Service Bureaus: The Unheralded Heroes of Our Industry

By Richard Porter-Roth posted 11-12-2012 01:11


I just spent three days with a group of people who are dedicated, smart, hard-working, knowledgeable, and all the other superlatives you can think of – they are the people who own and work in the document management service bureau industry. These companies take in your business documents (and more!), convert them to the digital format you have requested, and give them back to you in better condition than received. The event was the AIIM Document Management Service Provider Executive Forum.

Why are they heroes? The last day of the forum was a roundtable session in which these companies could share ideas, ask questions, provide insights, solve problems, and generally speaking, elevate the level of knowledge for everyone. This was done selflessly and motivated by a sense of what is right, not what could be hidden. But what hit me even more was the in-depth knowledge of document management, government regulations, business operations, and everything else that is needed to make the job right and the finished product perfect. These people really knew what they were talking about! Some have been in the business for 30+ years and spoke with genuine enthusiasm as if they had just finished their first successful job. Simply amazing and uplifting – my hat is off to these people and the work they do for us.

If you are in need of a reminder, these are just some of the services that can be provided to you:

  1. Store and manage paper files and boxes including certified paper destruction when requested
  2. Document scanning/capture of virtually any size paper document or microfilm
  3. Improve image quality of deteriorating documents – saving documents after a disaster has struck and be an important step to recovery and restarting your business
  4. Conversion of the document image to a PDF or other formats as specified such as JPG
  5. Data extraction and upload to your back-end processes
    • Data Entry
    • OCR/ICR/Marksense
    • Forms Recognition
  6. Indexing with your designated metadata/taxonomy
  7. Full-text conversion of large documents like contracts
  8. Redaction of data on the image such as a SSN or other PII
  9. Upload index data and image files to your system for search and retrieval
  10. Automate processes via workflow – such as an accounts payable process
  11. Store and host all of your electronic data
  12. Provide disaster recovery services
  13. Professional services/consulting to help you better understand how to make the best use of their services and your processes
  14. Be there to help your business work faster and be more productive – these companies like a challenge

What kind of documents and information do they handle?

  1. Paper documents – can scan virtually any size including oversized document such as maps, engineering drawings, architectural drawings
    • Documents can be in color or black and white, and the document image can be enhanced when the original document is of poor quality
  2. Film – a variety of film and microfilm can be digitized
    • Microfilm
    • Microfiche – jacketed or sheet
    • Aperture cards
  3. Photographs – any size/color/condition
  4. Engineering Drawings
  5. Architectural Drawings
  6. Photo slides and Negatives
  7. Well logs and other “roll” type documents
  8. Xray and other special document types

What Industries are they in? We all would like to work with someone who knows our industry, knows our lingo, laws, and all the quirks of the business – it saves time and shows a fundamental understanding of a business area and process. Service bureaus operate in virtually every industry segment you can name:

  1. Healthcare/Medical
  2. Insurance
  3. Legal/eDiscovery
  4. Financial
  5. Pharmaceutical
  6. Transportation
  7. Manufacturing
  8. Mortgage/Title
  9. Pension/Benefits
  10. State and Local government
  11. Education (K-8, High School, College, University, Private)
  12. Non-profits/Associations

Where do I find them? Service bureaus range from national companies to local companies that service a city or a county. The first place to look is with the AIIM.ORG resources sites and your local AIIM Chapter. You can also search for “document scanning service bureau +(your city)”, and “document scanning companies”.

Some additional reference points you may want to look at:

AIIM Blog:

AIIM Blog:

AIIM Blog:

Bud Porter-Roth

#ICR #SharePoint #Scanning #servicebureau #OCR #Capture #ScanningandCapture #dataextraction #Collaboration #dataentry #ElectronicRecordsManagement