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Tips for Successful Document Capture

Document Capture may appear to be a simple process and many think document capture is: “Place the documents in the scanner and go”. But like so many undertakings, it sounds simpler than it is.

Here are a some tips for successfully executing document capture:

Pre-Planning is the Key to Document Capture

Document Retrieval – If the current manual filing system meets your needs, it can be essentially replicated electronically. However, a key benefit of document digitization is the ability to locate documents by more than one criterion. If a file is currently kept by Date and Subject, would users also want to retrieve by multiple additional items?

Naming and Indexing – The more index values, the easier to locate a specific document, but also the more expensive data capture. With the added capabilities of electronic imaging, users may want to locate documents by Date, Account ID, Project Number, Name, Originator, Recipients, Document Type Revision, Responsible Individual, etc. Cost trade-off is thus a key element for data capture and should be carefully evaluated.

Another consideration is defining the document capture project; is it an individual page, several related pages, pages including transmittal memos, entire folders? Manual approaches aren’t too concerned with such issues, but how items are grouped in a computer will determine how they can be found.

Personnel Considerations – You should evaluate the level of knowledge needed to process the files. If specific instructions for culling files, staple removal, orientation, compiling documents, etc. can be well-documented, entry-level personnel will likely be able to handle initial preparation. Higher level personnel may become bored with routine preparation and not only unsatisfied with the wok, but also prone to make errors.

You can train individuals on scanning, but it’s not just a question of stacking a pile of paper into a unit. Scanning should obviously generate legible images and you should decide how to switch from Black and White to Grayscale or Color. Today’s scanners can automatically scan both sides of a page and delete blank backsides, but standard deletion settings will likely delete backsides with minimal data or retain backs that are basically blank. You also should have procedures for handling very small items such as credit card receipts and oversize foldouts.

Don’t assume that preparation and scanning will run without supervision and quality standards.

Executing Successful Document Capture Projects

Projecting Resources – Using the rated speeds of scanners is similar to seeing a car’s speedometer that displays 160 miles per hour. In document capture, the speeds are correct from the moment a page enters the feeder until it exits, but the myriad of other actions can easily reduce rated speeds by 70%-80%. Before assigning resources, test actual production for a couple of hours and add time for rescanning, jam clearance, cleaning, breaks and meetings.

Tracking and Control – To successfully execute document capture, documents should be grouped into batches and tracked by operator, date and perhaps time. An exception reporting system will improve efficiency as procedures are modified. Who should receive tracking reports? Be sure they aren’t just filed away.

Quality Control plan – As in the case of previous steps of successful document capture, there are trade-offs to the level of inspection. If a page or pages are illegible or missing, what would be the exposure? At one extreme, sampling of images may be sufficient. At the other, every physical page is compared to its image and every index (file name) is validated. Consider rapid image viewing using thumbnail size views.

Performance standards – For every step of document capture, goals are needed: examples are how many pages per day should be scanned and what percentage of a box should be prepared (it’s almost impossible to measure preparation by pages). Tracking quality isn’t straightforward. A batch of documents might be especially hard to prepare and scan. Poor images might reflect a hardware problem, not an operator’s.

Anything else to consider? Of course…there’s lot’s more to consider in successful document capture, but that’s why microMEDIA is here to help; to provide expertise and efficient document conversions capture at your location or ours.

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