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10 Questions to Ask Before Diving into Document Digitization

10 Questions, document digitization High Quality

It’s no secret that digital transformation is a hot topic for business these days. Organizations everywhere are looking to embrace the newest technology and migrate to the cloud. However, the change from physical to digital can be somewhat daunting.

Document digitization is the first step to getting 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. Digitizing documents helps create a structured filing system that provides secure file sharing and text-searchable documents. Converting files to digital ones frees up valuable office real estate and allows employees to have remote access to crucial files.

Whether you’re looking to dive head-first into digital transformation with high-volume scanning or start with a small-scale imaging project, having a strategy is critical. Here are the most common questions to ask before accelerating your transition to a more digital workplace:

10 Document Scanning Questions

1. What type of documents do you need to be scanned? 

Determining which documents you need access to the most should be a driver for which files you choose to scan. These 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 document scanning project?

When embarking on a document scanning project, it is crucial to take into account the size and scale of the task at hand. Are you dealing with numerous boxes of records that require scanning or just a few documents that need imaging?

Conducting a file cabinet survey or drawer count is a great way to get started in figuring out the number of boxes needed and estimating scanning costs.

3. Do you need your files indexed?

During the document scanning process, files are indexed and tagged with metadata to help you find documents more easily. Indexing categories may include client names, employee names, identification numbers, dates, topics, and document types. For example, a human resources department may categorize employee files by name, 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?

When considering a digitization project, the type of file format you need your documents to be in is key. Popular file formats include PDFs, JPEGs, or TIFFs. Knowing what type of file output you need is essential in order to ensure that your digital documents are easily accessible and shareable—and that you don’t end up with a bunch of useless files.

You’ll also 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 emailed? Some documents may require more secure ways of transferring files than others. If so, it’s always recommended to investigate the encryption options available.

5. How do you want to access your digitized files?

As you’re moving through the digital transformation process with document digitization, it’s important to consider how you would like to access and manage your files in the future. Digital formats can be exported into a document management system (DMS) for you to access files via your PC, laptop, or tablet. You will want to assess the security of your data, so it’s important to ask about the highest level of encryption available when discussing software options.

It’s also imperative to inquire about scalability and integration. A DMS should be able to grow with your company as your business needs change, and it should be capable of integrating with other software solutions. Making sure your system can connect to accounting or customer relationship management (CRM) software will save time and minimize errors.

6. Do you need a document management system or document hosting?

A DMS is a computer system or software used to track, manage, and retrieve electronic documents. With a DMS, you have immediate access to all your files on a secure, metadata-driven platform. They not only store your records but enable your employees to share documents, assign tasks, and edit files in real time.

A file hosting service provides cloud-based delivery of digital documents. It includes the use of document management software or a DMS that is hosted via the cloud and delivered to end-users’ desktops via the web. Traditionally, DMSs were installed and maintained on 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.

7. 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 digital document storage. With document scanning and storage solutions, 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.

8. 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 whether your organization requires documents to be kept on hand. In some situations, legislation requires original files to be stored. If this is the case, document storage services provide a feasible option to protect your confidential business information 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.

9. How do you ensure the accuracy of digitized documents?

Scanned documents are only as accurate as the technology used to create them. It’s essential to have quality control measures in place to ensure that documents are legible, and information is accurately captured. A combination of manual and automated quality control methods can help identify potential issues before they become costly mistakes. Manual techniques such as regular spot checks of scanned documents and data entry accuracy help maintain a good level of quality. Automated image enhancement processes can also be used to improve the quality of scanned documents, such as deskewing, cropping, sharpening, and auto-leveling.

These quality control measures are especially important when dealing with sensitive information such as medical records or legal documents, where an inaccurate scan could result in serious consequences. Before embarking on a digital transformation project, businesses should inquire about the various quality control measures a document imaging provider offers to ensure data accuracy and compliance with regulations.

10. How do you find the right scanning partner?

Digitizing documents is an essential step in the digital transformation of any business. Planning and preparation are critical to the success of any scanning project. By understanding your needs, choosing the right technology, and ensuring that security and accuracy standards are met, you can accelerate your transition to a digital workplace and enjoy the benefits of increased productivity, efficiency, and collaboration.

It’s essential to select a document scanning provider you trust and that is committed to information security. Professional document digitization services 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 data management company, you can consolidate all your document scanning, storage, and shredding requirements for long-term cost and service benefits.

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