Companies of all kinds may need to undertake hard copy to soft copy conversion projects. Reasons for doing so include records scanning for compliance purposes, saving space by storing important information as compact and manageable files or seeking to share content more easily with partner organizations.
Document conversion means more than just scanning the content. Companies can and should use more advanced means such as optical character recognition (OCR) to ensure that electronic files are fully searchable in their document management systems, rather than merely being static image files.
Once organizations have decided to digitize their physical documents, they need to determine how they will accomplish this process. One possible avenue is to purchase document capture software. A second is to hire a third-party partner to carry out the digitization. Deciding which method to employ is an important decision. There are multiple factors at stake, and the best answer may depend on companies’ unique needs.
Companies Weigh the Benefits
When AIIM (the Association for Intelligent Information Management) asked users of in-house and outsourced document processing for feedback, the results reflected some of the differences between these methods. Companies that chose to outsource typically did so because they were interested in reducing their scanning services cost or boosting efficiency, with some feeling they lacked the in-house abilities to do effective document processing. With that said, outsourcing is not the way the majority of organizations process their documents – only 34 percent of respondents employed the method.
Organizations that had stopped outsourcing their digitization projects noted that the third parties they had worked with didn’t support next-generation technology, and in some cases would fail to create a positive or measurable return on investment. Furthermore, companies felt they were losing control when they used third-party document processing services, and that the providers they hired failed to meet service-level agreements.
Companies may choose to base their outsourcing decision on the role they envision for their data processing functions. Organizations that want to focus all their internal attention on their core business functions – and put document processing out of mind – may find what they are looking for in outsourcing. On the other hand, businesses that want more control over their content and the capture process may find this model doesn’t suit their needs.
Organizations Ponder the Technology Gap
As the AIIM survey revealed, many companies fear that third-party organizations are unable to keep up with improvements in digitization technology and scanner software. This is one of the major points in favor of in-house document capture and conversion. When firms take a direct interest in purchasing their capture solutions, they can focus on getting the latest functionality.
This technology includes advanced text capture algorithms. The best OCR software is capable of recognizing letters and numbers even when those characters may be partially obscured within the original paper documents. Using a less advanced capture system may lead to failures on this front, hurting companies’ ability to create fully functional, searchable archives of their content. Therein lies one of the main reasons to avoid document process outsourcing: uncertainty about the type of software possessed by the third party.
Organizations that are willing to purchase their own capture solutions and use their own personnel for processing gain increased oversight over the document processing functions. Companies’ data is becoming an increasingly valued and protected commodity, further strengthening the case to keep scanning and conversion in-house.
Options Suit Various Objectives
The discussion around whether to outsource documents scanning is a microcosm for the more general question of outsourcing. Organizations mostly interested in trimming money from the budget or saving hours that could be spent on the work internally may end up deciding they are ready to outsource this process. However, these companies will have to accept a reduced amount of control over both technological choice and day-to-day operations.
Document processing has become an essential pillar of running a modern, digitally enabled company. As such, it’s natural for there to be multiple ways to handle this function. The end result is universal: Paper documents and static image files become more convenient content, searchable by document management software in formats such as PDF. The methods businesses use to achieve this end will be determined by those firms’ needs and their leaders’ choices.