Use Your Copier to Digitize Your Paper Mountain


Are you tired of looking for the right file amongst a pile of paper documents?document_scanning_multifunction_copier_digitize_your_paper

Even if well organized, it takes time to physically retrieve a paper file from wherever it’s stored in your office and then to refile that paperwork once you’ve completed work on it. It’s much easier to quickly search on your computer for the same information.

Your multifunction printer can start to make mole hills of those mountains.

As always, you need to keep the “multi” in multifunction in mind when thinking about your “photocopy machine.” Beyond controlling your output costs through tracking your number of prints and copies with managed print services, you can use the scanning capabilities of your copier to turn paper copies into digital ones – and get rid of all that paper (or at LEAST move that paper to an outsource archive company).

Are Electronic Documents Legal?

The short answer is almost always yes. In heavily regulated industries and government, there could be legal requirements for keeping paper originals as records. However, for most companies and most business documents, digital copies are perfectly legal. Document scanning is not new, and if you do it correctly, you can scan paper to PDF (or JPEG or TIFF) and be able to use those electronic documents instead of physical paper ones for day-to-day operations of your business.

Turning Paper Digital With Your MFP

A few quick tips will show you how to scan paper to your computer via the scanner functionality on your copier; safely and quickly.

  1. Remove sticky notes, staples, paper clips, etc. from the documents.
  2. If a page is torn, scan it individually rather than through the automated document feeder so it doesn’t rip in half and require a service call! You can also tape smaller tears too.
  3. Place similar sized documents together and orient them all the same way.
  4. Be sure your resolution is set to 300 dpi.
  5. Set your destination file – your email (for single documents), a shared drive, your document management system, etc.
  6. Check the display screen for status – such as double-feeds to ensure that all documents were capture.
  7. Dispose of or file (for record-keeping reasons) the paper documents.
  8. Enjoy being able to find, use, and share documents from your computer rather than walking a piece of paper around your office.

Metadata for Retrieval

While paper files can also be lost, digital files are nearly impossible to find if you don’t index them when you scan them. While this is a topic than can quickly become very complex, there are two primary ways this is done: full-text or with keywords. Full-text indexing requires software (optical character recognition, OCR) to crawl and index all of the text in an electronic document. Keyword indexing attaches a smaller number of keywords to a document for future retrieval.

Your MFP will have at least one, and often multiple options, software program available to perform these tasks for you. Full-text indexing takes requires more IT storage space, but it’s harder to lose documents. Keywords (invoice number, customer name, form name, etc.) are less resource intensive, but mis-categorized files could be lost (though there are plenty of safeguards to ensure this doesn’t happen).

For high volumes of paper, it could be more efficient to purchase or lease a dedicated scanner (and implement document imaging software, such as from Laserfiche) and use your MFP for ad hoc scanning. But that’s also a column for another day.

Now, start clearing out your office and digitize your paper mountain!

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About The Author

Dave Quint, president and CEO of Advanced Systems Inc. and past president of BTA Mid-America. Dave has worked with copiers, MFPs, scanners, and document workflow software since joining Advanced Systems as a sales associate in 1989. His favorite part of the job -- “there is no greater joy than to see the positive impact these solutions have in our client’s businesses.’ You press print, we take care of the rest. Contact us for more information >>