Why You Shouldn't Scan Documents
It might sound counter-intuitive for a company that calls itself "Paper Alternative Solutions" to publish a blog post telling you not to scan documents, but stick with us for few minutes, and you'll find out why...
Despite the decades-old promise of the "paperless office," there are still plenty of paper documents that are created and distributed. Moreover, the information on that paper -- be it a form, an invoice, a student or patient record, or an unstructured document like a letter -- needs to be captured accurately and made accessible to the people who need to use it.
So you're thinking scanning, right? How else will you capture the information?
The problem is that when organizations scan their documents and try to combine paper and electronic files into a coherent data flow, they generally end up with something more closely resembling an incoherent data flood. So, how do you avoid the flood, and get to the flow?
Hint: It takes a lot more than just dumping scanned data into a repository.
Getting the Data Right
The input from scanners and other sources (like email or bar codes) must be run through a series of steps to get the data into a corporate database, business application or searchable cloud repository where it can be seen and acted upon. Moreover, being able to batch-capture and quality-control are essential to accounts payable departments, schools, healthcare providers, government agencies and any organization that handles large volumes of documents.
Batch-capture and quality-control are just some of the ingredients in the arsenal of tools that Paper Alternative Solutions bring to the table when it's time to go paperless.
More Tools for Paperless Efficiency
The hallmarks of any effective solution are its power and flexibility. For instance, how many of your daily paper-bound tasks could be automated and handled by a software Bot, freeing you for more important activities? There will still be tasks that require human input, but wouldn't it be great if they could be streamlined? There's nothing more frustrating that waiting for someone else to do their part of the task so you can finish your part! (Think waiting for an approval before you can process a check, or getting a sign-off you so can book a flight.)
While low-volume organizations can probably do just fine with paper and a MultiFunction Printer/Scanner to scan it themselves, mid- to high-volume organizations -- or those smaller organizations who aspire to being larger -- usually find it's better to use a professional scanning service. A professional scanning service like Paper Alternative Solutions not only eliminates paper, but also sets up automated workflows and uses software Bots to integrate with an organization's existing applications. This multi-pronged approach enables businesses, government agencies and other organizations to more quickly realize their ROI while driving efficiency and success.
Eliminate Paper at the Source
Some organizations become paperless by never receiving paper on-site. They rely on "full-service" scanning bureaus who function as a mail-room, receiving incoming mail via a post-office box, scanning and capturing the data, then uploading it to a workflow-based cloud repository where the digital files automatically flow from person to person until the work related to the document is complete. Revision control ensures that the current version is always the one you work on. When work on the document is completed, it is retained in the cloud, where it and the entire workflow are available to any authorized to view it.
Finally, at a pre-authorized time the digital document can even be deleted, automatically, so you never have to "clean files" again.
It Takes a Lot More than Simply Scanning
If you've read this far you understand why we say you shouldn't scan your documents. It takes a lot more than scanning! You need to research your options. You need to decide how much workflow automation you need and where it will do the most to improve efficiency. You need a plan!
Here are two downloadable White Papers to help you get started:
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.