Document Scanning

A Complete Guide for Businesses

  
Chapter I

Introduction

In this day and age, information moves faster than ever. Access to social media, instant messaging services, and email keeps us constantly connected to society. However, most industrial sectors aren’t keeping up with technology trends.

Many industries, such as banking, real estate, education, and the government, rely heavily on paper documents to run their daily operations, which keeps them from performing at their fullest potential. This dependence on paper documents slows progress and hinders businesses from keeping up with employment trends like remote work.

Hiring a professional document scanning service is an important first step for businesses going paperless to increase their efficiency and organization. These services provide large-scale document digitization to remove the burden of paper for companies. With optical character recognition (OCR) technology and digital imaging software powered by artificial intelligence, high-quality scanning services transform physical copies of documents into convenient digital files. This scanning process opens possibilities for increased business efficiency, storage space, and improved access to records.

When combined with data capture technologies such as eForms and eSignature software, scanned images and digital files become powerful tools for businesses to reduce their dependence on paper. Companies can skip the physical paper process altogether instead of printing a form from the computer, signing it, and scanning it back into the system.

As the world shifts towards electronic mediums, converting paper files to virtual documents will no longer be something industries do out of convenience—it will be a necessity. Making the switch now can boost an organization’s current performance and prepare it for the inevitable paperless future.

  
Chapter II

What is Document Scanning?

The simplest definition of document scanning is converting a paper document into a digital file using a document scanner. In the past, scanners were limited in how they worked and only created cumbersome image files that did not analyze documents or recognize text. Now, scanners use optical character recognition (OCR) technology, which makes searching the text of scanned files possible.

Document scanners have increased the amount of data they convert and have become incredibly fast. Generally, it takes around 30 seconds to quickly scan a document per side—in the past, scanning a single page took minutes. This speed allows scanning services to create digital versions of documents faster than ever before. On average, a scanning service can process over 100 pages per scanner per hour. Scanning companies can charge much less than how much it costs organizations to store and retrieve physical files.

Another significant part of the scanning process is the data management system that stores the files once the initial scanning process is complete. These systems work like a massive digital filing cabinet—they hold, organize, and secure every scanned multiple file in storage. There’s no comparison between a digital filing system and a physical one. Data management systems take up no physical room in their owner’s office, files are easily accessible with a simple search, and the storage space is only limited by the amount of data the organization wants to spend on accessible memory.

Using document scanning processes and digital files is convenient and easily accessible, and it gives businesses opportunities to be more flexible with remote work. Also, considering the cost of working with physical files and the effect paper has on the world outside of the office, switching to a paperless system makes sense.

  
Chapter III

The Drive for Businesses to Scan Their Documents

On average, one office worker goes through nearly 10,000 sheets of paper a year. In today’s digital world, that's an astronomical amount. And worst of all, a significant amount of that paper is unused. The statistics surrounding paper waste are staggering:

  • Average Americans use 700 pounds of paper per person
  • 45% of paper documents printed in offices are thrown away by the end of the day
  • 20% of printed papers never leave the print tray
  • Paper is the most common material found in landfills, according to an EPA study

In addition to the environmental impact, paper documents are extremely costly for organizations. When factoring in the initial cost of paper, the time employees spend printing and locating physical copies, and the area needed for filing systems, the financial cost of paper is unbelievable. Here are more stats:

  • Businesses in the United States waste over $120 billion annually on printed forms that are outdated within three months
  • Office workers claim to spend nearly 40% of their time at work looking for paper files
  • A single filing cabinet costs $1,500 per year to have in an office after considering the amount of space it occupies
  • It takes 25 hours to recreate a lost document

After understanding the hidden cost of paper, it's easy to see that converting to digital files saves businesses time and money while reducing their ultimate impact on the environment. Digital documents are also inherently more secure because natural disasters cannot destroy the data in cloud storage, which is an invaluable feature. After all, 90% of all business data is stored in documents, and 70% of businesses would fail within three weeks if a fire or flood were to destroy their paper documents.

