To Scan or Not to Scan

By Lawrence Wischerth posted 10-18-2010 15:50


One of the questions that I am frequently asked is “Why can’t we just scan these documents?”  The easy answer is “sure go ahead and scan the documents and dispose of the paper”.  But, not so fast “Sparky”, there are several other things that need to be considered.

Now, I wouldn’t be contributing to the AIIM Capture Community if I wasn’t an advocate for scanning and all the benefits that are derived from converting paper documents to electronic format.  But I am also experienced enough to realize that scanning is not a panacea for all your paper woes.  Let’s take a look at some of the things you should consider when someone in your organization or one of your customers asks you the “Why can’t we just scan these documents” question.

  1. Ask the Mystery Novel Questions - You know those questions that help you determine the “who done it” in any good mystery: Who, What, When, Where Why and How. Try to apply any or all of these questions to the documents you are considering for scanning. It should help you determine whether or not they are good candidates.
  2. Business Value - Scanning paper that has little or no value to your business may not be the best way to spend your budget dollars. You should consider the content of the documents and evaluate the relative value of the content to your business process or to the organization. It may be more cost effective to store low value documents that need to be retained at an offsite storage facility or to destroy those documents if you can.
  3. Knowledge - Make sure you consider the value of the information stored in the documents. If scanning those documents adds to the corporate knowledge base and makes it available to all knowledge workers, you should consider scanning those documents.
  4. Workflow – Do the documents initiate or contribute to a critical business work process?  This is especially important if your business process spans more than one geographic location. Will electronic versions of this document help generate revenue, enhance customer interactions and customer service or improve turnaround times?
  5. Storage and Management – Where will you store the images and indexing data once the paper has been scanned? Storing the images on a network drive is probably not the best answer. Is there an ECM system or SharePoint repository available? Who will need access to the images? And don’t forget about long term management. Does the system have the ability to manage, archive and delete the images at some point in the future? What are the Records Management implications for these documents and what capabilities exist to implement them?
  6. Savings – Saving space, eliminating the need for additional file cabinets and/or file rooms is probably not enough to justify a scanning project. Remember to consider the “soft dollar savings” that are sometimes more difficult to identify, measure and quantify.  

You have probably heard most of these things before, but sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of these basic concepts.  Be careful not to deploy technology just for technology sake. We can all get caught up in all the wonderful capabilities and possibilities that technology brings to our businesses. But sometimes a “low tech” solution can be just as effective. Try to remember these basic ideas the next time you're asked “Why can’t we just scan the documents?”

#Capture #operations #Scanning #humanfactors #ECM #ScanningandCapture