Scanning documents and converting them into a pdf file is a fairly simple task to accomplish these days. Most offices have one or more printers with multifunction capabilities such as scanning and/or faxing. Converting single documents into pdf files is simple enough, but making the jump from one-off scanning to creating a paperless office is not so simple. In order to significantly reduce the amount of paper processed and stored in your office, it is important to consider what needs to happen after the documents are scanned. Unless you want to convert your paper based chaos into digital based chaos, consider these 3 questions before you scan your documents to pdf:
1. How will you search for them?
How long would it take you to find the expense report you scanned last month? Is it in the same directory on your computer or networks as the month before? Can you tell what is in the file from it’s name, or do you have to open the file to find out. If you had to track down a line item from the last 6 months but you aren’t sure which month the expense occurred, how long would it take to find that?
Even if you are organized, what would happen if everyone in the office started scanning documents? Would the fact that these documents are now electronic make your life easier or more difficult?
Creating standards for file locations and naming conventions can help make retrieval easier, but most companies find they need document indexing to help streamline the search and retrieval process.
2. What other systems need the information contained in these documents?
Many documents contain information that are needed by more than one system. One of the benefits of moving to digital document management is information can be extracted and sent to HR, finance, customer support or other custom applications during the scanning process. If you have a process that involves one department scanning and emailing (or faxing) documents to another department, you should investigate document capture solutions.
3. What processes or workflows depend on these documents?
In addition to containing information needed by different departments, documents may also be part of a workflow – a set of activities based on your business rules. Automating these business rules, or workflows is another reason businesses are turning to digital document management solutions. Routing documents to managers for review and approval and creating rules that allow “management by exception” are some of the ways that business accomplish more with less when they convert from paper based documents to a digital document management system.
Bonus Question: Would it be better to just eliminate paper from the beginning?
Depending upon your business needs that led you to scanning documents to begin with, it may be easier to skip the paper right from the beginning. Today’s e-form solutions are powerful and easy to deploy, making them a viable alternative for many business use cases.
E-forms are more than just an electronic version of a paper form. E-forms help you capture, verify, approve and integrate data with the critical business systems used to run your organization.
Eliminating paper from the capturing and distributing of information streamlines business processes, improves efficiency and cuts costs. That’s real ROI from going green.
If you have any questions about scanning your document to pdf or would like to see a demonstration of how e-forms work, give us a call at (888) 630 – 1153.