   
Chapter IV

How it Works

Partnering with a professional scanning provider is the most affordable way to convert legacy documents and other essential physical copies into digital files for several reasons. Three significant advantages of hiring this type of service include:

  • There's no need to purchase and maintain expensive scanning equipment
  • The cost of designating an employee position for file conversion is costly
  • Scanning services offer secure storage of physical copies for compliance purposes

This process is also simple when working with a scanning service. In many cases, the only step of the process businesses need to worry about is preparing the files for collection. Here's how the typical process works:

  • Businesses prepare files for collection by boxing the paper documents the scanning service needs to convert.
  • The scanning service then travels to the client, safely loads the documents into a vehicle, and transports the physical copies to their secure scanning facility.
  • Upon arrival, a scanning technician turns the paper documents into digital files using optical character recognition (OCR) scanners, text recognition, and artificial intelligence-powered data capture software, creating searchable and interactive digital documents.
  • After scanning the physical copies, the scanning service compiles the multiple files into a comprehensive document management system that stores, organizes, and secures the digital files.
  • Following the creation of the document management system, the scanning provider either shreds, stores, or returns the physical copies in compliance with state and federal legacy document regulations.

Working with an off-site scanning service can save businesses time and money, all while reducing their environmental impact. This investment also reduces the time employees spend looking for misplaced files and searching through filing cabinets to locate a document they need.

   
Chapter V

Document Scanning Applications

Each business has unique needs, influenced by size, industry, and operational requirements. This diversity shapes the need for professional scanning services. Consider a retail chain with multiple locations; it often accumulates a large volume of historical sales records in paper form, needing a robust document scanning strategy. On the other hand, a small consulting firm might have a smaller volume of paperwork, tailored for a more streamlined scanning approach.

Business Documents

Small to medium businesses may not have as many legacy files or printed documents as a larger corporation, but that doesn’t mean hiring professional business document scanning services is unnecessary. Paper documents can quickly stack up for even the smallest business, causing misplaced invoices, mismanaged customer accounts, and wasted time looking for the proper folder in a filing cabinet. Working with a scanning service simplifies the office space of small to medium-sized businesses by providing:

  • Digital copies of customer accounts, tax documents, and business-specific documents in PDF files or another format of your choosing
  • A document management system that makes finding the correct data simple with quality scans that extract text into multiple pages of digitized files
  • Physical storage options to keep businesses in compliance with federal and state legacy document regulations

Instead of wasting time with paper documents, businesses can improve productivity and efficiency by relying on a business document scanning service. Working with a scanning service can also enhance a small to medium business’s office space by removing the need for bulky filing cabinets and digitally upgrading the document management system.

Enterprise Documents

Businesses with multiple locations or large corporations rely on documents to keep the business running smoothly. From busy mailrooms to printers that never quit running, larger organizations need a better way to handle their physical records. A professional scanning services company can change how corporations view files by centralizing filing systems that keep the entire workforce on the same page. Professional scanning providers offer the following services for enterprises:

  • Enterprise content management (ECM) systems that consolidate and centralize the organization’s filing system
  • Digital mailroom solutions to automate mailroom processes and reduce the need for physical mailrooms
  • Digitized and interactive forms that can be updated at will to prevent obsolescence 

Working with a well-equipped scanning service empowers organizations with the tools to improve their business and reduce their environmental impact on the world. Additionally, enterprise document scanning systems allow organizations to increase flexibility and remote work opportunities because their workforce can access files and share scans anywhere.

Large-Format Documents

Businesses in the manufacturing, construction, engineering, and architecture industries have unique difficulties with physical documents. Many blueprints and technical drawings are produced on oversized documents because of the need for more room on the paper to keep measurements to scale. Though these documents are suitable for technical purposes, they can be challenging to work with in the field. To offset this problem, document scanning for construction services can provide the following solutions:

  • High-resolution digital copies that retain the scale of the original technical drawing while offering the flexibility to crop and rotate views for detailed analysis
  • Easily shareable virtual documents that keep the entire team on the same page
  • Physical storage options for original copies of blueprints and large-scale physical drawings to prevent damage

Instead of finding enough space to unroll large blueprint documents and technical drawings, virtual versions allow workers to easily read and use large-format documents on any compatible electronic device. These digital copies keep team members on the same page and reduce the possibility of damaging the original document.

Financial Documents 

Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions rely on documents for most business transactions. Account applications, loan services, and mortgage contracts are typically handled in person and on paper. Using physical copies risks damage, increases the probability of mishandled information, and restricts mobile client interaction. Financial Document Scanning Services offer solutions for costly, time-consuming paper documents.

