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Myths of going Paperless: Cost of Technology

The cost of new technology is one of the biggest obstacles in converting to a paperless office.  Hardware upgrades including new computers, scanners, printers, and software are necessities when converting to an electronic office. However, the cost of technology is often misconstrued. Affordable hardware is more available today then ever before.

One of the main components of converting to an electronic office is the computer.  Computers have always been viewed as expensive to purchase.  However, if you compare the price of computers in 2010 to the early years of the decade, computer prices have fallen nearly 60%.*  The second major component of a paperless office is electronic memory.  Electronic memory is needed to store all documents that have been converted to a digital form.  Over the past 20 years, prices per unit of memory have declined by an average of 32% each year.*  Today, external hard drives able to hold millions of documents are very reasonably priced.

When the costs of converting to an electronic office are seen as an investment, the supposed high costs of hardware shouldn’t be brought into the equation.  Technology is improving everyday and becoming more affordable.  The myths of the past of expensive computers, memory, scanners, and printers are artificial.  When increased productivity and profits are the result of a paperless office, technology costs seem like a small speed bump.

*statistics are from the Congressional Budget Office <www.cbo.gov>

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Myths of Going Paperless: Changing Workflow

People are creatures of habit.  Especially, if these habits have been building for years or even decades.  This fact is often the most used excuse to prevent an office from changing the paper-based workflow they’ve been comfortable with for years.  However, paperless workflow and electronic documents are becoming more and more popular over the years due to considerable savings and speed of use. Companies are finding they must convert to a more productive form of paperless workflow to stay competitive.

In this new electronic age, changing workflow should not be viewed as a negative process.  Instead, it should be viewed as progression into a more productive, competitive office.  Initial learning curves and problems are going to occur but the end goal is well worth it.  New user-friendly software’s and 3rd party companies can help the transition to a paperless workflow.  Computers and the Internet have become pillars in our society and some employees would be amazed to how easy they are to incorporate into a paperless workflow.

The name paperless workflow can also be misleading.  Not every single piece of paper needs to be eliminated in your office.  It’s all about making your office more productive and efficient.  If some processes still require the use of paper then keep them.  Every office has its own unique workflow and this is also true with each office’s paperless workflow.  Your office might be in a comfortable paper based workflow, but habits are meant to be broken.  The sooner paperless based concepts are adapted the less time it will take to become an office of the future.

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Should You OCR Your Files?

Before I go on about whether or not to OCR your scanned documents, let us talk about what exactly OCR is.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR), takes your image, for instance your PDF and converts all written words into encoded text.  Which will then make it possible to search for text throughout the PDF or image.

Most of the time companies will charge a little extra to make their files OCRed because of how time intensive the task is as of right now.  With that being said this is where you want to ask yourself is it beneficial for us to pay a little more for OCRed files and the answer is…… it depends.

You’ve got to ask yourself the following questions….

1.  What will we be exactly doing with these documents?

2.  Will we be using these documents on a regular basis?

3.  Are the documents organized already?

4.  How many pages are there in a PDF batch?

5.  Do we need to find keywords throughout the document?

6.  What industry are you in?

If you are in the legal industry we always suggest going in the OCR direction.  In the medical industry we don’t see the need to use OCR as much.

Once it is time for document scanning, these questions will help you decide what you should do.  You will always be able to go back and OCR them if you change your mind.  So the question is do you need your scanned files OCRed?

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10 Tips for Document Scanning

Many people do not understand the undertaking of getting your files scanned and converting them into a digital format. Here are some tips I will pass along to you and to think about.

1. Know exactly how you want to be able to use your scanned documents.

2. Always look into OCRing your documents.

3. Research and analyze the cost of doing the scanning in-house versus outsourcing the job.

4. Getting the file ready to be scanned, also known as prepping the file is something that should not be over looked. It is very easy to miss a staple, sticky note and other hindrances.

5. Find the correct software to manage the documents that will be most cost effective while being able to function to ones needs.

6. If you are scanning in-house, do not over look the scanner. There are many out there, with multiple functions.

7. Be as organized as you possibly can. It is very easy to lose one piece of paper if you are not being organized throughout the process.

8. Always double check the work of your employees and/or yourself.

9. Index as many fields as you can for each scanned batch (PDF). This will only make it easier when you are searching for the file.

10. Track what you have done. Write down who scanned what, who prepped the file, as well as where the file has gone.

I hope this has helped your next document scanning job!

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