Regardless of which sector you work in, your business or organisation undoubtedly handles lots of documents every day. Storing, retrieving or accessing data on all those documents is difficult enough for internal communications but when you add in official customer accounts and employee related documents, the task becomes mammoth. Document Scanning Companies can help.
The demands of the modern business environment mean that document management often falls by the wayside as firms run out of storage space and archiving and indexing systems erode to the point of chaos.
Further complications are added by data protection, accounting and employment law legislation which require certain documents to be stored securely for a set number of years.
Luckily modern technology affords a neat solution. Scanning documents and converting them into digital form not only makes archiving, indexing and retrieving specific documents a quick and simple task but also allows you to back up documents off-site for added security and compliance.
This Buyer's Guide is intended as an introduction to document scanning companies which will give you the confidence to pick the best supplier for your document management needs.
The Benefits of Document Scanning
Whether you require one-off scanning of a batch of documents or a more permanent solution where new documents are automatically scanned and added to your computer network, the benefits of document scanning are numerous:
- Storage – Once documents are converted into computer images and saved on your network the originals can be confidently destroyed. This eliminates the need for large document storage areas and shelving systems.
- Security – Digitally stored documents can easily be backed up and copies stored off-site to ensure compliance with Data Protection or other legislation.
- Archiving and Indexing – Computer software can be used to efficiently store your data in a systematic and organised way.
- Retrieval and Response Times – Documents are available to users across your organisation within seconds. Search for document titles or even for words contained within the documents.
- Data Protection – As well as the ability to back-up you can also lock certain documents or certain types of document to particular users or classes of users. This helps keep confidential data safe and your company compliant.
- Combine Mail and Email – Incoming mail can be scanned as a matter of course and sent to the recipient by email, doing away with the need for juggling online and offline documents.
Document Scanning Companies: The Options
Suppliers in this field normally offer a range of services from one-off scanning of a job lot of documents to a fully hosted document management solution. Here are some key options that you might want to investigate:
- One-off Scanning
Anything from one archive box of documents (about 3,000 images) upwards is suitable for a document scanning company. The documents can be sent by courier or, if a much larger quantity, collected or scanned at your premises. The scanned files can be labelled systematically and sent to you on disk or via a secure online file transfer.
- Optical Character Recognition
Scanning with OCR converts scanned typewritten paper documents into digital text documents (Word docs, pdf files, txt files etc). This way you can search within scanned documents for particular words or copy and paste the text for use in other programs. The accuracy of OCR software varies and sometimes requires human review – especially with older documents, photocopies or where small or unusual fonts are used.
- Confidential Document Destruction
Boxes of documents can be destroyed safely and confidentially after scanning with a certificate of destruction for Data Protection compliance. Careful tracking of documents through the scanning process ensures that the only documents shredded are those you specifically request be destroyed.
- Scan on Demand
Rather than trying to scan your whole extended archive in one go you can send it to a document management company for secure storage. They’ll then scan each item as you request it for retrieval and email it to you as well as adding it to your digital archive.
- Digital Mailroom
Incoming mail can be redirected for scanning, emailed to relevant recipients and even added to a CRM system. This method allows high volumes of incoming mail to be accurately and efficiently routed and prioritised.
- Hosted Document Management
Many suppliers offer a fully integrated system that moves all your document management online. Specially designed software allows for fast and accurate search and retrieval of documents, editing and exporting to other programs. Permissions can be set to manage sensitive or confidential documents, documents can be locked to editing and separate versions created and tracked for collaborative document creation. Such a software system also allows for complete audit trails that show who’s accessed a particular document, what actions were taken and when.
A hosted document management system allows for back up of your archive along with all your other important data. Once your entire archive has been scanned to the system, compatible scanning equipment can be provided to add new documents as and when required or you can continue to send them to the document scanning company.
Compare Document Scanning Companies
When choosing a document scanning company there are several factors beside price which need careful consideration. Most of these centre on the availability and security of your documents:
- Tracking – When sending a large set of documents to an outside company you need to know that they’re being accurately labelled and tracked through the process. Getting the wrong documents back or the right documents in the wrong order could be costly and time consuming to correct.
- Logistics – While your documents are being transported, indexed and scanned they’ll be unavailable to you. If continuity is important to your business you’ll want this turnaround to be as short as possible. Distance from the supplier and means of transport (mail, courier, dedicated van) will figure.
- Data security – If the document scanning company is providing backup for your documents, how do they in turn backup their own data? What measures are in place to protect confidential information? This could be important for Data Protection compliance.
- Accuracy – If you’re using OCR scanning is this human reviewed for accuracy or can you request re-scans when errors are spotted?
A company with high volumes of documents to manage can greatly benefit from the services provided by document scanning companies. We recommend gathering quotes from as many suppliers as possible to accurately price the current market and make sure you’re getting the right service to match your needs. Once you’ve found the right company you can say goodbye to large document storage rooms, lost paperwork and, perhaps most importantly, paper cuts!
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