The Scanning Service vs BPO Quandary
This is a tale of two businesses that both have mounds of paper files. They're thinking about converting them to digital files. The mystery is: Do they need a Scanning Service Bureau or a Business Process Outsourcer who does document scanning? What's the difference between the two? How do they decide which is best suited for the job they need done?
An in-depth look at two businesses
- Jack's business is a small, but growing insurance company. Family owned, it's been in business for 20 years, and plans to expand as Jack's sons enter the business with him. One entire room in the office has been designated as the file room and houses 20+ file cabinets full of files. Many of his original customers are still with Jack, so he doesn't want to destroy even the oldest files, but, as his sons join him, he's going to need the office space for them.
Jack's considering having all the old files digitized to save space. A local Scanning Service Bureau has quoted him what he thinks is a pretty good price to scan the documents and return the data to him on disks. This will take care of his short-term need to provide additional office space. Jack has given little thought to office operations beyond getting rid of the paper files.
- Jill's business is a small investment firm. She's built the firm from scratch, and has nearly as many file cabinets as Jack has. Like Jack, Jill's been in business for 20 years. She has two employees and wants to expand even more. Unlike Jack, Jill's children are not interested in becoming part of the firm, so she's grooming a couple of interns to join her in the business. Jill wants to be able to take time away from the office to travel, but doesn't want to give up oversight of operations.
With a long-term vision of a business that will support her in retirement, she wants efficiency, growth, and a paperless office. She wants to ensure that all compliance requirements are met and that as much is automated as possible in order to reduce errors. Jill needs a Business Process Outsourcer.
Both businesses are paper-intensive businesses. Both have plans to reduce paper and to expand their businesses. Both are starting with the idea of eliminating existing paper files.
But, let's consider how each firm plans to approach their mission-critical business processes.
Jack sees an immediate problem: the need for more office space. Jack has found a solution to the immediate problem. But, our analysis shows that by not looking beyond the immediate problem, Jack is foregoing an in-depth review of his current business processes, and the potential opportunity for more growth and lower costs.
He will get images and data on disks from the scanning service. Then, he will need to develop new processes for retrieving that data and making the best use of it. He will need to determine how he will handle newly generated paper files, as well as incoming paper and data from mail and email.
Our experience has shown that companies who simply eliminate paper files without thought to future processes are generally not satisfied with the results of their "paperless" office and end up with a hodge-podge of processes that are a blend of digital and paper files. Often they are less efficient than they were prior to the change.
Jill sees future opportunities: a way to make her company more efficient and productive going forward, while giving her freedom from constant hands-on supervision. She needs more than data and images on disks. She also recognizes the need for improved cost savings and data security, and has read enough to know that outsourcing -- rather than keeping processes in-house may provide just what she needs.
Our experience with companies like Jill's has shown us that once they see how BPO can improve their company's operations with paperless automation and secure 24/7 access to data, they wonder why they didn't make the move to BPO sooner. Of course, ROI makes a really big impression, too.
Jack wanted a cost-effective solution to an immediate problem, with little thought to future requirements. Jill wanted a cost-effective investment in her company's operations and her company's future. Which kind of business-owner are you?