Plan before Scan(ning)

I don’t know about you, but I have a few piles of paper in my office.

Spring cleaning was when I expected to deal with them.

Now that summer is here, I am feeling some urgency about reckoning with them once and for all.

I am tempted to start pulling out staples, firing up the scanner, and watching the paper piles disappear into digital files. Ahhh…

Of course, there are risks with this approach.

One big risk is that when I am finished scanning, my documents will be only slightly more valuable and and slightly more accessible than they were before.

In fact, if I’m not careful, the only thing I will have accomplished is to have created an electronic “pile” of documents to replace my paper piles. Nothing more.

Thankfully, there is a system for when I am serious about extracting value out of my paper piles. I step back and create a Scan Plan.

A Scan Plan helps me consider the critical questions about how the scanned documents will be used, accessed, backed-up and kept secure.

It also helps assess the cost and timing of the effort before I begin.

The questions below help me create Scan Plans for small and large projects. Hats off to Records Management guru John Montaña. John’s article “Electronic Records Management in a Small Office” was the inspiration for this list.

What questions would you add?

– Barbara Ivey

1. What will we scan? Documents related to a specific process? A specific project? Be precise.
2. Are scanned documents in compliance with federal / industry regulations?
3. How will documents be indexed and organized?
4. Will optical character recognition (OCR) be used to allow for text searches?
5. What kind of performance is needed from the scanners?
6. What will the fully loaded cost of the system be?
7. How much storage space will the documents require?
8. What kind of workflow and space design is needed to keep up with the volume?
9. What daily throughput is needed to keep up with the volumes of documents we create and receive?
10. How many people scanning will it take to keep up with anticipated volumes?
11. Who will do all the scanning? When will they do it? Will they have the time?
12. Who needs to access the scanned documents?

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Why are you still using paper?

Because it is easy to make notes on? Because it is portable? Easy to read?  Easy to navigate?

For me it is all of the above.  And then some. 

I love paper.  I love the way it feels and the way it smells.  I love the form and function of a printed book.

But for business, I’m working on using less paper.  Really.  I’m trying.

This year I am focusing on keeping less paper.   With the help of my scanner, it’s going well.

But to give up editing and reading from paper…well, that is another matter entirely.  Realistically, it could take me the next decade or two to near that goal. 

What would have to change to make you ready to use less paper?   

For a quick history lesson on the promise of the paperless office, you will enjoy Thom Patterson’s CNN article,  “Is the ‘paperless’ office here at last?”

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