If you’re reading this blog, we feel congrats are in order. The decision to outsource your scanning project is the first step to revolutionizing your document management process, and this is big news for your business. However, while the decision is taking a step in the right direction, there’s a lot to consider before you commit to a document scanning company. Here we look at choosing a document scanning company perfectly suited for your document scanning project to make it as painless and profitable as possible.
Define Your Goals
As document scanning pros ourselves, we know it goes a long way in providing exceptional document scanning services when we know what our clients are trying to achieve. You’re probably thinking obviously, we want to scan documents and save digital files. But what a good document scanning company wants to know is why? There are many reasons you might be doing this:
- Are you impacted by industry retention schedules, i.e. medical records that have become unmanageable?
- Are you using too many formats of documents making it difficult to find information?
- Are you running out of storage space for paper records?
- Is it costing you too much money for offsite storage space for paper documents?
- Are you looking to embrace technology to improve processes and become more competitive?
- Do you have scanners you’re using right now to turn paper documents into digital that you’ll continue to use?
- Is this a bulk scanning project, or do you plan to scan to zero?
- Can you actually go paperless, or will your organization continue to use non-digital formats?
- Do you need document management software?
Explaining your goals ensures you get accurate quotes AND, more importantly, a comprehensive plan and service proposal that ensures your document scanning project is a success.
Your Current Situation
We always make sure we understand our clients’ current situations so we can come up with the simplest solution to tackle each project. Some of the important details you should be prepared to discuss include:
- Industry standards (i.e. HIPAA compliant) you have to follow
- How you store your documents and all the current storage areas in use regardless of the format
- Who has access to what
- How documents are backed up, if at all, i.e. copies at a safe location, scanning, etc.
- Formats to be scanned
- Other stakeholders involved in sharing documents, such as clients, vendors, suppliers, government bodies, etc.
- Security concerns, including authorizations
- The team involved in the document scanning project
- Team members requiring training on the new system
- Your schedule
- All special requirements for your industry or internal processes
Again, this information is key to finding the right solution for your document scanning project.
Research to Create a Short List to Choose a Document Scanning Company
When you address the information above, you’ll have a checklist you can use to find the ideal scanning company. Search local scanning companies with high ratings and read their websites to make sure they have the experience you require, such as:
- Do they work with similar companies to yours?
- Do they work with major companies, government entities, etc. to show they are reputable?
- How long have they been in business?
- How do they manage your information before they scan your documents?
- What document scanning services do they offer?
- How does their document conversion work, and what scanning technology do they use?
Create a shortlist and make some calls to set up initial consultations.
Choose a Document Scanning Company with References
Ask for references, preferably from organizations similar to yours. This will allow you to ask questions not just about the scanning company but also about what to expect.
Take a Tour or Walk Through the Scanning Process
Ideally, your documents will be shipped to secure facilities for improved efficiency. If this is the case, you should either tour the facility if it is convenient or have them walk you through the scanning process. The key is to understand what they’ll do for you, how they’ll handle your documents, and if they are state of the art. Here’s what you want to know about the process:
- Where are your documents handled?
- What equipment do they use, and what is the capability, i.e. how many pages are scanned per minute?
- If at the facility, does it seem secure and ORGANIZED? (Stacks of random boxes everywhere are a red flag)
- How many people seem to be wandering around vs working?
- Do you feel confident the people you encounter are professional and experienced?
- How do they remain compliant?
- Do they have checks and balances to ensure that the count of the original documents matches 100% of the scanned documents?
- Do they verify that the scanned images are completely legible and offer enhancement services for damaged or hard-to-read older or damaged documents?
These are the details that separate the stars from the duds.
Document Security and Protection
You want to know your documents will be secure and free from damage. As you review their process, be sure to ask questions such as:
- How do they ensure confidentiality?
- Do they have a disaster recovery plan in place in case of fire or flood, etc. while your documents are at their site?
- What is their quality control policy?
You want to know your documents are in safe hands with people who understand the importance of your information and, therefore more likely to protect it.
Who Does the Work?
Even if you tour the facility, be sure you ask them if ALL work is handled there. Many scanning companies take on work with little to no work managed at their own facility. Instead, they outsource scanning tasks to smaller vendors to turn a profit, putting your documents at risk. You want to know the company you choose maintains complete control of your project from start to finish.
Level of Expertise and Experience
This can be hard to call if you aren’t familiar with the scanning industry. However, the scanning industry does have certified scanning specialists trained in the skill of scanning. Ask who performs the work and how they choose their team members. You want a team that does the work well, not a fly-by-night team consisting of random summer students or temps. Their level of expertise is directly related to the hardware they use. Also, get a feel for the consultants. Do they ask a lot of questions? Do they answer your questions concisely and ensure you understand before moving on?
Formatting, File Output, and Document Management
Remember, scanning is only one of several steps in the process. Ask them about the formats they offer and what they recommend based on your goals. Also, do they offer Optical character recognition (OCR) technology to translate scanned images into electronic text? What advice do they offer based on your current document management systems? If you don’t have a current system, what other technology will integrate with your tech stack? A good scanning company offers solutions that include either supplying or supporting efficient, secure document management systems (DMS) so you can access files any time where once the project is complete.
If they can easily throw out a quote without asking questions, this is a sign they are inexperienced or could have tons of hidden costs. The only way to provide an accurate quote is to ask for a representative sample that shows them the types of documents they’ll be scanning. From the type of format, such as large format, double-sided or microfilm, to the condition, they need to review the documents to offer an accurate estimate. They should also be willing to then provide a sample of their work using your representative sample box.
A good document scanning company has the experience to manage your document scanning project with skilled, certified technicians offering years of experience. They ask questions and provide information so you can make an informed decision to find the right document-scanning service for your project.
At MES, we work with you to ensure we understand the details of your project. From there, we create a comprehensive solution to ensure we meet your goals, deadline, and budget. Speak to our team today.