Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses regarded digital transformation as a potential long-term goal. While they recognized the benefits, there wasn’t much urgency to make the transition. Amid the economic uncertainty, lockdown guidelines, and remote work arrangements brought about by the pandemic, digital transformation became a much higher priority for companies looking to maintain business continuity.
One of the most accessible, high-impact digitization projects for businesses to invest in is document digitization. Digitizing paper documents via high-speed, high-capacity scanners with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software enables easier adoption of digital solutions downstream, making it one of the best starting points for implementing a digital transformation strategy. This can be accomplished by investing in your own scanners and handling the digitization in-house, or by partnering with a business process optimization specialist who can absorb some of the upfront costs while still delivering the same long term benefits.
Another key benefit of digitizing records and documents is the ability to enforce stricter security measures with greater confidence. Digital documents can be managed with strict security protocols that simply can’t be applied to physical documents. Access logs, revision histories, and audit trails on digital documents allow your organization to maintain clear visibility into who has viewed or changed documents and when. Physical paper documents can also easily be lost or accidentally destroyed in unexpected events like fires or floods.
While paper may seem thin, storing years’ worth of documents can add up quickly. Considering a standard 4-drawer filing cabinet takes up about 17 square feet, when you include the space necessary to open the drawers, your organization may be devoting a lot more space to paper records than you realize. An organization with 500 employees can save an average of $4k annually in file cabinet real estate space by digitizing paper documents. A digital records management system can provide that storage and bring down the necessary square footage even further.
COVID-19 has many businesses reassessing the importance of enabling their staff to work remotely, a trend that’s likely to continue even after the pandemic has passed. Digitizing documents is an important step in ensuring workers are able to access critical information and for business processes to continue without a hitch, no matter where workers are clocking in.
It’s clear that digitizing paper documents is a worthwhile endeavor. But in order to maximize your digitization process, keep processes running smoothly, and actually capitalize on the efficiency digitization can offer, you need a scanning solution that is up to the job. So, how do you select the optimal high-speed production scanner?
Here are three key points to consider:
When dealing with a major digitization project or working in a field with continual high-volume demand, one of the biggest potential limitations is how quickly a scanner is able to process individual pages. Whether you’re looking to digitize a large backlog of historical documentation, an influx of incoming forms or checks on a daily basis, or both, it is important to optimize your throughput when scanning high volumes of documents.
Put simply, throughput is how many pages can be scanned in a given amount of time. Scanning device manufacturers publish “page per minute” (PPM) ratings based on non-stop feeding of perfect documents. However, these are not real-world conditions. A device’s rated speed may provide some indication of its capabilities, but throughput actually takes into account several additional factors.
You should look for scanners designed to minimize stops and enable operators to quickly recover from them. Stops may occur for various reasons including double feeds or issues related to difficult or damaged documents. The layout of a scanner’s paper-handling system (paper track design) can make a big difference in this area. Even minor restrictions on the paper path can slow down the entire process and lead to bigger problems like jams or accidental double feeds, negatively impacting throughput. Look for devices with an open track for better paper handling. You may also want to look for scanners that have hand feed capability for quick recovery from stops and greater flexibility to scan irregular, damaged, or fragile documents.
It’s also important to consider the variety of documents you’ll be scanning. For example, not every system is optimized to handle check processing at speed. So make sure your scanner has the capabilities to efficiently process any special documents.
One of the most important considerations when selecting a high-speed production scanner is image quality, as it affects the usability of the images in downstream applications. Many believe a higher scanning resolution is the only important factor for better image quality. However, when a document is skewed, folded, or cut off in any other way, resolution doesn’t matter.
The key to maintaining image quality is having a system that automatically checks scanned images, in real-time, against a baseline of pre-defined metrics. This continuous image quality monitoring makes it easier to detect and resolve issues earlier in the scanning process, saving time and reducing costs.
Ease of Use
Even highly-automated technologies are still fundamentally tools to be used by human workers. The gains in speed and efficiency a scanning solution offers can be limited or even negated by a complex or overly-technical user interface that makes it difficult for employees to use. This applies not only to the physical machine itself, which should have intuitive operating features, but also to the software component.
And don’t forget to look for systems that are designed to be easily integrated into existing workstreams from manufacturers that offer on-site training services.
One aspect of the scanning process that many people may overlook is what happens to the paper documents after they’ve been scanned and digitized. When dealing with a high volume and potentially wide variety of documents, a scanner with sorting capabilities provides a great opportunity to separate documents based on specific criteria. Using intelligent classification technologies, some high-end scanners are capable of identifying information on each document as it is scanned and sorting it into separate pockets based on that information. Scanning solutions that offer more customizable pockets therefore can save even more time and labor costs by automating this post-scan process.
Of course, there are other things you might take into consideration when evaluating scanner options. For example, compared to competitors, Exela’s IntelliScan product line has a very low total cost of ownership. It also offers extended support through the product life cycle, and all IntelliScan XDS devices are field upgradeable as your needs evolve over time, maximizing the value of your investment in IntelliScan products.
Digitization also doesn’t necessarily have to happen in-house. Exela offers expert business process outsourcing services at our facilities including document digitization services, giving you yet another flexible option to kickstart your digitization journey.
Exela IntelliScan scanners are used in scanning documents in the top ten US Banks, 14 of the top US insurance companies, the top 5 healthcare payers in the US, and over 60% of Fortune 100.
Find out how IntelliScan’s flexible range of scanners can help you kick start your digitization journey.