Scanning is Simple

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Keywords: AIIM. Google, ECM, OCR, scanning, scanner, saas, XaaS, cloud, capture, cloud computing

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Yep, there I said it. Scanning is Simple.

Let’s be honest. It’s really quite easy to take a good picture of a document.

It can be as simple as … Click. 


However, that’s about where the concept of simple starts to break down. If all that needs to be done is take a few pictures of a piece of paper it’s pretty easy. However, when factors like where to store them, what to call them, and whether one or both sides of the paper need to be captured (a fancy term for “take a picture”) the concept of simple starts to break down.

The Rise of the Expert

Yes, the scanning world has experts. Just like every industry there are people that have dedicated their careers to helping companies make the most of their paper based assets. Yes … Paper is an Asset. A single lost document (See - Cost of a Lost Document) can mean the difference between winning or losing a lawsuit and so much more.

Let an Expert be your Guide

While the basic concept is scanning is simple there are factors that should be considered before you start scanning. An expert will help you walk thru the process and think through the questions that should be asked before embarking on a scanning project.

Questions like those below are straightforward and only a small sample of the questions they will pose to you.

  1. single sided of dual sided?
  2. where will the electronic documents be sent?
  3. are they part of a compliance process?
  4. do “original” master images need to be sent to a governing agency?

Hire an Expert

There are lot of them out there. AIIM has training classes and certifications for people to become experts and to hone their expertise. There are many other experts out there too. Some of which have been in this industry since it was started (at least in the PC era).

Why Hire an Expert?

If scanning is so simple … why hire an expert?

Experts will make your life simpler. Much like going to the dentist if you have a toothache. ECM and more specifically Document Capture experts exist to help insure the scanning system is designed, developed and deployed in a predictable, repeatable and sustainable manner.

Beyond Paper Assets

As your Information Extraction from your Paper Based Assets project continues to the next step you will want an expert that knows about Document Management (Pillar 2), Workflow (Pillar 3) and Storage (Pillar 4). Each of these make up what I call the Four Pillars of ECM. There are experts for each of these pillars too. Sometimes they will be the same person or from the same firm. Other times you will want to mix and match to utilize a best of breed approach. I predict the best of breed approach will gain traction as more services are delivered in the cloud.

The Future of Scanning

The process of taking a picture of a document will continue to get easier and cheaper. Many of the “advanced” capabilities that a few short years ago either cost a small fortune or provided inconsistent results will become readily available.

I predict many of these features will be available at no charge. Much like the way Google offers free OCR today. I think most of what are considered advanced image processing capabilities will be also be available free of charge in just a few years. For some of the newer and more advanced features they will be available on a per click basis on a Cloud Computing (aka SaaS / XaaS) basis. Yes, scanning will be pervasive in the cloud too (just like everything else).

What do you think?

  • Is Scanning Simple?
  • Will Scanning become commoditized like screen savers?
  • Will Scanning go away as everyone converts to a paperless office?

Extra Credit for Experts:

    • What Questions do you ask your new clients?
    • What is the most often overlooked area or issue when your customer is considering a scanning project?
    • Is there a Killer App / Feature you think every scanner / scanning project needs?

The best answers may be eligible for a prize. If you don’t want to share them in the comments you can send them to me directly and I will keep your confidence if you tell me it’s a not for public consumption. Care to Share?


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Sam Palozzi

Hey Jeff,
Awesome Topic! Good summary and excellent questions although I can't help but feel you were trying to get me and other operations guys a little excited with the statement, 'scanning is simple'. OK, it worked. I'm excited. The answer is that it can be simple sometimes and sometimes it can be very, very complicated.
What fascinates me about scanning is that it is so completely practical and all of the THEORY that has been built up around ECM has to take a back seat to the inevitable, inescapable, almost magical, act of turning a piece of paper into an image. It's like turning lead into gold.
So, all this is to say that when we scan 250,000 envelope exteriors in 12 hours we can say it's simple. When we take 15 minutes to scan the contents of a single envelope that includes prescription slips, business cards, sticky notes, staples, paper clips, pocket change and gum wrappers (OK, I'm kidding about the gum wrappers) it becomes very complicated.
I've said enough but I'd love to hear what others have to say.
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This post and comment(s) reflect the personal perspectives of community members, and not necessarily those of their employers or of AIIM International