Step 3 - Select how robust does the system need to be.
This step helps you identify variables that will influence your decision when selecting the ideal document imaging system for your business. As with most things in life, you can over buy and you can under buy the system that will best fit your needs. These general variables will help you to target the ideal system for your business.
How many documents on a daily basis will you be scanning? You will also want to get an idea of whether they are single page documents such as a check, bill of lading, or invoice or whether they are multi-page documents. You will also want to know if you have many documents that are two-sided or are they all one-sided documents.
This information will help guide you in your selection of scanners. It will also help you decide if you will do centralized scanning or distributed scanning to distribute the workload.
Do you plan to only scan documents on a day forward basis or do you plan to convert all your old paper files to digital images. The decision to do a back-file conversion and scan into the system all your old documents is usually determined by the frequency by which you need to access the documents. For example, if you never go into these files, you may not want to scan them into the system.
Sometimes this decision is based on other factors such as disaster protection. You may need to retrain these files and live in an area that is susceptible to natural disasters caused by water, wind, or fire. If your business has a high exposure to a natural disaster you might want to scan in your old records so that an electronic copy can be stored in a safe place off-site.
You may also find that storage has become a problem and wish to scan all your old files to eliminate the paper storage costs.
Here is a link to a chart that will help you evaluate how much paper is stored in your old files. http://www.disusa.com/learning-center/storage-requirements.php
This information will help guide you in the selection of scanners. If you have a lot of old files to scan you may want to purchase a scanner with a higher capacity than if you did just day forward scanning.
How many people will need access to documents once they are scanned into the system? You will also want to break them out into different workgroups so that you can identify which users need access to which documents. For example: you may have a document group for the accounting department that only people in the accounting department can access and another group of documents such as job files that everyone can access.
A database document imaging system has a per seat charge so it is important to know how many people need access to the documents because it will affect your costs for the system.
Do you need internet access or will the system only be used on your local area network? If you need internet access it will require additional IT support to maintain the log-in authorizations. It will also require additional setup time and there will be an additional cost for most software programs.
It is important to identify what documents you want to scan into the system. Are they job files, accounting records, or human resource records? At a later date you will need to determine how you want to retrieve these documents. For example, you might want customer name and job number on job files and customer name, date, and invoice number on accounting records.
Are the documents single sided or two sided documents? The quantity of each type will determine if you need a simplex or duplex scanner.
What do the documents look like that you want to scan? Are they in pristine condition, right off the laser printer or are they old and tattered looking. What are the paper sizes because you will need a scanner that is capable of handling that size paper? If they are torn and tattered you may need a flatbed scanner to handle old documents that can't be run through the automatic document feeder.
What are the colors of your documents? To get a good image it may require you to have a lamp in the scanner that will drop out the color so that you can see the image.
Do you have special scanning needs such as scanning photos? Photos may have to be scanned in color while the rest of your documents are scanned in black and white.
All of the answers to these questions will affect the selection of the proper scanner for your business.
What quantities of your documents are structured and what quantity are unstructured documents? A structured document is something like an invoice where all the information is in the same place on each document. An unstructured document is where the location of the information differs from page to page.
It is easier to automate the indexing process for structured documents than it is to automate the process for unstructured documents. Knowing this information will help you determine to what degree you can automate the indexing process.
Do you have any unique needs that the document imaging system has to address? For example, you may have engineering drawings that require a wide format scanner. You may have an operating system issue such as your network uses Mac's instead of PC's.
It is important that you know what your unique needs are as you begin you search for a system because they will narrow your choice of vendors.
Do the majority of your documents originate internally or do they originate outside of your organization? You should also determine how many documents originate both inside and outside your organization.
You will also what to know how you receive the documents that originate outside your organization. Do you receive them by fax, by mail, or by email?
You may want to consider a system that can deal with fax and emails without having to first print them to paper and then scan them into the system.