How Document Scanning Is Transforming Legacy Archiving
There are many reasons why businesses store paperwork. An important one is to meet legal obligations. Some documents have to be retained for a set period (years!) to meet the requirements of various government agencies.
A secondary reason is to provide backup to current business activities. For example, accounts personnel can only reconcile bank statements if there are records to support the transactions shown on a statement.
Then there is customer service – a business certainly wants to retain customer records to ensure it treats its customers effectively.
Some companies end up with millions of pages of old paper archives. There are companies that specialise in storing paper archives in safe locations, such as inside temperature-controlled caves.
One of the main problems with holding large archives of paper is finding a particular document. Unless paper records are organised extremely efficiently, and everyone always puts them back exactly as they found them, there are real chances of losing some of it as time passes.
Is there a solution to this ever-present problem? Yes: document scanning.
Some businesses have taken the steps of scanning their paperwork. The scanned documents are stored on computers just like any other data files and these can be backed up safely. Each scanned document can be indexed with one or more keywords that can be used later on to search for particular documents.
Some document-image-processing systems (DIPs) are implemented with the aim of cutting down stored paperwork from the very beginning. New correspondence is scanned as soon as it is arrived, is indexed, and then forwarded across the computer network to the relevant people. The original papers can be discarded as soon as they are scanned correctly.
It is also practical, if lengthy, to implement DIPs to replace an existing document archive with a computer-based one. Where there are millions of pages in an archive, it will take a long time to scan everything. But the benefits of doing this are immense:
- DIPs give users access to documents on their PC screens. They don’t have to traipse to the archive store, fill in a request for a particular set of documents and wait for them to be returned from offsite storage. The documents are available online, usually immediately.
- DIPs allow several people to read a document simultaneously, even in different offices. After all, that document is only a computer file, so it can be shared.
- DIPs introduce security, backups, to paper records in a way that can’t be repeated easily using only paper. Any competent DIPs will have a backup service installed to keep its data safe.
- Some DIPs use character-recognition technology to convert the scanned page into useful, searchable text. This can reduce the size of the resulting scanned document considerably compared to saving it as an image. But it also means that the document content becomes more useful to the business.
Modern document scanning can transform document archiving into a useful business resource that is immediately available to many users.