Scanning Services – Why It Pays to Outsource
There are many reasons why a business decides that it needs to scan paper documents. One of the most comprehensive lists of reasons is provided by the National Archives Federal Records Centers:
- Share and track records easily
- Prepare for disasters
- Respond to audits and discoveries
- Salvage damaged records
- Protect aging paper originals
- Save money and free up office space
- Become more open and transparent
Advantages of Going Paperless
For-profit businesses need to be aware that paperless offices with digitized documents have rapidly become a standard for successful, profitable businesses enterprises. Actually the term “paperless office” doesn’t mean that your business will totally eliminate paper; what it does mean is that you reduce the volume of paper used and replace it with more efficient content and document management.
Going paperless is about improving your business. When you scan your existing paper and reduce your paper-based processes and document volume, you reduce costs, improve efficiency and become more competitive through smarter operations. Digital document storage also reduces information-based vulnerabilities from things like losing employees, lost documents, disasters, or lack of workflow continuity. One source claims that a single lost document can cost $350 to $700 for an average business.
So, it’s easy to see why document scanning and archiving is important. It helps to ensure that no matter what happens, your documents, files, and records will be safe and archived. Moreover, when you choose to incorporate your scanned records into a cloud document management system, you add additional benefits beyond safely archived records. By using a cloud technology, you can incorporate automatic workflows, advanced search capabilities, 24/7 access from any internet connected device, compliance, redundancy and more, and all of the implementation, maintenance and updates are the responsibility of a service provider. This can mean additional cost savings.
Scan to the Cloud
When professional document scanning services and cloud archiving/management services are combined as one “scan-to-the-cloud” offering your company stands to profit even more from going paperless. This is because companies that specialize in scanning to the cloud know how to properly integrate the entire process from sorting the paper files through setting up your personal cloud, with workflows, compliances, search capabilities and security settings specific to your company’s needs. Many scanning services can also ensure that your paper documents are securely stored off-site or shredded, as you desire.
Outsourcing the entire process from A to Z to one scan-to-the-cloud professional service eliminates your need to micro-manage the process, ensures a smooth transition from paper to paperless, and generally takes far less time than doing it yourself.
National Archives Recommendations for Using a Scanning Service*
- *Consider the Cost --Your budget may drive your decision about choosing a service. A quick (though incomplete) way to determine costs is to estimate the number of pages you need scanned, then find out the service’s price per scan. This will give you a rough idea of the cost, but remember that if you’re also using a cloud document management technology provided by the scanning service, your “per page” scanning costs may be considerably less, so getting a formal quote for both the scanning service and the monthly cloud subscription may be a better option. A reliable service will provide you a quote for free.
- Calculate the ROI (added by the author) -- Remember that the ROI is far more important than the initial cost of scanning and the monthly subscription cost of the cloud document management. The ROI compares the cost spent with the amount saved as a result of increased efficiency, more productive personnel, elimination of storage space, and quick access to files. A reliable service can help you calculate the ROI.
- *Scanning Resolution -- At what resolution will the images be scanned? Commercial scanning resolutions can range from 300 dpi to 3000 dpi, depending on the type of material scanned. The higher the dpi, the larger the file, the more storage (on external media, optical or cloud) it requires. If you have mixed media…documents and photographs, for instance, you may require different resolutions and different scanning methods. The goal is the lowest resolution for each media type that will provide clarity, search ability and long-term digital storage.
- *Format -- What file format will your converted materials will be delivered in?
- For photographs, JPEG (.jpg) and TIFF (.tif) are the standard file formats most commercial services use for conversion. Generally, the JPEG format is a long-term consumer-level storage format, and it is also good for viewing software, uploading to photo sharing sites, or emailing. TIFF is generally thought of as a good long-term archival format when file size is not a consideration. TIFF files uncompressed and are larger than JPEGs, and therefore quite large. Again, the larger the file, the more storage space they require.
- Scanned documents can be saved as TIFFs or PDFs (.pdf). Both formats are portable and accessible. PDFs enable smaller file size versus TIFF. There are arguments for the merits of using either for long-term access, so it may come down to which format you’re more familiar working with or have knowledge about.
- *Care and Handling -- How does the company care for and handle your documents and other materials? Do you have confidential or secure information that requires specialized handling? Do you have old, fragile or damaged photos, documents or film? Careless handling during the conversion process could lead to damage of your originals.
- *Shipping and Transportation -- Another thing to think about is if you’ll ship your documents and other materials to the service. If you need to ship, is there a guarantees of safety or security with the shipping service? If this is a concern, look into local scanning services where you can deliver your materials instead of shipping them.
Whatever your reason for scanning your documents, an outsource scanning service can provide you with good perspective on the job that needs to be done.