan both the front and back of a page.

2. What are the characteristics of my documents? Are they black and white, or color? Do they have handwritten markings on them? Various characteristics of documents – such as colored writing, highlights and underlines – can result in low-quality scans, which may render the documents unusable. If they’re unavoidable, a scanner or software add-on withenhanced image processing will help you get past these issues.

3. Are my documents all the same type (e.g., invoices, POs, delivery tickets)? Or are they mixed types (e.g., medical records, HR files)? When documents are of the same type, they can usually be scanned in simple categorized groups. But mixed-type documents will need folder- and document-level categorization – otherwise known as “document separation”. Capture software can determine when a new category or folder of documents starts scanning based on a “separator,” which may be a blank page, a patch code or a fixed page count. If your capture software can’t do this … it’s time for new capture software.

4. What is the quality of my documents? Were they printed with a laser, dot matrix or fax printer? Once the documents are scanned into your system, you may need to search them for specific text. If so, an optical character recognition (OCR) process must be preformed on the image. The accuracy of OCR is highly dependent on the quality and clarity of the documents scanned. Your documents should be scanned in the best condition and resolution possible to ensure precise OCR and easy text-search later on. OCR should be combined with a proper document-indexing scheme and must never be the lone method in locating an electronic image in the document management software.

5. How many documents do I need to scan. How quickly? Knowing this will help determine the necessary scanning hardware, the amount of staff needed for the preparation, and a realistic project timeframe. Scanners are rated in pages per minute, so calculating project time can be done based on the scanner’s rating.

6. Do I have a trusted advisor to effectively manage this project and see it through?Document preparation is a big job of the even bigger process of going paperless. A well-trained and knowledgeable advisor with the necessary staff is fundamental to an efficient operation. Designating an internal champion and developing a proper plan will help meet goals, define problems, and troubleshoot any complications along the way.

Congratulations! You’re now an expert on document preparation and one step closer to the joys of a paperless workplace. To learn more on best practices for going paperless,download our eBook today!



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