Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

Film and Fiche just can't be Found?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Mar 08, 2010 @ 06:48 AM
Many companies have old files that may include documents that have previously been saved using microfiche or microfilm. In today's environment, however, Microfiche and microfilm are no longer the standard used for archiving documents nor are they convenient for document retrieval, sharing, or printing.  The use of computerMicrofilm Reader technology has brought with it a new standard for document storage, and that is the scanned image.  If you have used microfiche or microfilm in the past you may be wondering what to do with your current archive.

We've found that while many people know that scanning can be used for paper documents, many folks are not aware that other media can also be scanned as well.  Microfiche, microfilm and aperture cards can all be easily and successfully scanned. Better yet, scanning these images into TIF and PDF converts them into useable formats that can be viewed, shared, and printed by anyone. In addition, these can be easily stored electronically and organized within a database for quick access and retrieval. 

Once your documents are converted you'll be able to easily search and review files on your computer.  Having up to date files can reduce the time spent looking for files and viewing them with readers.  Now files can easily be sent between users who need them with no problem.  Your company will be in compliance with information laws such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and other emerging standards. 

 There are many advantages of converting your microfiche or microfilm to electronic documents, including:

  • Reducing the cost and requirement of storing old microfiche or microfilm
  • Eliminating the need to use reading machines that are quickly becoming obsolete
  • Reducing the expensive maintenance on reading machines
  • Streamlining the process of retrieving files
  • Providing flexible use of electronic files - files can be emailed, printed or faxed
  • Allowing for better organization of files for faster retrieval.

Have you come up with other alternatives for dealing with legacy Film and Fiche files? Please share them in the comments and let me know what you think.

Tags: Scanning, File Storage, Records Management, Microfiche, Microfilm, Scanners

Scanning Microfilm and Microfiche to Digital Images

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 @ 04:53 PM
In the early 1800's, Microfilm was introduced to the world as an efficient, effective method of reducing the physical size needed to store and archive information. Now, nearly 200 years later, many Companies and Government Organizations continue toMicrofilm Roll use Microfilm as an archival solution, although when compared with other modern technologies, there are some inherent limitations that point to Digital Images, such as TIF or PDF being a better solution.

While it is true that Microfilm does give you a long-term, stable archive medium, that is human readable, it is also subject to some of the following limitations:

  • Limited Accessibility - Microfilm, Microfiche, and Aperture Cards may only be reviewed by one user at a time.
  • Physical Space Requirements - Microfilm, while taking significantly less space than paper, still consumes physical space, and must be manually accessed for retrieval.
  • Specialized Equipment needed for Reading
  • Microfilm cannot be easily printed, emailed, and/or faxed without the need for manual intervention.

Converting Microfilmed documents to digital images, therefore is a bit like converting old Vinyl Albums to MP3's. It can help unlock the content and help to make the information both portable and shareable, while allowing for easier, distributed access. The same concepts hold true for the conversion of Film to TIF or PDF.

For more information about converting Microfilm, Microfiche, and Aperture cards to Digital Images, visit Shoreline Records Management's Website..

Tags: Scanning, Microfiche, Microfilm

3 Important Considerations when Buying a Scanner

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 @ 06:31 PM

It usually starts with a simple enough idea - Let's scan paper files to digital images. But when the search for the best scanner gets underway, the choices can quickly become overwhelming. When selecting a Scanner to start capturing images, be sure not to overbuy or get too caught up in scanner specs and features and focus more on what it is that you need to meet your specific requirements.

With today's technology, most document scanners are capable of producing fairly uniform images, and many of the features that are touted are of little or no value to the user. While it is true there are many advanced capabilities that are available for scanning and capturing data from imaged documents, Most people simply need to be able to scan a file, attach some very simple metadata, and retrieve that file when it's needed later on.

There are really three important charecteristics to consider:

Speeds - Scanner Speeds are measured by PPM, or Pages Per Minute at which a scanner will capture images. This is only applicable for scanners that have an Automatic Document Feeder, or ADF, as a Flatbed scanner will be largely dependent on the user that is working with the scanner. 

