Four Document Scanning Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

For those who are just starting their journey toward the Paperless office, there are a lot of things to consider. The most important one is – “If I scan this file, will I be able to find it later on?” With over 10 Years of experience in helping clients implement and configure Document Scanning projects, suffice it to say that I’ve seen some projects go less than well. Let me share with you the Four Most Common Mistakes that we see People make when starting a Document Scanning project and provide you with some insights on how you can avoid them:

1) Relying on OCR as the main source of document search

It might be more accurate to call refer to this as the “PDF Syndrome.” The full-text PDF has done such a great job of convincing users that any and every document can be found based on the words within the pages that proper indexing has become an oversight for far too many companies. I’ve seen many new technologies for classifying content and automated indexing of scanned pages, but for effective document management, there is not a bigger mistake then relying OCR technology as your only reference point to documents. OCR is a fantastic technology, and many PhD. Level Engineers continue to refine and improve the accuracy, but it’s not 100% accurate.

When you’re capturing business documents, you need to be sure that you’re able to not only find ONE document that meets your search criteria, but very often you need to find ALL of the documents relating to a specific transaction. OCR (or Optical Character Recognition) cannot provide you with the accuracy to ensure that this is going to be the case on a consistent basis. Keep in mind that 90% accuracy will only get you 9 out of 10 Digits in a Social Security Number, meaning that you won’t be able to find the right document a fair percentage of the time.

Instead, you must rely on a combination of Barcode Recognition, Database Validation, and even good old Manual Data Entry to be sure that you can find the documents that you’re looking for, when you need them. These tried and true methods are the only sure bet to locating documents when you need them later on.

2) Using a slow scanner for a high-volume scanning project

There are a lot of numbers that get circulated around in scanner spec sheets, but somehow the one that most people seem to pay the most attention to is speed. For most document imaging applications, scanner speed is going to be important to the overall efficiency, but it really is just one of the things you should consider when selecting a document scanner. To make the right decisions, you’ll need to consider the amount of work that you’re trying to accomplish and make sure that the scanner has not only the appropriate speed capabilities, but also that it handles the daily volume and has the image enhancement technology that the project calls for.
Because there are big price differences between buying a scanner to help address a backfile conversion and a day-forward project, it will often make sense to outsource the high-volume scanning work to a Document Scanning Service company. This will enable you to purchase a scanner that will address your ongoing needs, and save you thousands of dollars on equipment. At the same time, you’ll also benefit from reduced labor costs by paying a flat price per image instead of paying scanning temps or training your own staff to get up to speed.

3) Manually keying all index data

The idea of tagging all of your documents with index information, or keywords, may seem like a daunting task. If your scanning medical records, for example, you may want to tag all of your files with a name, patient ID Number, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, etc. If you consider the number of keystrokes that it would take to attach this data to all of your document, it probably seems like it would take less time to just keep the paper in a folder and not scan it at all.

It doesn’t have to be this hard! If you’re already using a Database of some sort to keep track of information relating to a customer, patient, or transaction, you should put that data to good use. Most Database systems are designed with a master index record, or control number. Our recommendation is always to use that control number to minimize your data entry requirements. Document Scanning Software, such as Kofax Capture or SimpleCapture, can let you perform Database lookups, which saves time and money. Using this strategy, you will only need to enter that Master Index, such as Customer Number, and that will be used to cross-reference a database and automatically populate the other index fields.

4) Not capturing useful index information

When you start scanning files, it’s absolutely critical that you make sure that you attach Meaningful data to the documents being scanned! Each time that you start a scanning project, you need to consider the ways that you may want to get back to that file at some time in the future. It’s doubtful that you’d ever want to get back to a Mortgage Loan Folder by Phone Number, as that’s likely to change once the closing is done, so be sure to attach data that is going to be relevant both now and in the future. You’ll thank yourself later!

While this list is far from comprehensive, these are some of the most common perils and pitfalls we see customers face when starting scanning project. As you start your project, remember the old adage – Measure Twice, Cut Once. By staying focused on how someone will actually need to search and retrieve a document in the future, you’ll be able to ensure that your document imaging project as a success, and your users will thank you later!