Document scanning is the first step to get your digital transformation started. There are several benefits of document scanning, even if it’s only imaging a portion of your files or instituting a day-forward approach. Document scanning helps create a structured filing system that provides secure file sharing and text-searchable documents. Scanning projects free up valuable office real estate and allow employees to have remote access to crucial files.
Whether you’re looking to dive head-first into digital transformation or start with a small-scale imaging project, having a strategy is critical. Here are the most common document scanning questions to ask before accelerating your transition to a more digital workplace:
10 Questions to Ask When Considering Digital Transformation
1. What type of documents do you need to be scanned?
Determining what documents you need access to the most should be a driver for what files you choose to scan. These files may include case notes, financial records, employee files, or contracts. However, a professional document scanning provider can scan much more than legal and letter-sized documents, such as blueprints, sticky notes, business cards, and artwork. In some cases, providers can scan microfilm and microfiche into digital formats.
2. What’s the scope of your scanning project?
The size and scope of your document scanning project are essential factors to consider. Do you have boxes full of records to be scanned or only a small handful of documents that need to be imaged? An excellent start to determining box count and estimating the cost to scan is by performing a file cabinet survey or drawer count.
3. Do you need your files indexed?
During the document scanning process, files are indexed and tagged with metadata to help you find documents easier. Indexing categories may include client names, employee names, identification numbers, dates, topics, and document type. For example, a human resources department may categorize employee files by name, or employee identification number, or both, to retrieve its records faster.
After your files are categorized, an imaging provider can perform hand-keyed indexing, including full text or zonal capture, for better search results and process automation. Additionally, a vendor can complete OCR (optical character recognition) to convert each image into searchable text.
4. What type of file output do you need?
Depending on your individual needs, file outputs may vary and include PDFs, JPEGs, or TIFFs. Additionally, you’ll need to consider how you want your digital files delivered to you. Do you want them on flash drives, external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, or SFTPs?
5. How do you want to access your digitized files?
To prevent disruption in your everyday workflow, you will need to consider how you want to access and manage your files. Digital formats can be exported into a document management system for you to access files from via your PC, laptop, or tablet.
If you need files in a portable format for storage or access outside of a document management system, be sure to establish this upfront when surveying vendors as it may affect pricing.
6. Do you need a document management system or document hosting?
A document management system (or DMS) is a computer system or software used to track, manage, and retrieve electronic documents from. With document management systems, you have immediate access to all your files on a secure, metadata-driven platform. Document management systems not only store your records but enable your employees to share documents, assign tasks, and edit files in real-time.
Document hosting services provide the cloud-based delivery of digital documents. It includes the use of a document management system or software that is hosted via the cloud and delivered to end-users’ desktops via the web. Traditionally, document management systems were installed and maintained at the client side on their network and PCs. Today most end users prefer internet or cloud-based access and distribution of scanned documents and content. Simply put, document hosting services reduce the resources needed to support an internal DMS.
8. What are the costs of document scanning?
Document scanning costs vary depending on your project requirements. Significant factors that affect the prices of document scanning projects include document preparation fees and your total number of images. Be sure to provide your vendor with a detailed analysis of your type of documents, volume size, and expected turnaround time for a more accurate quote.
You will also want to consider pricing for a system to manage your documents. To eliminate the costly upfront software installation fees to run a DMS, you may want to consider document hosting. With document hosting, deployment is performed remotely, reducing support and maintenance fees. Security is also maintained by the hosting provider, removing the need to stay updated with policies and upgrade software. Depending on your document scanning provider, imaging and hosting services can be bundled into a monthly or annual fee so you can budget appropriately.
9. What happens to materials after they’ve been scanned?
After your files have been scanned, you’ll need to consider what to do with them. Frequently, the decision is based on the type of documents involved in the project, and if your organization requires documents to be kept on hand. In some situations, legislation requires original files to be stored. If this is the case, records storage services provide a feasible option to protect documents in a secure offsite facility.
However, if the physical storage of documents is not a requirement, a shredding program is a secure, cost-effective option to destroy unneeded materials. Since most business documents include personally identifiable information (PII) of clients or employees, federal and state legislation requires the secure disposal of them. Professional document shredding services provide a compliant way to destroy unneeded records to help you comply with federal regulations and state destruction laws.
10. How do you find the right document scanning partner?
It’s essential to select a document scanning provider you trust and is committed to information security. A professional imaging vendor should transmit encrypted images with Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certification to ensure compliance with HIPAA and other federal privacy laws.
Although digital transformation might be on your mind now, you may want to consider a vendor that’s flexible and can accommodate your future needs. By partnering with a full-service records and information partner, you can consolidate all your document scanning, storage, and shredding requirements for long-term cost and service benefits.