Document imaging makes up a large part of the technology behind the movement towards a paperless office. Even in offices that have opted for electronic documents, some documents still arrive on paper. Document imaging software converts these into digital documents, allowing the original document to be shredded and recycled.
- Document imaging involves replicating paper documents, and it’s not something new. In the past, paper documents were imaged on microfilm to save space and to store long term. Fax machines copied paper documents and transmitted the images across long distances while local copiers provided additional copies when needed.
- These days, a document scanner and its software convert a paper document into an electronic document to integrate it into an electronic workflow.
- The software first creates an image of the scanned document in a preferred format, such as TIFF, JPEG, PNG, or BMP. The text in the image is human-readable but not machine-readable. Computers will see it as simply a picture and not as words.
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software recognizes text characters in images and converts the image into a machine-readable text document. Once OCR processing is over, the documents can be indexed using the full text or additional metadata. Metadata is simply information about the document such as the date of creation, author, and one or more unique identifiers.
- Before they are scanned, documents can be attached with a barcode page containing customized metadata, and a barcode indexer can index them immediately using the metadata represented by the barcode.
- Document imaging is an essential component of electronic document management systems. Large enterprises with a continuous flow of paper documents at numerous locations can transfer all these documents to the electronic workflow by scanning and indexing the paper documents as they arrive.
- Document imaging helps reduce paper-storage requirements and streamlines workflow, easing the management of documents. Significant cost reductions and business-process improvements can be expected as a result.
- Once imaged, most of the original paper documents can be shredded and recycled, contributing to environmental protection.
- Document imaging can contribute to faster recovery from disasters like a fire or flood. Electronic documents can be backed up systematically, and the backups can be stored in separate locations, including on the Web.
- Electronic discovery of particular documents for litigation or audit purposes is possible in an electronic document management system with appropriate document indexing. This is much faster and more dependable than physical discovery in a paper-based system.
- When selecting a document imaging system, you should consider your specific needs. If you have a large volume of paper documents, you might need a system with automated facilities for batch scanning, automatic indexing, and document classification. Systems these days come with numerous functions, and a look at these can help you select one that is tailored to your requirements.
- Document imaging can be entrusted to third-party agencies if the volume is high. These agencies will have the experience and expertise to handle all the tasks involved, such as sorting the paper documents, ensuring high image quality, maximizing optical character recognition, and ensuring the safety of the paper and electronic data.
Document imaging is an essential requirement for streamlined business processes in both large enterprises and small businesses. Modern document management systems typically come with imaging and incidental functions such as meta-tagging of documents using bar codes. Careful examination of the various options provided by these systems can help you select a solution tailored to your requirements.