Here’s a good way to think about document imaging. Picture all those boxes of historical archives shoved into your company’s warehouse (or storage closet in marketing or empty office down the hall). The one filled with hundreds of documents, papers, snapshots, financial reports – some tattered, others faded, a lot of it duplicate, many pieces unidentifiable.
Imagine a request from your CEO to find a specific item among that wreckage: the script for a speech delivered by the previous CEO, we'll call him Alan Hinkle, at a charitable event in Apple Valley during the summer of 1977. She needs that document – and she needs it now.
Yikes! You’re in for an afternoon of hunting, fishing and hoping the document exists.
Now imagine if all of those archives were stored electronically, tagged with keywords (speech, Alan, Apple Valley, 1977), easily searchable and quickly shareable. You could find and forward that script to your CEO in seconds.
Yes! Now you’re a hero.
That’s the power of document imaging.
“Document imaging encompasses all of the processes by which paper documents are converted into electronic format, for both business processing purposes, as well as long term storage,” says Steve Reed, development manager, capture and imaging applications, for Hyland Software. “Converting documents into electronic format allows for multiple persons within an organisation to view and make decisions concurrently, makes these documents retrievable from anywhere, anytime, and drastically reduces the amount of physical storage space required to maintain these documents.”
Getting started with a document imaging solution is easy, but there are a few questions an organisation should answer before it selects a solution. Reed suggests the following:
It’s a daunting list, but one that is easily conquered. And a good software solution provider like Hyland will take the time to help you answer the questions and customise a solution that fits your business needs and corporate goals. To make it even easier, great software solutions like Hyland’s OnBase support all industry-standard scanning hardware and related software add-ons. OnBase also provides modules that allow for either centralised capture, distributed capture, or any combination of both.
A solid document imaging solution provides benefits to employees at every level, whether it’s the facilities manager who no longer has to find storage space for filing cabinets, the clerks who no longer have to search for documents by hand, the department managers who can instantly see items that require approval, or the CFO who can perform an audit on every document processed last month without leaving his or her office.
It also allows an organisation to start small and grow the solution organically, as it best fits the company and its employees.
“Implementing a solution one department at a time is often a good way to ease an organisation into document imaging,” explains Reed. “This allows for identification of internal bottlenecks, which are corrected in the capture and classification process, as well as a means to formulate best practices based on unique business processes.”
As for which department to start with, that depends entirely on the type of business. Many organisations choose to start with accounts payable/accounts receivable, human resources, or the mailroom.