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The reasons to migrate to paperless are easy to appreciate. Electronic records are easier to store and find. They can be shared remotely, reduce document storage costs, have increased security, are easy to back up, easy to manage and destroyed as needed. But with rooms full of records the task to convert can seem daunting. Here are some basics to get you started with an office document scanning project.
How Much to Scan?
The first step in the project is to get a scope of the project. A standard file box (10″ x 12″ x15″) will hold around 2,500 pages. A shelf holds around 200 pages per inch. Most projects can be estimated based on a multiple of these averages. This is more accurate that estimating a number of files and than estimating pages per file.
What to Scan
Most businesses don’t choose to scan every piece of paper being stored. Check your records against the company’s retention schedule and shred what is no longer needed. Then prioritize what is used the most and would provide the biggest benefit if digitized.
A common solution is to set a scan date. All documents younger than the scan date are scanned; everything older is only scanned when accessed. This solution dramatically reduces what needs to be digitized while slowly converting older documents on an as-needed basis.
Format of the Scanned Documents
The most common format for electronic records is Portable Document Format (PDF). It is widely used and easy to share and protect. Some other options are Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) and Raw Image File (RAW). The digital images can also be processed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. This will turn the digital pictures into text documents. Once it is a text document you can search for keywords inside of a document.
What is Indexing?
Indexing is the system to organize the documents. It is a digital field applied to the file after it is scanned. This may be “date of record”, “patient name”, “customer number”, or other field that would aid in retrieving documents.
Production scanners are designed to auto feed letter and legal sized documents. They are high speed and scan up to 10,000 pages an hour. Preparation is the process of removing all the staples and bindings. Odd sized documents must be taped onto standard paper. Pictures and color documents must be handled separately. The documents are then re-assembled after scanning.
Electronic Document Management
Once the documents are scanned they need proper storage. It is common to keep them on disks but that dramatically reduces their usefulness. At the minimum, they should be backed up to a remote location. A better solution to storing them is an Electronic Document Management System. This makes the documents easy to find and manages who has access to particular information. The system can be managed in house or via a cloud-computing service.
Cost of Scanning
A document scanning project can be done with existing employees or outsourced to a scanning service. The decision is largely based on the size of the project. For a couple thousand pages or less it is cheaper to do the work in-house.
If you are outsourcing the work then there are steps you can take to reduce the costs. By doing the scanning preparation in-house it will save money. Also be judicious in what you choose to scan. If it is unlikely to be needed in the future it will save money to leave it in a paper format.
When you are ready to start your document scanning project give Record Nations a call at 866.385.3706.