Bulk Document Scanning: How to Make Every Image Count
Bulk document scanning has moved beyond the imaging of documents for archiving.
Today, nearly 3 out of 4 executives are aware that conducting their day-to-day business “at the speed of paper” is rapidly becoming unacceptable. Close to half of the executives we asked believe that removing paper would significantly improve productivity. However, most agree that there is no simple way to accurately predict the ROI for making the change.
This means that when it comes to driving the paperless initiative within their organization as a means to increase productivity, executives need help making the business case.
Unlike the business case for scanning or imaging documents for archive, which has been honed over the past three decades, putting numbers to productivity is not only more difficult, but also department-dependent. For instance, the business case based on savings in office space or off-site storage fees is easily calculated by comparing the cost of storage over the life-time of the files, vs. the relatively low cost of electronic storage. A box of files costs the same to store whether it’s HR files or A/P files.
But, removing paper documents from the HR workflow may have different productivity results than removing paper documents from the A/P workflow. There’s no doubt that productivity will be improved. But in a business world that values exact dollars and cents predictions, it’s important to realize that the ROI may be different for each department. It’s not a set dollar amount, like box storage of paper is.
For this reason, productivity improvement takes research, planning, and, requires executives to set realistic productivity and quality expectations.
Beyond Document Scanning to Document Capture
When executives consider going paperless to improve productivity, they really need to think beyond basic document scanning, which is just recording an image of a document. Document capture covers the combined processes of document scanning, image correction, recognition of text, barcodes, form fields, etc. and finally, output to an appropriate format for subsequent processing or archive storage.
This multi-faceted approach is necessary in order to extract all of the data needed for entry into a document store-and-retrieve system and increasingly for forms- processing, workflow and Business Process Management (BPM). Capture may also be applied to faxes, emails, electronic documents, images and messages, which all need to be considered as part of an over-all productivity improvement effort.
Traditionally, scanning and capture has been considered technically challenging, requiring specialized high-speed scanners and skilled staff. This required outsourcing to a scanning service bureau. Over the past several years, more reliable and more capable scanners have been introduced that feature more automated capture processes. In particular, the multi- function scanner/printer available in almost every office has led to a model of distributed scanning, where the local office staff processes the documents.
Additionally, the proliferation of mobile devices has led to the need to recognize the importance of mobile devices for data capture as well as content access. Experts see mobile capture as a required option for many processes.
Whatever the method – outsourced document imaging, distributed scanning, or mobile image capture, executives who have gone through the change to paperless processes say that they relied upon experienced service providers for bulk scanning and scanning preprocess, as well as guidance in setting up the paper-free processes.
Importantly, according to an informal survey, 60% of users have seen ROI on their paper-free projects within 12 months; 77% within 18 months. Within our own customer base, we’ve found that the A/P Departments and the HR Departments are the most paper-bound departments, and that they benefit the most quickly from paperless processes. For this reason, we recommend these as the starting place for executives who want to make every image count, and prove ROI on bulk document imaging and electronic processes.