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How to Evaluate Document Imaging Solutions to Fit Your Clients' Needs

January 28, 2017

It’s a VAR’s job to consider these variables and come up with a solution that best solves their customers’ needs. This solution will likely be based on a combination of hardware, software, and professional services. So, how do you evaluate what elements to use in order to create solutions?

You can boil down customers’ variables into two main categories: volume and complexity. Under each one of these are several elements to consider when developing a solution to fit your clients needs:

Volume considerations

Scanning hardware: The speed of the scanning device is a good place to start in your evaluation. How many documents do your customers want to scan per hour? Most devices are rated in pages per minute, so some simple math can help you come up with the best fit. You also want to check out specifications like the recommended daily duty cycle and throughput with color scanning and image processing features turned on. Check if the feeder can effectively handle your customers’ paper types without jamming. MFPs can also be considered in lower-volume implementations.

Storage: There is no question that storage costs are falling, and, in some cases, cloud storage costs may be falling even faster than on-premises storage costs. If your customer has a high volume of images that need to be accessed frequently, a magnetic storage medium is probably your best choice. But for archival images that are less frequently accessed, tape libraries can be considered in order to save on costs.

Throughput/processing power: It’s not hard to figure out that higher-volume applications require more/higher-powered servers. But you also have to consider issues like how much processing is required by your customers’ application. Certain processes like OCR are often best deployed on a server in order to take advantage of centralized processing, but in higher-volume applications, the latency created by having to connect to the server can be a hindrance. You need to balance these variables.

Capture software: Quite simply, more advanced capture software should enable your customers to upload their documents more rapidly into workflows and ECM systems with less effort. However, there is a cost, both in setup and software. You have to weigh these costs against the benefits—if an ROI can be proven, you have a case for advanced capture; if not, basic capture works fine in many applications.

Complexity considerations

Workflow/BPM: Does your customer need workflow/business process management (BPM) software in order to complement their storage and retrieval system? This typically depends on the number of people who need to see/touch a document in order to process it. Simple processes can typically be manually executed through e-mails. More complex processes, with multiple steps and variables, can benefit from automated workflow/BPM software.

Capture requirements: In addition to page volume, the amount of data that needs to be captured from forms can determine the type of capture software that you need. If only one or two fields are being extracted, or the documents contain a barcode identifier, basic capture software will usually suffice. However, when dealing with variably structured documents like invoices, or unstructured documents like correspondence, more advanced capture can be a big benefit. Advanced capture can cut down on keystrokes and reduce errors.

Records management/compliance: Is your customer in a regulated industry? Do they have strict guidelines about who can access documents? Do they have document retention/disposal policies that they want to enforce? These are all signs that your customer could benefit from records management software.

Distributed requirements: Where are your customers receiving their documents? Are they all coming into one site or mailroom, or are they received at multiple branches that then need to send them to a central location for processing? The first model calls for a centralized, high-volume scanning model, and the second a distributed model utilizing multiple lower-volume scanning devices.

System integration: What line of business system does your customer need in order to integrate their imaging system? Is it an accounting, CRM, ERP, or some other type of system? Many imaging systems have prewritten integrations to different third-party systems that you might want to consider taking advantage of.

As you can see, there are many elements to evaluate when determining what type of document imaging system is right for your customer. If you have established a niche, many of these variables will be somewhat consistent across your customer base, making your job easier. But it’s still important to consider each implementation individually, evaluate your customers’ needs, and plug in the most appropriate elements in order to create a solution. This is part of the value add that you can provide.  Ingram Micro can help you with all areas; let us be your one-stop shop for all IT needs.  Contact your Ingram sales representative now, 1-800-456-8000.