“But I WANT a scanner on my DESK!”

By Michael Wells posted 08-12-2010 17:15


Who in ECM hasn’t heard that one before.  I tend to hear it when we move our ECM project into a new department.  Those users tent to have some preconceived notions about what Document Imaging means for them.

To many, it means “I get a scanner!”

It’s odd for some folks – to think that the new document imaging project will involve (in most cases) very few document capture devices.  Counterintuitive.

My ideal capture design (for most cases) is to have one or two central scanner workstations with dedicated staff members manning them for the workday.  All capture comes through these scanners.

We’ve found, though, that consolidated scanning offers the best ROI for most capture situations.  (I think this calls for a bulleted list!)

  • Consolidated capture brings better scanners.  You can buy fewer, better, scanners instead of more, cheaper scanners. 
  • Consolidated capture brings better automation.  Having a central scanning machine makes it easier to add automation to your process.  Automation means fewer errors in your metadata.  Fewer errors in your metadata makes your ECM folks happy.
  • Consolidated capture brings you consistency.  Hopefully having a central scanner has allowed you to buy a better scanner (see bullet one) which in most cases will provide more consistent images.  IF you are able to dedicate staff to these scanners (which I highly recommend) you will see even bigger consistency payoffs.  Those staff members become EXPERTS at scanning.  They know what works.  They know how to load documents.  They know the settings to use.  Sometimes, their job evaluations depend on their scanning quality.  As opposed to:
  • Distributed scanning fails at making everyone an expert.  A scanner on every desk usually means that each employee is doing very little scanning.  They forget.  They don’t pay attention to the settings, or to loading the paper.  Inconsistency in the images rarely matters to them because they scan so infrequently that they won’t even notice the problem.
  • Consolidated scanning improves the process.  With fewer capture points you have to THINK about the office workflow and how it will change.  This gives you a rare opportunity to re-engineer those processes.  How can we make this faster?  More accurate? Take advantage of those opportunities.

I’d love to say that I’ve been completely successful with all of our implementations, but alas, this is not the case.  Even in those cases who insist on scanners everywhere, there end up being a few capture points which become much more active than the others.  Those staff members become the de-facto “experts” for their areas.

In conclusion – centralized scanning has many benefits in most ECM cases.  As you make your ECM plans, or as you revisit previous ECM installations, build a capture plan and try to keep your capture input points as centralized as possible.  Then, reap the rewards of a more productive and efficient ECM system.

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