  • Digitized account applications, loan paperwork, and mortgage contracts that can be virtually reviewed and filled out
  • A centralized document management system that makes client file maintenance and information acquisition much easier
  • Safe and secure legacy document storage that protects sensitive client information and prevents loss

Utilizing financial document scanning services puts financial institutions in a better position to improve efficiency and overall client happiness. Plus, working with a professional scanning provider, like one of DocCapture's partners, frees up valuable space previously occupied by filing cabinets and increases the security of client documents.

Mortgage Documents

Mortgage application files average around 500 pages apiece, making mortgage providers a perfect candidate for scanning services.When filing for a mortgage, the overwhelming amount of paperwork is an intimidating and time-consuming process. Mortgage document scanning service providers can simplify the mortgage process for both clients and providers by removing paper from the equation. Scanning services offer the following solutions for the mortgage industry:

  • Digitized, interactive mortgage documents, including applications and contracts
  • Conveniently organized and easily accessible legacy files via an easy-to-use document management system
  • Safe and secure storage of physical legacy documents that protects sensitive client information and prevents loss 

When mortgage providers switch from physical to digital documents, they reduce their impact on the world around them, improve efficiency, and increase workplace flexibility. The simple step of working with a professional mortgage document scanning service also makes a more convenient application and closing process possible with digitized and electronically signable documents.

Loan Documents

Relying on paper documents to handle loan applications and contracts is a time-consuming and tedious process. However, most financial institutions and loan providers still use paper for nearly all processes. A dependence on paper runs the risk of incorrectly completed applications, misplaced documents, and increased paper waste. Hiring a scanning service can solve problems caused by paper with the following solutions:

  • Virtual and electronically signable business cards, loan applications, and contract forms
  • A convenient digital document management system that prevents file loss and misplacement
  • Secure storage for physical copies that keeps client information safe

Partnering with a scanning service opens up new possibilities for loan providers. With digital documents, clients can apply and fill out loan forms without being physically present at the loan office. In turn, loan service providers benefit from increased opportunities to reach more clients while reducing paper waste and increasing efficiency with a digital document management system.

HR Documents

Incident forms, benefits information, and other employee files require extensive information and must be handled carefully. When businesses rely on paper to run the human resources department, the risk of leaking sensitive information is high. Misfiled and lost documents can also cause serious problems for HR departments, costing corporations time and money. Working with a scanning service can improve HR departments by providing digital solutions for paper problems.

  • Secure digital file storage and a simple-to-use employee database via a virtual document management system
  • Convenient digital forms with electronically signable documents that make tax information, benefits packages, and employee records easier to maintain
  • Safe and secure physical storage for legacy documents that maintain compliance with state and federal regulations

Partnering with a document scanning service allows human resources to focus more on the human side of their jobs and less on the paperwork that constantly surrounds them. Secure digital files and off-site document storage also remove the risk of personal data leaks and misfiled employee information. A digital human resources department is a more efficient office that can improve the corporate work culture.

Medical Records

Healthcare providers have enough on their plate without constantly printing and updating patient records. Paper patient charts are easily misfiled, and switching patient information is a real possibility when dealing with paper documents. Having the wrong chart when visiting patients can result in severe issues like administering improper medications, performing incorrect procedures, or misdiagnosing patients, which also costs medical facilities time and money. Scanning medical records can help prevent these problems by providing a paperless system for hospitals, private practice doctors, and larger medical organizations. Using scanning services offers the following solutions for paper:

  • Digital patient charts that immediately update across the system when new information is added
  • A centralized patient database powered by an easy-to-use document management system
  • Secure, off-site storage options that eliminate the need for bulky filing cabinets
  • Scanning medical records into an EMR to streamline access and security

Scanning providers offer HIPAA-compliant services for healthcare providers and prioritize patient privacy when converting medical documents. Additionally, facilities can avoid mishandling patient files with convenient digital copies that automatically update across the system. This network of files allows medical providers to decrease mistakes and increase patient satisfaction.