Feeds - Again, a scanner with an ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) will be more useful if you're capturing batches of files at once. For example, If you're looking to scan and save a 30-Page Contract, it's much easier to capture this on a scanner with an ADF than without one.

Price - Oftentimes, price is the key determining factor in selecting a scanner, and with good reason. For example, two scanners that have ADF's and run at 25PPM may vary greatly in price, and it may not be clear exactly why that's the case. You should take a close look at what Software is being included in the box, as that's often the source of the discrepancy. Keep in mind that good Software will help make the scanning process much easier.

Current technology has advanced to the point where most document scanners are interchangeable. They all feature similar optics and features, buy with so many different models to choose from, choosing the right scanner can seem overwhelming. At the end of the day, you need to consider how the scanned information will be used, and then compare speeds, feeds, and price to make an appropriate decision. 

Tags: Scanning, Scanners

The REAL cost of Lost Documents

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Aug 13, 2009 @ 01:19 PM

Document management is one area of business that is often overlooked.  That is, of course, until the first time that an important document goes missing.  Lost documents can cause problems including poor customer service, inefficient operation, and legal penalties. The best way to avoid disorganization is by to ensure that you've taken some simple steps to ensure you can find your files when you need them.

Create a Document Policy

Start by putting together a document policy for your company.  This should include specifics about how employees are to handle filing, retrieving and keeping files.  Lost documents can cost your business in lost time, money and reputation.  When documents are needed for tax purposes or for litigation the outcome depends on the ability to produce accurate records.  If records are lost it can cost your company thousands of dollars.

Stay Organized

Keep your company organized by putting a document storage policy in place.  Typically, the safest and most affordable place to store older documents in at a records management facility.  There your files will be properly inventoried and organized.  If you need a document you can easily get it with a simple request.  Files are secure and easy to find - the two main requirements of any file system.

Consider all Storage Options

In addition to storing paper files you can also choose to turn your files into electronic documents by scanning.  The scanning of files can either be done internally or outsourced, depending on your preference and needs.  For many companies file scanning makes sense because it cuts down on storage costs and improves file organization.  Once files are no longer needed they can be disposed of by shredding.

Leverage Efficiency to Save Money

Lost documents can actually cost your company in the long run.  Choose a records management policy that you can work with and that properly does the task of organizing your documents properly.  Partnering with a reputable records management company will almost always save you money and provide you with ongoing support for all your records management needs.

Tags: ECM, Scanning, Enterprise Search, File Storage, Records Management

To Scan or Not To Scan - It's not a Question.

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Aug 06, 2009 @ 01:23 PM

There are so many questions I get asked, but one of the most common ones is ... Should I scan my files or store them?

Well, Both options have their pro's and con's and most often, the right choice is a mixture of both.  Physical Document Storage consists of files that are organized and packed into marked storage boxes for future use. File Scanning converts paper files to scanned documents eliminating the need to keep the original documents.  The decision is up to you and will depend on several factors.

  • Type of Business - the kind of business you have may dictate which storage method works best.  For example medical records are typically kept in well-maintained folders making scanning an easy option.  Some business files may include many notes, floor plans or other items that may make scanning more difficult.  If you want to keep originals available for access, it's likely that you would choose storage over scanning.
  • Accessibility - Scanned files may be easier to work with since they can often be emailed and kept electronically.  Stored documents need to be retrieved when needed which takes time and manual labor resources.
  • Manpower - Document storage takes manpower.  If you choose to keep paper records or scan, consider using a Professional Records Management and Scanning Company to do the work for you.  You'll save time and money by using this outsourced solution.
  • Cost - Compare the costs associated with either type of arrangement.  While document storage on your own site can be expensive a much cheaper alternative is to use off-premise storage.  In most cased, off-site storage of the files is significantly less expensive than both on-site storage and Scanning. Again, a professional records management company will handle all storage and organization of documents.  They can also provide complete scanning services at an affordable price.

No matter whether you choose storage or scanning the important thing is that you've determined the need for finding a records management solution.  Pick a solution that works for your company, fits into your budget and will provide your company with the necessary documentation you need for tax purposes, legal reasons and customer support. Your business will be much better for it.

Tags: ECM, Scanning, File Storage, Records Management