Even though offices have become highly digitized spaces, the fact of the matter is that hordes of critical-to-business information continues to be communicated through paper. This includes business invoices, contracts, business cards, tax documents, travel claims, customer information forms and employee personal records. Businesses such healthcare, financial services, logistics and education are especially susceptible to a document-overload.
In most offices documents are stored in files, cabinets and boxes, making the task of accessing information a time-consuming process, not to mention the ever-present risk of loss of an important business document. In fact problems associated with paper-based information can impact all areas of productivity. Alternatively, converting documents to the digital form can address many of these concerns and create hitherto unrealized efficiencies.
6 Benefits of Scanning Business Documents
1. Lower operating costs – Scanning documents eliminates the need to provision for document storage at the office premises. Instead, the additional space can be used to add value to the business via an additional sales or service desk.
2. Reduced risk of loss – Scanning documents reduces the risk of loss of vital information as well as the risk of a lost business opportunity for lack of timely access to information.
3. Improved employee productivity - A digital filing system makes it easier to search for information using a keyword or phrase, reducing the amount of time it takes employees to complete tasks.
4. Anytime, anywhere access – Today document scanners come with the a one-touch functionality of sharing the scanned document across multiple platforms such as email, on the cloud and third-party applications; thereby making it easier for employees to access information remotely.
5. Improved information security – Storing information in digital form and deploying restrictions on access enhances confidentiality of business information. Scanned images can be saved as PDF documents with digital signatures to authenticate contents.
6. Better disaster recovery practice - Even for smaller businesses with limited budgets, investing in a document scanner can prove to be a valuable disaster management tool.Scanned documents stored on computers tend to be routinely backed-up; plus they can be easily stored on drives at off-site locations.
Clearly a document scanner can provide a plethora of benefits for businesses of every size and type. But given the multitude of choice available in the market, it can be confusing to decide on a scanner that will deliver the required results for your business.
Important aspects to consider before choosing a document scanner
Digital scanning devices are available at a wide range of prices, from scanners costing less than $100 to those costing several thousand dollars. However, pricing is only one of the factors to consider.
Scanning volume: If your business has a high per day scanning volume, then investing in a device that scans more pages per minute (ppm) may be worth the investment. On the other hand, for occasional or low volume document scanning, scanner speed may not even be a consideration.
What are you scanning? While scanning in offices mostly involves documents and images, there could be other items as well (business cards, books and magazines). Both type and size of document will determine the suitability of a scanner. Here are some of the common scanner types and features to consider:
- Flatbed scanners are recommended for photos, bound material and easily damaged originals such as stamps
- 3 D scanners, a relatively new technology, are used for scanning objects to 3D
- Sheet feeders to scan up to 10 pages in one-go
- ADF or automatic document feeder for scanning large stacks of 50-100 documents in one batch
- Duplex scanners for scanning both sides of the document at once
- Scanners with a higher ppi optical resolution may be preferable for higher resolution scanning
Scanner portability: With compact and portable document scanners, the convenience of scanning moves from a back-office system to being available at the point of need. For example – sheet-feed scanners that fit into a laptop bag and pen-sized scanners. Document scanners with WiFi connectivity are especially useful for businesses working out of a small space.
Whether the over-riding goal for your business is document archiving, workflow management or distribution of digital content, ensure that you check these basic aspects before buying an office scanner.
Recently launched document scanners
Depending on your business scanning requirements, these recently launched document scanners may also be worth considering.
This scanner is suitable for businesses with moderate but frequent document scanning requirements. A compact color document scanner, the WorkForce DS-510 can be used to scan and share documents via cloud services and email. Priced at $399, the scanner comes equipped with software for advanced image and color adjustments, optical character recognition (OCR) for scanning documents in editable format and TWAIN and ISIS drivers for compatibility with third-party document management software.
- 26 ppm ; 52 ipm ( inches per minute)
- 50 sheets in one batch of automatic document feed, with duplex scanning
- Scan up to 3000 sheets a day
- Its network module (available at an additional cost) can support up to 100 workstations.
- Ultrasonic double-feed detection technology which stops the scanning if more than one page has been detected.
Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 ( wireless connectivity)
This next-generation office document scanner lets you scan documents to an iOS or Android mobile device or PC using WiFi connectivity (although only a single device can connect remotely to the scanner at a time). Priced at $ 495, this compact wireless scanner can be placed in any corner of the office and is ideal for businesses that lack space. The basic scanning specs are similar to the Epson WorkForce DS-510, including the functionality of scanning to cloud services. It also has an ultra-sonic sensor for detecting jams.
The big-daddy among the three scanners listed, the Pulstek New SmartOffice PS456U Scanner at $ 849 is ideal for businesses that have high scanning volume. As per Mark Druziak, Plustek’s director of marketing and business development, “This scanner is exceptionally fast, has a high daily duty cycle and is much less expensive than competitive scanners. Industries that would benefit greatly from the SmartOffice PS456U include: healthcare, financial, insurance, manufacturing, educational, and legal offices”.
- 100 sheets ADF
- Scan up to 8000 sheets a day
- Ultrasonic mis-feed detection allows for documents of different sizes and thickness to be scanned in the same batch
All three scanners have single touch scanning and allow for advanced color adjustments in the scanned document.
For many businesses, documentation is simply a way of life. However as technology evolves, the danger for such organizations is that paper based and digital communications may continue to exist as two disconnected halves and therefore impair business efficiency. This is where a powerful scanner can be a valuable tool for converting documents to electronic format. Doing so will give the business a 360 degree view of its operations, while also empower employees with greater access to information.