Document imaging services enable the conversion of paper documents to an electronic format. This involves digitizing the paper and capturing any necessary information from it, such as indexing data or information used in line of business systems like ERP, accounting, CRM or HR systems. Document imaging services can be delivered in two ways:
- An on-site implementation that enables end users to scan and capture their own documents
- An outsourced service with a document conversion specialist doing the capture and providing their customers with images and data
There are also hybrid models. The conversion specialist, for example, may be used for a large backfile project with an on-site system implemented for scanning lower volumes of day-forward documents. Or, the user may scan their documents and utilize a specialist for data capture or vice-versa.
Document imaging services are a valuable market offering because document conversion is not a skill set that most organizations have in-house. That’s because it is not core to most businesses. Even though an insurance company may deal with a lot of paperwork, their core business is still insurance. Many organizations prefer to outsource for non-core services like document imaging.
Don’t make these mistakes
That all said, if you are going to offer document imaging services, it’s important to know what you are getting into. Following are five common misconceptions about document imaging services:
It’s all about scanning: Without a proper workflow in place, scanning a document merely takes a paper problem and makes it an electronic one. It’s important to understand a customer’s paper-driven business processes before attempting to convert them to electronic. Return on investment should be calculated based on process improvements and pricing based on that ROI, not just the volume of documents being scanned.
Don’t underestimate document prep work: Not all batches of documents are created equal. Removing staples and paper clips, sorting documents into batches, inserting separator sheets—all of this takes time and manpower. Before quoting a price for conversion services or an ROI for an on-site implementation, make sure you take into account document preparation costs.
OCR doesn’t work: This is a carry over from the early days of automated recognition— when the technology was oversold and often under-delivered. Not only has the technology improved, VARs and vendors have learned how to sell it better. OCR is not magic that automatically converts 100% of an end user’s documents into usable electronic information, but it can be a valuable tool for significantly reducing manual labor. Even an 80% field recognition rate can provide tremendous returns. And with proper QA and exception workflows in place, accuracy rates can surpass those for manual data entry.
Outsourcing is cheap: End users see rates advertised at a few cents per page and figure that a conversion project will cost next to nothing. But these rates are often for the most basic services. Per document costs rise when you start adding indexing fields, reducing maximum turnaround times, and guaranteeing accuracy rates. When you factor in large document volumes, end users often go into sticker shock and can be scared off a document imaging services project. Try and set realistic expectations from the outset, make sure you can show an ROI, and don’t be afraid to leave some documents as paper. Remember, a successful document imaging services project is about a lot more than eliminating paper.
MFPs are equal to scanners: Although MFP scanning technology has certainly come a long way in recent years, it is still not as versatile as dedicated document scanners. MFPs are great for smaller jobs of similar type documents, but for higher volumes and batches of mixed document types, a dedicated document scanner is the clear choice.
The bottom lines is that there are tremendous efficiency gains that can be achieved through document imaging services, but it’s important that both the customer and the service provider know what they are getting into up front. A carefully planned project where both sides understand the initial and long-term costs, as well as benefits, should lead to a successful partnership that is profitable for sides.