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Document Scanning and Archiving - By the Numbers

by Paul Ruby

I recently read a white paper put together by AIIM*, the Association for Information and Image Management, and it was pretty interesting. In June and July of this year, they received surveys from 459 businesses that employ digital data capture in one capacity or another. The respondents were companies of all sizes and represent a cross-section of practically every industry you could imagine. They also employ a wide range of data capture - some archival (our specialty), some contemporaneous (scan-to-process, as it's called). As it relates to what we do, I'm going to share some of their findings with you.

"Back-file conversion is the most commonly outsourced task." This makes sense. In many cases, people can keep up with scanning the new files that come through the door, but they cannot make a significant dent in old ones, no matter how hard they try. That's the problem we're here to solve. In archival scanning cases, files are manually indexed, according to two-thirds of the respondents. This is currently the preferred method for archival scanning, though OCR (optical character recognition) which allows for free text search is certainly gaining steam as it becomes more accessible.

In their statistics for companies doing archival scanning, two numbers stood out to me. First, 62% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "[w]e have made a very real savings in paper storage costs," while only 9% disagreed or strongly disagreed. If you have lots of paper or you're in the NY metro area, I have a hard time thinking you'd fall into that 9%. In addition to savings, 71% either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "[w]e have much improved response times and/or better customer service," while only 1% disagreed or strongly disagreed. In other words, in addition to saving money, your business' performance can improve with digitally archiving your old paper files.

Often when I'm meeting with a prospective client, I can the wheels turning in their head - "how long will this scanning take to pay for itself?" is what they're thinking. Here's a quote directly from the white paper: "Scanning and capture projects have always scored highly in AIIM surveys for ROI, generally showing payback periods of between 12 and 18 months. We have also seen that scan-to-archive projects tend to produce a faster return than the scan-to-process developments ." Even in scan-to-process cases, over 60% of survey respondents said they achieved ROI as fast or faster than anticipated, while only 13% said they were struggling to achieve an adequate return on their investment.

If you have any questions about scanning your documents or you'd like a free on-site demo of our service, please call us at 212.545.0818. *AIIM is a non-profit organization that's been around for many years; paraphrasing their words, they help their members understand the challenges associated with managing documents, content, records, and business processes and they act as intermediaries between users, vendors, and the marketplace in general. As a disclaimer, we're not affiliated with them in any meaningful way.

About The Author

Paul Ruby is General Counsel at ILW.COM. Mr. Ruby is based out of ILW.COM's New York headquarters after several years in private practice in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mr. Ruby is a graduate of Brown University and Marquette Law School. He is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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