Before getting too hung up on software variations or, even, scanner models, we need
to take a step back and ask the question, why ...?
Firstly, let us dispel the myth of the Paperless Office. The Paperless Office is
a ‘pipe dream’. In practical terms, for most organisations, it is an unrealistic
objective both at a cost level + for the level of aggravation it generates in attempting
to persuade staff to completely change their normal office practices. Most of our
clients succeed because they limit themselves to reducing the paper volumes (which
may be up to 80% of the overall filing system).
The scanning process can take a number of forms. The principal first question is
usually “do I want to scan live documents?” or “do I want to simply close-off groups
of documents and archive them away in case I need them?”.
Archival scanning is the easiest solution to implement and manage. It usually consists
of scanning relatively large documents which can be clearly identified with a minimum
of effort. A typical example might be a Lawyer’s closed case files (recording, as
a minimum, the Client Name & a brief Matter Description). The disadvantages of this
approach are that it can be months before paperwork is entered into the system and
that searching for an individual page within the larger document can take a while.
The principal benefits are that the scanner capture process can be much faster and
that, if the material really is archival, you are less likely to need to access it
Live scanning usually requires the routine capture of individual documents either
within the post-room environment (as the paperwork enters the office system) or within
a relatively short period of time after the document has been dealt with. This approach
will allow you to find individual documents more rapidly but at a cost ... The capture
/ indexing process will take much longer than with Archival scanning.
The two most commonly implemented variations of Live scanning are Post-room scanning
and Day scanning:
(1) Post-room scanning is the most demanding approach with agreed procedures being
paramount. Who is going to scan immediately the post arrives? What hardware redundancy
options are available? What if a member of staff is off work? What if a staff member
is not prepared to wait for the document to be scanned?
(2) Day scanning, although a similar process to Post-room scanning, does allow for
some more flexibility within the office environment. It generally allows for the
post to be taken direct to the staff member to be dealt with in the usual manner.
When finished with, the document is then passed onto the scanning department (rather
than placed in the file) for incorporation into the scanning system. Documents can
freely “sit” on the staff members desk whilst still Work-In-Progress. An added benefit
is that any contemporaneous notes in the margins of a letter, for example, can be
included in the scanned image.