Start slow, work fast

13 May 2021

I am currently posting a series of articles and info pieces about how to break down your digital transformation journey into manageable small steps. The first in the series was posted last week and over the next few weeks I will try and cover all the basic topics, tips, and stumbling blocks.

In last week’s article I mentioned that the very first step is to break down the process into steps and determine your needs from the very first action with your end-goal in mind. If you do not do this, you will end up buying equipment or using services that does not give you what you will need at the end. For instance: The first action you will need to take is to make all your paper documents electronic. This seems easy enough right? It is merely scanning of documents. Not so easy. If you do not know how you are going to use the electronic documents or consider how many there will be, you might end up using equipment that is sub-par and does not fulfil your needs.

How much space will your electronic document use on an external storage device?

Household and consumer scanners do not come with bundled software that compresses the end-product, and your scanned documents could end up being quite large.

Will you need to be able to search within your documents after they have been scanned?

A scan is merely an image, not a document and is not searchable. With the right bundled software, you can add an OCR layer that will enable you to recognise and search for known characters in hundreds of supported languages, effectively turning your image into a searchable document.

How much paper do you need to digitise?

This is where scan speed comes in. If you had to stand and wait 10 seconds or more for each page to be scanned and you have mountains of paper, the first step will take months and a lot of resources. Does your scanner scan both sides of the paper or will you have to feed it through twice to scan both sides? This is very time consuming, and you will need to employ someone as it is labour intensive. Any manual process comes with an added risk of inaccuracy and error. Look for a high-volume duplex scanner with the bundled software you will need.

What size and format are the paper you will need to digitise?

Is it all A4 documents or are you working with waybills, invoices, different thickness purchasing papers, cardstock, fragile items etc.? Choose a scanner according to you paper needs and consider how those needs might change in the future.

Lastly, you need to ask yourself if this is really a job you could do in-house?

Sometimes the collections of paper that needs to be digitise is to diverse or complicated to justify buying a specialised scanner. You may have to make use of digitising specialists who have, and are qualified to operate, very specialised equipment in a professional scan bureau. These services can do artworks, bound books, very fragile material, microfilm, and microfiche as well as aperture cards. They have extremely high-volume production scanners that scans as fast as a human can feed the paper into the machines. Other specialised equipment includes scanners that can scan photographs/ negatives or slides at up to 9000 dpi (yes, nine thousand!)

Now that you have all these things to think about before jumping in and digitising all and sunder, you can make informed decisions about which, if any, equipment to buy. As always, our consultants at Avision is happy to help with any questions you might have regarding your digital journey and how you could find what you need at a price you can afford.

Written by Hanlie van Schalkwyk

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