Before deciding whether internal employees can tackle the job of systematically converting paper documents to digital files, it’s important to evaluate long-term and short-term needs for integrating digital documents with the electronic document management system. Compile a list of the documents that should be converted and estimate the number of pages that will need to be processed. Next, do a realistic assessment of the additional time needed to do the paper conversions and determine if there are staff resources currently available.
There can be advantages to doing document conversion in-house. Regardless of which method is selected for the initial rollout from paper to digital documents, organizations will need to purchase scanning devices to integrate new documents coming into the system. With scanners and a conversion process in place, documents can be scanned, indexed, and available in a short time. Since employees are familiar with the documents they are scanning, there is a greater chance that indexing and search criteria will be more uniform. Sensitive information or documents subject to stricter regulations, may be a better choice for in-house conversion.
The biggest challenges with in-house conversion are having sufficient IT staff that is familiar with imaging technology and the integration of the devices with the electronic document management system. Lack of additional staff time to deal with the conversion process, in addition to their regular duties is also a common problem with in-house conversion. Having to sift through and scan thousands and thousands of pages of archival files can be a daunting task.
A recent survey of companies that utilized digital conversion of documents for their electronic document management system conducted by AIIM, an information management association, revealed that the number of organizations relying on outsourcing for conversion was growing. “There is a growth indicated in the outsourcing elements of the process itself, and making the process further as more of an end-to-end solution. In our view, this can be a good way to overcome internal roadblocks that are holding back paper-free initiatives…”
“There is a growth indicated in the outsourcing elements of the process itself, and making the process further as more of an end-to-end solution. In our view, this can be a good way to overcome internal roadblocks that are holding back paper-free initiatives…”
There are a number of reasons that companies would opt to have their document conversion handled by a professional provider. Reduced costs required to purchase complex, high-volume scanning technology and avoiding burdening employees with additional tasks outside their area of expertise are two of the most cited reasons.
Professional providers also offer expertise in integrating the new digital data with document management systems, superior quality imaging, and have proven methodologies to smooth the transition.
Document conversion companies usually offer both off-site and on-site conversion services. With off-site conversion, boxes of documents to be scanned are brought to the production facility, where the work takes place. An off-site location can also more easily provide conversion of large format documents, like engineering drawings or other oversized documents.
One option, which is an alternative for organizations that want to keep their paper records at their location, is having staff from the document conversion provider perform the process on-site. Many conversion service companies can provide on-site conversion services, which can be a good choice for companies that have sensitive documents. Sometimes the final solution is a combination of the three options that are available.