Your company has decided to go paperless, and now you have to figure out how, when and where to scan all of the file cabinets full of paper files. Not only is there the “how, when, and where” of the issue, but, there’s also the “what.” In addition to the file cabinets, you may also have banker’s boxes full of stored files. How do you choose what’s important? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could wave a magic wand and have the paper gone and digital files in its place?
We don’t have a magic wand, but we do have words of wisdom:
- Converting to digital doesn’t have to disrupt your entire organization, indeed, when done right, you should be able to maintain your normal flow of business.
- Don’t try to do it yourself. Repeat: Don’t try to do it yourself. And, once more: Don’t try to do it yourself.
- Firms that don’t have a plan often trade paper chaos for digital chaos! Have a plan!
You may have picked up on a theme here: Conversion to digital is a huge step. And, while it’s a positive step for nearly any business to take, it requires careful execution. Careful execution is best left to the experts, which is why choosing a scanning service to handle and convert all your paper documents and files is one of the most important parts of your plan.
Google is a great place to start. You do a search, and, wow! Look at all the choices! This is great…or is it? The question is, how do you narrow down the choices so that you can begin to qualify them? One obvious place to start is geographically. If you your business is in New York, you probably don’t want to hire a someone in California. You want to hire a New York scanning service.
While some bulk imaging services have multiple locations, and may be worth looking into, often the smaller, local guys will provide better service in order to win your account. Don’t expect the small guys to do a lot of price cutting. Do remember that price is only one facet of total cost. Service, security, attention to detail, and your piece of mind can go a long way toward justifying a slightly higher price. Remember that you’re talking about your livelihood, your business records, and your customers’ information. Bulk scanning shouldn’t mean cut-rate.
Once you’ve targeted two or three local scanning and imaging shops, it’s time to make a few phone calls. While email is great, and filling out forms for preliminary information is advised, when you’re ready to get serious, nothing beats a telephone inquiry. This initial contact can give you a lot of insight into how the firm does their business. Was the call answered promptly? Were you transferred quickly to someone who could respond knowledgeably to your questions? Was the telephone encounter professional, courteous, and not rushed? If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then that service has cleared your first qualifying hurdle.
Now the tests get harder. Remember our first words of wisdom? Going digital shouldn’t disrupt your entire organization. Ask the scanning provider what they recommend as a process for scanning your paper files. It’s always a plus if they’ve had experience with businesses that are similar to yours. That way they can spend less time putting together an action plan. But, don’t rule out anyone yet. Sometimes the guy who hasn’t worked with a business like yours before can be more innovative than the one who has a pre-determined way of doing things.
Don’t forget to ask what your employees will have to do. Do you need to pack up the file boxes? Do you need to take papers out of file folders? What about staples and paper clips? If you’re disposing of the files after they’re scanned, can the service shred and dispose of the paper? The more they can do for you, the less disruption your office will have.
Often after interviewing a couple of scanning services, business owners will conclude that they could buy a scanner and have one of their employees scan “when they have down time.” Which brings us to our second words of wisdom: Don’t do it yourself. Bulk document scanning is not a DIY project.
Don’t Do It Yourself
No matter how good your business is at what it does, it doesn’t do bulk scanning. There are time-saving, error reducing tricks that good scanning service bureaus know and use daily. It’ll take your employees at least twice as long to do a job half as good. Trust us on this. We’ve seen it time and time again…when we get called to fix the problems created by a do-it-ourselves decision.
Paper Chaos Transformed – to Digital Chaos
What to do with the files once they’re digital is something that is often neglected. Just having the files on a thumb drive or CD is not enough. Uploading them to your server doesn’t mean they’ll be easy to find. How will you handle incoming paper going forward? How will you incorporate new digital files into the system? What’s your plan?
You Need a Plan
Now we’re at the final, and possibly most important aspect of choosing a company to do bulk document scanning for you. Can they help you with a digital plan? Do they offer a digital document management solution? Or are they going to leave you on your own to muddle through your newly digitized files. Choose a company that can offer you a proven document management solution that they support; let them upload your digital files; enlist them to solve the incoming paper problem. The right scanning partner and the right digital document management solution might just help make your company better, faster, more efficient and more profitable.