Document imaging can take various forms, but basically it is the practice of replicating business documents for centralized storage and access. Paper documents can be scanned and stored as static PDF pages, or they can be categorized and stored as searchable content, including using optical character recognition (OCR) to convert document content to searchable text. However you approach it, document imaging can serve as a real profit center for resellers.
Depending on the industry and its business requirements, many organizations are opting to go paperless. According to sources at the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA), companies can save about 40 percent of document management costs with document imaging. The savings not only comes in reduced paper and print production; there also is savings from recovered office and storage space, document retrieval, and other factors.
Here are eight things you should know about the benefits of document imaging:
- Real savings in multiple ways – The potential financial benefits from document imaging come in many forms. There are tangible savings from reduction of paper usage, eliminating printer hardware and maintenance, savings in printing supplies, and so on. There are also savings in IT support for print servers, annual maintenance contracts, and support costs. And there are the intangible savings. Consider how many trips your employees make to the department printer every week, or the time required to file all the paper that gets generated.
- Space savings – Almost every office is drowning in paper and document imaging eliminates a lot of paper which creates more space. Consider how much space would be saved by eliminating file cabinets and paper archives. Even in businesses that traditionally require large paper repositories, such as legal offices, accounting services, or real estate offices, document imaging can be a tremendous saving of space.
- Document Retrieval and Shared information – Industry analysts estimate that about four trillion documents are stored in physical file cabinets every year. If a document is lost or misfiled, the average cost in labor alone to replace it is $220. With document imaging file storage is computerized and all documents are tracked and readily retrievable.
- Collaboration – Adopting digitized documents makes it easy to share information across the office or around the globe, without relying on FAX machines or couriers. Electronic files can be shared via email, chat, or other means, or shared using a central data repository.
- Knowledge retention and archiving – Frequently, paper documents disappear or walk away when an employee leaves the company. Document imaging makes for better information retention and knowledge transfer. Using centralized document management as part of corporate best practice ensures that your files are securely stored and available for the next person who may need that information.
- Regulatory compliance – Many industries are required to adhere to government regulations, including maintaining accurate records. Whether you are concerned with HIPAA compliance and need to keep secure medical records, or if you have to be prepared for your next Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) audit, document imaging lets you maintain a complete archive of all business records that can be accessible at any time using e-discovery.
- Security and disaster recovery – Storing all business documents in a data storage facility promotes better data security. Sensitive information is filed in password-protected archives so no one can walk up and access it without authorization. And by storing electronic documents in a safe offsite facility or by maintaining cloud backups you can be sure documents can be recovered in the event of a disaster.
- Greener operations – By implementing document imaging and managed print services, companies can reduce their carbon footprint by as much as 60 percent. Most of the positive environmental impact comes from the savings on paper and paper production, but there are other positive environmental benefits from the reduction in energy needed to run printers and support hardware, the savings in print supplies waste, and the carbon emissions savings from manufacturing all those printing supplies.
These are just some of the considerations for using document imaging. There are a host of reasons to centralize document management and print services, and considerations as to the best approach. For example, you need to weigh the pros and cons of maintaining your own document imaging systems versus outsourcing it. And how far do you need to go to make sure documents are properly categorized and searchable to promote ready access; do you store everything or only some business-critical documents?
What are your biggest considerations when selling document imaging services? Is there a common concern that your customers share? We welcome your comments and insights.