Document Scanning

Category: Blog  |

Document scanning is the rather straightforward process of creating a digital document from a paper document, and it’s essential for any document management strategy as organizations still receive paper documents.

Case in point – invoices.  According to Levvel Research, small-to-medium enterprises receive 48% of their invoices on paper.  In the middle-market space (defined as companies with $2 billion to $100 billion in annual revenue), 41% of invoices are presented on paper, while larger enterprises receive 22% of invoices on paper.

Once an invoice is received, 57% of all companies use a manual data entry process to enter the information into their systems.  As a result, AP departments suffer from lost or missing invoices, lack of visibility into outstanding liabilities, lots of discrepancies and exceptions, and an inability to capture early-pay discounts. Document scanning replaces manual entry, improving accuracy and efficiency while reducing cost.

Companies that scan documents typically use one of three strategies to handle the scanning process:

  • Outsourced, where documents are sent to a vendor from conversion from paper to a digital document
  • Centralized, where documents are sent to a single location within the organization for scanning
  • Distributed, where documents are scanned at various locations within the workplace or at branch locations

Each of these present challenges and benefits.  Outsourced scanning requires no staff management overhead, but the documents leave the physical and electronic security of the enterprise, and indexing quality can be an issue.   Centralized document scanning generally yields better indexing, but a single, centralized location can create a bottleneck.   Distributed scanning can alleviate bottlenecks, but quality and indexing may vary from location to location.

Companies that use either a centralized or distributed scanning approach must also consider the capture device.  There are two choices – multifunction printers (also known as all-in-ones) and stand-alone document scanners.  While the options may seem similar, there are some important differences.   These matter as the quality of the scan will impact error rates. Optical character recognition is dependent on scan quality, and poor scans will result in inaccurate data.

Here are some questions to ask when comparing MFPs to stand-alone document scanners, developed by Panasonic:

  • Are you scanning more that 1,000 documents a day?
  • Do you scan documents that have hole punches?
  • Do you need to manually crop documents after they are scanned?
  • Are you scanning mixed-size originals?
  • Can your two-sided documents be scanned in a single pass?
  • Do you need to scan documents other than plain paper documents (for example, ID cards, passports, non-standard size)?
  • Is the scanning device unavailable because it’s being used for copying and printing?

Another consideration is security.   Most stand-alone document scanners do not have a hard drive; MFPs do. Stand-alone document scanners store images in temporary, volatile random-access memory, which is overwritten with each new scan and cleared whenever the device is powered down.  MFPs store scans on hard drives, and like any hard drive, it’s vulnerable to hacking.  In its report Digital Copier Data Security: A Guide for Businesses, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reminds organizations that they are legally responsible for securing sensitive data, including the data stored on copier and MFPs hard drives.

While document scanning might seem to be a simple consideration, like all business processes it needs to be thoroughly considered.   The right strategy and the right equipment, coupled with an enterprise content management platform, can eliminate more than paper – it can reduce cost, improve accuracy and efficiency, and help enable better outcomes.

Stand-alone document scanners offer distinct advantages over multifunction printers.

Stand-alone document scanners offer distinct advantages over multifunction printers.