Student and Other Education Records

Colleges, private schools, and public school districts must store and maintain student documents for an extended period—sometimes indefinitely. These requirements force educational institutions to spend a large portion of their budget on storing and maintaining student records. The price of paper documents keeps learning establishments from reaching their full potential when educating students. Hiring a scanning service can reduce costs, free up storage space, and help schools perform better by providing the following services:

  • High-quality digital documents and images that make student records like transcripts and financial information easier to access and share when necessary
  • An easy-to-use digital document management system that prevents file loss and misplacement
  • Safe and secure storage for legacy documents that comply with state and federal regulations for student records

Student record scanning services remove the burden of paper files from educational establishments by reducing costs, opening storage space, and increasing document organization. As a result, educators can spend more time focused on the students and less time worrying about keeping student records in order.

Accounts Payable Information 

Tracking paper receipts, customer information, and invoices is challenging for accounts payable departments. Working with physical copies of various documents increases the chance of disorganized and mishandled information. Eventually, an unorganized accounts payable department will hurt a company’s bottom line because of improperly calculated business expenses and invoices. Accounts payable document scanning services help AP departments in the following ways:

  • Searchable digital copies of receipts, invoices, and other vital documents—which improves the efficiency of the invoicing process
  • Document management solutions that sync with accounting software and simplify invoices with automated processes
  • Secure off-site file storage that frees office space and prevents file loss

Scanning services allow accounts payable departments to run smoothly by keeping receipts, client information, and invoices in the same place. Ultimately, switching to a paperless AP department improves business productivity and reduces paper waste by creating virtual invoices and client documents.

Government Records

Using paper documents in government offices decreases efficiency and cuts into the budget, costing taxpayers money. However, forms and documents are necessary to keep local and state governments running correctly. Everything from marriage certificates to recreational permits is generally created in paper form, allowing sensitive information to be lost, misfiled, or destroyed. Large-scale scanning services can provide relief to governments by offering paperless solutions for government documents:

  • An easy-to-use centralized document management system that makes it possible for everyone in the government organization to access the files they need
  • Searchable archived files and interactive digital forms that reduce the need for future paper use
  • Safe and secure transport and long-term filing services that protect sensitive and confidential documents

Government departments can better serve their constituents when they partner with scanning services. Improved file management, reduced paper waste, and the use of digital forms with the option of electronic signatures create opportunities for enhanced government efficiency and productivity. Additionally, governments no longer need to worry about the cost of maintaining physical archives after converting to paperless documents.

   
Chapter VI

The Digital Mailroom

The mailroom is the hub of any office—it controls the flow of information between vendors, clients, and other partnering businesses. Manually delivering the mail throughout offices can cause delays, misdelivered documents, or lost mail—a company's efficiency and communication struggle when the mail isn’t delivered correctly. Digital mailrooms transform mail from a possible friction point into a valuable resource that improves organizational workflow.

Instead of relying on physical mail delivery, digital mailroom services gather physical mail and transform it into a searchable document. These services use robotic process automation to scan paper mail copies and prioritize their importance based on artificially intelligent learning algorithms.

Here is a high-level look at how the digital mailroom process works:

  • First, the mailroom service travels to their client companies' offices and P.O. boxes to collect the incoming mail.
  • The service then transports the physical mail to a secure sorting facility to organize and digitize the paper documents.
  • As the mail is scanned, it is sorted via robotic process automation and software powered by artificial intelligence.
  • The digital documents are then processed and delivered to the proper recipient via digital mail software of the client’s choosing.

Switching to digital mailroom services gives a company’s workforce the flexibility to receive mail anywhere in the world, which is incredibly beneficial for companies with remote employees. These services also promote smoother business processes through efficient delivery and mail processing.

   
Chapter VII

The High-Volume Process of Scanning Documents

The key to scanning services providing affordable paperless options for industries is handling the scanning process in bulk. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a document scanner is a device that sits on a desktop and slowly converts individual pages into digital files on the attached computer. In reality, bulk document scanners are large pieces of equipment that make short work, quickly scanning thousands of documents in a short time.

Industrial scanners also gather information in various ways, allowing a service to provide options for multiple sizes of documents and images. In addition to adapting to size differences, industrial scanners can recognize how documents must be transferred into a digital format. Scanners with optical character recognition (OCR) technology—the industry-leading standard—can analyze machine-printed text on physical documents during the capture process. This technology makes it possible for digital records to be searchable, interactive virtual copies of the original paper file.

High-volume document scanning is similar to a typical scanner's standard document capture process, except it happens on a much larger scale. On average, one industrial scanner can process over 100 pages worth of documents within an hour. After the capture stage is complete, the scanning services organize the files into a digital document management system. This system keeps a company’s digital files centralized and allows businesses to access virtual documents easily.

