What often makes document imaging a tough sale is a lack of understanding as to what document imaging truly is and how it can save resources and money. When selling document imaging solutions you almost always have to start with an education process, mostly because prospects think they know what document imaging is but they only have a rudimentary understanding.
The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) defines document imaging as applying “the technologies that enable users to scan hard copy documents into a computer system and store them in digital format.” The AIIM definition also states that documents are indexed using meta data and archived using some kind of storage technology.
The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) defines document imaging in ISO 1265-1 as the “process of capturing, storing, and retrieving documents regardless of original format, using micrographics and/or electronic scanning (scanning, OCR, ICR, etc.).”
Even the experts can’t completely agree on how to define document imaging. When talking to prospects about their document imaging needs, ask them about their paper processes and explain what document imaging has to offer, and be prepared to answer some challenging questions. Here are some of the questions we encounter:
What’s wrong with paper processes and storage?
This is the big question for every prospect, and depending on their operation you can answer it in a number of ways.
Paper is wasteful, takes up space, gets lost, is difficult to circulate, and is not environmentally friendly – there is a long list you can use to explain what’s wrong with paper processes. Try to grasp what appeals most to the organization’s needs, whether it is efficiency, regulatory compliance, speeding up paper processes, greening their business, or what benefit they would see from eliminating paper.
How do I save money if I invest in a document imaging system?
This is also an open ended question with a number of possible responses. Here are a few of the ways to address this question:
- Saving on paper. The average office worker typically consumes 10,000 sheets of paper per year. The cost of using paper can run 13 to 31 times the cost of purchasing paper. Ergo a ream of paper for which you pay $5 can cost the company as much as $155.
- Paper storage is expensive. The average file cabinet takes 15.7 square feet. Office space costs an average of $23.23 per square foot. So the cost of real estate for each file cabinet is $365 per month.
- Paper documents are inefficient. Fifteen percent of all business paperwork is lost and 30 percent of employees’ time is spent hunting for lost documents.
There are other arguments but industry consensus is that paperless processes can immediately save 30 percent of operating costs.
Won’t having to scan paper documents waste a lot of time and resources?
Consider how much time is wasted generating paper reports, circulating reports, and even losing and reproducing reports. Rather than wasting time and resources on paper processes, creating digital documents promotes efficiency all around. Documents are easier to circulate, they are stored in a central location for easy access, and they can’t get lost. Any time and energy spent digitizing documents will be more than saved by eliminating the paper chase.
How do I identify paperwork so I can retrieve it?
Unlike misfiled paperwork, electronic documents are searchable. Using meta tags and document headers, electronic documents can be stored for easy retrieval at any time Using optical character recognition even makes it possible to digitize scanned documents so the text itself is searchable.
One of the reasons that healthcare facilities are migrating to electronic medical records is to promote eDiscovery – if documents ever need to be retrieved for regulatory or legal reasons they can be easily found.
Doesn’t data storage cost more money than paper storage?
If you go back to our discussion of the cost of maintaining file cabinets and the cost of lost paperwork, digital storage looks very cost effective. However, if the IT budget can’t accommodate more in-house data storage, cloud storage is always available at very reasonable rates.
What about securing sensitive paperwork?
Paperwork stored using document imaging is more secure than actual paper documents. Rather than being locked in a file cabinet, sensitive digital files can be encrypted and archived in such a way that unauthorized users can’t access them.
And digital paperwork is not susceptible to loss in a fire or flood. Secure backup copies of digital files can be stored offsite, or files can be securely archived in the cloud so even if there is a natural disaster, backup copies are always safe.
How do I get my office to abandon their old paper processes and use document imaging?
This is where you can bring added value to the conversation. Suggest an audit of office procedures so you can outline how best to adopt paperless processes. This will give you an opportunity to make a full assessment of the organizations’ document imaging needs and suggest concrete ways to save time and money.