Plan Before You Scan – Document Scanning the Smart Way

Document scanning

Once your organization has committed to digitizing your processes, it seems the next logical step would be to purchase a scanner and get to work scanning all of your paper. Perhaps a document management software is an additional purchase you’d consider, to solve all of your paper based problems. This approach has led to many wasted dollars and hours over the last ten years. Digitizing processes doesn’t mean document scanning.

First, you must understand why you are pursuing a document scanning solution. It isn’t because you hate paper. That unproductive view will only lead to a costly battle that never ends, so long as you don’t kill the paper-creating beast. We transition to digital processes to improve workflow efficiencies. Because most information is born digitally now, it is wasteful to print and store in physical form, only to convert it back when documents are needed. If you focus on improving processes, you’ll wait to purchase your hardware and software until you understand how your workflows must change to accommodate your vision for the end result of a more efficient organization.

Second, you need to ensure  your vision for an end result is shared by your entire team. We call this Information Governance. Those who only try to impact their organization’s dependence on paper in their own silo will perpetually be disappointed as other business functions disrupt their progress and keep the document scanning treadmill running. Your entire organization must commit to a transition for you to do it efficiently, without wasting money and time with bandaid solutions.

Third, you need to sketch out a plan for how you intend to transition, including specific internal and external resources and timelines. Those who don’t plan find themselves spending unlimited amounts of money to accomplish a document scanning goal they can no longer measure financially. This is the time to consider a budget and value the benefit of transitioning each process within the organization. If, for example, your budget and value comparison shows you that you can’t afford to scan all of your physical records in a certain division, it will refocus the dialogue on what must be scanned and other solutions for dealing with records that already exist but don’t make sense to convert. This is the single largest place for project cost reduction, and it is critical that it happens upfront.

Fourth, consider the technology solutions available to make your initial transition efficient, and that make sense for your long term management of new workflows. We’ve watched countless clients switch electronic content management softwares multiple times and overbuy top of the line hardware that simply doesn’t make sense for their organizations. Remember that this is a strategic decision, not a buying decision. Cheapest and Best don’t mean good for you. Who will be using these tools and what needs do they have now and in the future? What is the interest of your vendor? What commitments do they make about seeing you through integration? Will they own the data, or will you? You only want to make these decisions once. Seek council from peer organizations and experts before signing a contract that may come back to haunt you.

Fifth, don’t underestimate the internal resources required to accomplish your conversion, even if you are outsourcing significant parts of the project. If your internal team isn’t committed to learning the technology, developing new processes, and changing the way they’ve always done it, you’ll never reach your goal. Having an internal and external project lead is smart, as they’ll balance one another’s decision making.

Sixth and Finally, the transition is never over. Your team should always be looking for optimization opportunities, and your vendors should be incentivized to do the same. Processes can always be better, people’s use of time reconsidered, vendor use and execution evaluated.

If you’d like to talk with our team of experts about developing your conversion plan, we can get you started at no cost, and with no commitment to use our project management team after planning.


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