Life After Scanning… Now What?

Not surprisingly, many people find themselves wearing multiple hats in today’s office space, and let’s be honest, expanding document management capabilities is often low on the totem pole. We rightly focus on our day-to-day activities and usually are happy when software just “works” as it should. Have no fear! With whatever level of document scanning and content management you’ve deployed, there are some simple moves to take more advantage of the software you already have.

I have found that many of my clients have at least taken some step in the “paperless” direction, but when the first toe enters the “paperless water” we often find ourselves asking the question, “Can I ever make it to the other side?” We still live in a largely paper-driven world, but that is quickly changing. Budgets alone force us to evaluate other options, and no one can refute saving a tree or two.

Your document management system can grow into a business process tool, further eliminate paper and generally be more useful with the following simple considerations:

Although a good level of scanning and archival makes documents easy for human retrieval, it might as well still be in the file cabinet when it comes to other software systems accessing that information. Are you doing the shuffle between your primary work software (Outlook, Word, CRM, etc) and your document management system? Integrations can create one-click, or even no-click, information sharing to and from your document management system. Most software has standard integration procedures (SDK) and accessing your documents from other software systems often comes down to a few scripts and settings.

Much of the “work” we do is related to documents and more specifically how we process documents. Think about how many times you approve, deny, route, copy, send… a document, and then how many documents receive that repeated treatment. We literally live in a “click of a button era” and that is no exception with document management systems. Using Workflow tools in your document management system these repeated processing decisions can be automated. Most document management systems have this feature, but is often not fully utilized. Just a few simple workflows can mean hours of difference.
Document Lifecycle Management
Many clients still utilize their document management and ECM systems simply to store and retrieve documents once processed physically. Ensuring that documents are archived is a critical step, but why archive at the end of the document lifecycle? Scanning documents when first received and then simply accessing and managing that document electronically allows you to track, edit and share the document quickly, without potential loss, prying eyes, multiple copies and the need for more physical storage.
Rethinking Capture
With a document management system in place and the most strategic scanning strategy ever, we are still treating the symptoms of paper, bracing for its creation and arrival. But aren’t we supposed to be going paperless? Treating the cause of paper and its very creation is the death blow to a paper waste. We see the solution as electronic forms, or e-forms. We use them all the time in our personal life, TurboTax, Amazon.com, eBay, and on and on. So why not in our businesses and agencies? Placing a secured electronic form on a website or kiosk, for internal and/or external audiences captures information without paper ever existing. An electronic document is then created from that e-form that can then be managed electronically, just as if it were a scanned piece of paper.
Indexing Your Data
Are you just scanning into a document management system and relying on file/folder names to find your documents? Or even just full-text searching your OCR’d documents? This is usually just fine in the beginning, but fast-forward a few years and a few thousand documents later and it begin to be difficult to find documents, among other issues. When scanning or importing it is important to do so with an indexing strategy. Think about what key pieces of information, and specifically uniquely identifying information that can be included as metadata alongside your documents. Planning now can save tremendous time and money later if confronted with the need to re-index vast amounts of data.

For more information on Life After Scanning, visit biels.com today!