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scanning service bureau
Select a Scanner
Before buying a scanner
there are a number of factors to consider.
/ Imaging system need to ask several key questions:
- Is your business fairly centralized,
with a large incoming mail-room operation? If so, you may want to consider
a centralized scanning approach.
- Does your organization consist
of remote offices or branches? If so, you're probably interested in
distributed capture to push the effort out to the source of the incoming
documents and to get documents into centrally managed processes as quickly
- Do you have a mix of both environments?
If so, some type of blended approach may make sense. (Scanner Selection Chart)
Page 2 --
and Imaging is
the process of digitizing documents to improve the business processes
and to ensure the proper management, control, and retention of that information.
The concept of imaging is fairly
simple: scan a document and convert it into a standard digital form, index
it, store it in a repository, and allow it to be used in the business processes.
For companies with remote offices or branches, such as insurance or banking,
there is a clear need to capture incoming documents at the source and control
them as quickly as possible. Not only does this eliminate shipping costs,
but it also ensures that documents such as enrollment forms are processed
faster, allowing a company to bill or collect from customers sooner. There
has been a growing demand for smaller Workgroup and Departmental scanners and multifunction
devices to support such applications, as well as software that allows users
to drive the capture process. Scanners rated at a higher speed include
Concomitantly, customers have growing expectations to be able to
access information, including all correspondence and documents exchanged
with the companies with which they do business. They expect the
companies to have at their fingertips all relevant documentation, such
as invoices, bills, original enrollment forms, claims forms, and
notices, in order to handle inquiries or resolve problems. More than
that, customers expect to be able to access such information themselves.
With imaging, organizations can choose to make all relevant information
available to customers over the internet, and not just information
originating in an electronic format or data coming from databases.
Page 3 -- Imaging technology makes great sense for companies with a need to
reduce the risk of noncompliance and the costs of discovery during audits
or litigation. Building a
/ imaging system is more complicated than just scanning a document and storing
it. For the system to work effectively, there are several steps involved.
The first step involves scanning or capturing a document with a scanner
or multifunction printer with scanning capabilities, or importing the document
from an electronic source such as a fax machine, an E-mail server, a file
server, or a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site. This step typically involves
hardware from vendors such as
Kodak. This stage may also involve capture
software that can drive the device and can convert the image into a standard
imaging format such as
PDF. Capture-software systems can also
be used to manage batches of scanned images throughout the capture and export
The next step
often involves enhancing the electronic image by performing actions
such as removing speckles, fixing the alignment, and enhancing the borders.
Such enhancements are typically performed by filters that are provided by
capture-software systems or imaging software like Adobe Photoshop.
Then comes the most
crucial step: indexing and recognition, which involves assigning descriptions
to the images or capturing data from the images themselves. This can be
done manually or be automated with software engines for optical-character
recognition and intelligent character recognition of handwriting. Most capture
systems provide manual indexing interfaces as well as recognition engines.
To ensure that images are indexed properly, most capture-software systems
provide quality-assurance or quality-control modules that allow for a visual
review of images and descriptions before committing them to storage.
Grover Park Consulting
"Smart Tools for Smart Business"©
creates custom databases for specialized applications.
Page 4 --
Most software systems also provide
capabilities for exporting images and data in standard formats, such as
PDF for the images and
XML, or relational data for the indexes.
In addition, some capture-software systems provide direct integration with
content-management systems such as those from
CompuThink, and FileNexus by Loris technologies.
Capture vendor Kofax,
for example, can integrate its systems with products
from more than 90 vendors or content-management and related tools.
Once documents have been captured and converted
into an electronic format, businesses need a way to manage, store, and archive
them. Imaging or document management systems provide the repository for
the management, searching, and retrieval of images, and for the long-term
and archiving of the images. For applications that require regulatory
compliance or extremely long-term storage, systems such as optical storage
libraries or redundant magnetic or tape libraries are required. (Storage
Many of these systems also provide tools to distribute images via traditional
print-based publishing as well as via Web sites, E-mail, and fax.
The major requirements in this type of
deployment are volume of documents and complexity of capture, processing,
and routing. Some businesses have a high volume of documents, consisting
of several different document types, that need to be quickly and differentially
processed and routed. Don't overlook
how the imaging system will fit within your IT environment. Any system you
deploy should have the architecture and scalability to handle the types
of applications you throw at it. When looking at imaging systems, be sure
to consider the technology partnerships and interfaces that the imaging
Page 5 -- One key concern
is the volume and the sophistication of your capture requirements. Volumes
are easy to understand, and they're the basis for the traditional approach
to differentiating among imaging systems. Some systems can handle only a
few thousand images per day, while others can handle hundreds of thousands.
Some applications require capture of
multiple fields from multi-page forms, while others require color capture.
Small and simple imaging applications, for example, consist primarily of workgroup or
departmental capture focused on paper
reduction. They require minimal indexing or other processing and minimal
incorporation into downstream business processes. Typical applications include
capture to file systems, E-mail folders, or a repository for simple search
and retrieval for compliance or customer service. On the other hand,
production scanners handle big
and complex imaging applications require significant indexing or other processing
to incorporate the images into the business processes.
Page 6 -- Companies that have immediate requirements
in areas such as regulatory compliance or risk reduction may be tempted
to simply make a minimal investment in imaging technology. But that approach
is shortsighted and could hurt in the long run. Managers should take a step
back and consider imaging as part of a broader strategy for companywide
content management. Such a strategy should include approaches for addressing
business needs in areas such as
Web content management, digital-asset management, records management, enterprise
report management, and content aggregation and distribution, among other
things. And while it may not be realistic for an organization to standardize
on a single platform or technology set for all its content-management needs,
it makes sense to at least have a strategy for how such needs will be addressed.
Current regulatory compliance or risk reduction
21 CFR part 11
: Adopted in 1997 for the healthcare and pharmaceutical
industries, this law defines the recommendations for managing audit
trails, access control and electronic records retrieval. On February 20,
2003, the FDA released a new draft--Draft Guidance for Industry; Part
11, Electronic Records; Electronic Signatures - Scope and
Application—which changes the requirements for electronic records.
For more information:
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act : Passed in
1999, this act requires financial services companies to implement
safeguards for customers’ current and legacy information. In essence,
the act makes it illegal for a financial
institution to share customers’ “nonpublic personal information” with
consumers and allows them to opt-out of that disclosure. For more
This 1996 regulation provides national
standards for the healthcare industry, in order to ensure consistency
that makes it easier to process electronic claims. The law also enforces
the security and privacy of personal health information.
Adopted in 2002 for all public companies
following the accounting debacles sparked by Enron, this act requires
that all public companies keep audit papers for five years. It also
makes altering, destroying or concealing relevant documents punishable
by up to 20 years in prison and a fine. For more information:
Another key decision that businesses
need to make is whether to invest in imaging as part of an overall content-management
strategy or offload imaging operations to an outsourcer. More forward-thinking
organizations are rolling their imaging approaches into their enterprise
content-management strategies. Others, however, don't have the time or resources
to devote to content management but still have needs in areas such as regulatory
compliance and risk reduction. In many cases, they're turning to outsourcers
instead of making departmental
technology investments and adding to the support loads.