How to Choose the Right Document Scanner for Your Business
DO you know that document scanning can increase your productivity if your organisation is prepared to take the full advantage of the e-revolution? Digital scanning and document conversion are growing trends in businesses, as organisations look to “go paperless,” reducing the amount of time and money usually spent on paper or hardcopy documents handling and work processes.
What is a Scanner?
A scanner is a device that converts printed matter into digital information that your computer can use. Using small electronic components they record how much light is reflected off the item being scanned, and report that information to the computer. To see a whole image they break it up into cells called pixels.
Types of scanners
Flatbed: The most common desktop scanners resemble photocopier machines, in that the item being scanned rests on a glass plate while the scanning head moves underneath it.
Sheetfed: These are like a fax machine and move the page being scanned past the scanning head. Sheetfed scanners tend to be less exact than their flatbed counterparts because of the difficulty of moving a sheet of paper without introducing distortions. It is a good choice for handling lots of paper or photographs unattended.
Slide: These need special attention in the scanning process because they need a scanner that passes light through the image rather than reflecting light off it. Because of their small size, slides also need to be scanned on a unit with very high resolution.
Drum: Drum scanners are the most effective and versatile type of scanner, but they are expensive and harder to operate. Their advantage lies in the fact that they typically use photo-multiplier tubes which are a better quality and the original is rotated past the scanner heads a large number of times making it much more accurate.
In a situation where your company is thinking about document scanning, you need to give some thought to what kind of scanner to purchase/deploy. Choosing the right scanner can make a big difference, you can potentially save hundreds or thousands of naira and avoid a significant amount of frustration, as document scanners are becoming important pieces of equipment for scanning old documents, textbooks, drawings, maps, pictures, signatures, logos and so on. It is also important to have a document management strategy in place before you buy a scanner for your business.
Benefits of Document Scanning
Document Scanning involves the conversion of paper to electronic documents, creating opportunities to increase efficiency in your organisation.
Document Capture: Scanning documents allows you to easily convert paper documents to compact, universally viewable PDF files, and create text-editable/searchable electronic files of your hard copy documents, enabling electronic archive, management and distribution of critical documents.
Document Storage: Storing documents electronically allows you to eliminate paper clutter and storage costs, leaving you with better organized and archive of your documents, which facilitate fast, easy document retrieval and protect against hard copy damage, fading and loss.
Document Management: Managing documents electronically allows you to access documents remotely, decreasing the time for document search and retrieval. It also facilitate audit trails, security and controls, eliminating costs associated with document handling, shipping and faxing.
Document Distribution: Electronic documents can be quickly and cost-effectively distributed to network folders, websites and other content management systems. It can also be distributed to remote printers, email, fax, CD’s, USB memory devices and other media.
Buying a good scanner
There are several questions an organisation needs to consider before investing in new scanning equipment:
What is the business needs for this new scanner (How much paper do you need to scan and who will operate the scanner)?
What kind of documents will be scanned?
What level of image quality is required in scanned documents?
Who will be using the scanner?
How much volume of document scanning will be done with this scanner
Finally, the most important steps in finding the right answer for your company are to conduct a candid evaluation of your needs and to make those needs known to the vendors with whom you are working with or intend to contract. Get input from your staff and understand their daily challenges. Communicate those challenges clearly and thoroughly to your vendor. A good vendor will listen closely to your needs, will ask a lot of questions to make sure he is not presenting solutions that fail to match present and future needs, and will provide multiple options that you can consider.
Oyedokun Ayodeji Oyewole is the President of Records and Information Management Awareness Foundation (RIMA Foundation), a Not-for-profit NGO. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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