Selecting the right scanning solution is like finding the right shoes

Hands on a copy machine

I like to compare finding the right scanning solution to finding the perfect pair of shoes. Why? When you go looking for a new pair of shoes, you already know where you’ll need to wear them, for what activities you’ll need them, and how often you’ll wear them.

If you’re a parent that shops for your kid’s shoes, you know you won’t necessarily be buying them the same shoes you purchased for yourself. Some activities, like a beach barbecue, might call for sandals or flip flops. But even then, not everyone would be able to wear them because we all have our own physical requirements and preferences.

One size does not fit all, right?

One solution – for all your different needs

Finding the perfect scanning solution presents the same problems. Often, an organization will look for a single content capture solution to implement at all of their scanning locations.

However, it’s more important to evaluate the needs and requirements of each area, and the documents you need to capture there, before selecting the right solution for each location. It’s likely that different locations and document types will have different needs and require different scanning solutions.

It’s necessary – and very important – to realize that not every location needs the same solution. This is why you need a true enterprise platform that offers many on-ramps for capture!

It’s rare that I discuss the value of scanning documents. Just like shoes, people seem to understand the basic value of these solutions already. That’s good, because that leaves more time to focus on how we can find the right solutions – which is all important, if they’re to be successful!

So how do we find that best scanning solution for each location? We start by asking ourselves three very important questions:

  1. How many documents do you need to scan?

That’s right – how many overall documents, not how many pages. The amount of pages is something we’ll look at when we talk about the hardware in our third question.

Whether you need batch scanning of documents at once or just a few documents at a time makes a big difference. These requirements will drive what products you should explore.  Locations that receive thousands of documents at a time have very different scanning requirements and will require a different scanning interface than those locations that receive a single document or packet of related documents. I would simply restrict this answer to batch scanning or ad-hoc scanning to get started.

  1. How will you classify and index the documents, and who will own that process?

Remember, you want to get business critical documents into your system as quickly as possible.  So you should capture them electronically from wherever they arrive in the organization.

And, the person or department scanning the documents doesn’t necessarily have to index them. You may be able to automate the classification and data extraction after they are scanned, or even have another group be responsible for any follow-up indexing or processing activities. You should use automated capture processes like bar code recognition and OCR scanning for data extraction wherever it’s possible and when it makes sense, based on the document content and volume.

  1. What hardware is best suited for this scanning activity?

Okay, you knew we would get to hardware, but notice it’s no longer our first question. That’s because our answers for the first two questions will often dictate the hardware that we need, and frankly the hardware is no longer the expensive equipment that was required say 20 years ago.

Much content capture can now be performed using desktop scanners or multi-function printers. This hardware is probably already in your office, and other employees are using it for other processes!

The volume of pages also comes into play when answering this third question, along with vendor relationships, and recommendations from other users. So ask around to see what other people are already using and in what capacity.

Answering these three simple questions will make selecting your scanning solution much easier and your project much more successful.

In fact, your answers, based on asking the right people the right questions, will make your selection as easy as finding that perfect pair of comfortably fitting shoes!

Ray Gerwig

Ray Gerwig

Ray Gerwig is a Senior Product Evangelist for capture products at Hyland. Ray started with Hyland 15 years ago and has covered capture ever since. Prior to joining Hyland, Ray was a U.S. Marine Corps Officer and also worked as a Customer Service Supervisor and IT Project Manager for a medical equipment manufacturer.

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