   
Chapter VIII

Scanning Confidential Documents

When companies work with a document scanning service, they can ensure that confidential information is handled properly. Scanning services adhere to state and federal regulations regarding the confidentiality of client documents. Before companies agree to work with the scanning service, a confidentiality agreement that defines how the service will treat the client’s information must be signed.

Confidentiality agreements signed by both parties detail how the information will be processed and who will be responsible for making the copies at the scanning facility. Additionally, the agreement details other protections, such as non-disclosure agreements, file handling, and storage protocols, as well as how possible security incidents are addressed within the company. These steps provide transparency for the client on how the documents will be regulated and the protocol for potential security breaches.

In addition to security measures for confidential physical documents, scanning services also take precautions to protect the digital files once they are created. Document scanning services implement state-of-the-art firewalls and digital security protocols to protect client documents. Additionally, scanning providers keep their facilities secure with a high level of physical security, including camera systems, code-protected doors, and restricted access areas within the facility.

   
Chapter IX

Pricing for Document Scanning Services

The cost of maintaining paper documents is incredibly high, and even though the technology to move to a paperless system is available, many corporations are using more paper than ever. Because most companies choose to avoid switching to paperless systems, it’s easy to think that scanning services are just too expensive. However, the truth is that hiring a scanning service and making the switch from physical documents to digital files costs significantly less than maintaining traditional filing systems.

The price of hiring a document scanning service differs depending on a few variables, including:

  • Job size—how many physical documents need to be scanned, and how many locations need documents collected
  • File requirements—what types of files the paper documents are going to be converted into
  • Document management system—different management can cost different amounts, which affects the overall pricing
  • Physical document storage—jobs with more physical document retention will cost the client storage fees
After considering all the factors that affect pricing, hiring a document scanning company usually costs between $0.08 and $0.15 per page. Depending on the amount of space files occupy in a client’s office, the labor cost for employees to manage the files, and the initial cost of printing supplies, scanning services can save organizations a significant amount of money.
   
Chapter X

Glossary of Document Scanning Terms

Document Scanning: The process of using hardware to convert a paper document into a digital file.

Document Imaging: The digital image created by the capture of paper documents. These digital files are read by computers in file formats such as .JPG, .TIFF, or .PNG. Other document imaging processes include fax and photocopied scan-to-email formats.

Document Conversion: The process used to convert a physical file into a digital format or change a digital file from one format to another. The filename extension indicates the new file type. One example is converting a Microsoft Word file (.DOCX) into a .PDF file.

OCR: Optical character recognition (OCR) is the software that converts physical copies of files into digital documents that text editing software can recognize.

Indexing: Sorting digital files according to their format or title, allowing instant and convenient data retrieval. The process that makes data management systems easy to navigate.

Business Process Automation: Replacing manual and automated processes to make businesses more efficient. Many menial tasks can be automated rather than having an employee perform repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

Archiving: Transferring documents or images that are used infrequently into storage as needed.

Cloud Storage: A remote server that securely stores data via the internet instead of on-site servers. This storage process makes it possible to access data remotely rather than using a computer in an office.

JPG: JPG, or JPEG, stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. This file type is preferred for saving and sharing photographs online.

TIFF: The acronym TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format. This image format is most commonly used in medical imaging, desktop publishing, and sharing documents via fax and email because there is no loss in quality.

PDF: PDF, or Portable Document Format, is a file format developed by Adobe to replicate an exact electronic version of its printed counterpart. PDF files are a standardized document format that does not rely on a particular platform to be read, which means no program is necessary to open and read the file.

Contributors:

Kevin-Headshot

Kevin D'Arcy

Topic Specialist

Sources:

  1. The True Cost of Keeping Paper Documents: Optix by Mindwrap Blog 
  2. A Bid for the Paperless Office: Facts & Stats on Paper Usage: Formstack
  3. Going Paperless: A Journey Worth Taking: Forbes
  4. The Average Mortgage Application File Is Now 500 Pages Long: The Truth About Mortgage
  5. How the Document Scanning Process Works in 10 Simple Steps: Coordinated Blog
  6. Are Document Scanning Services Confidential?: MES Blog
  7. How much does it cost to scan a box of records?: Revolution Data Systems Blog
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