Scanning Documents – Is it worthwhile?

Document imaging is alive and well!  Contemporary wisdom is to head right for digital copy (“Day forward”), but this requires development and time; there is usually a multi-step process (aka “Phased Implementation”) that gives you the desired result, and starts the digital archive.

This is not a panacea for all situations.  If the documents need frequent retrieval, and you want to reclaim the storage and/or not pay a storage company to hold the boxes, then it very well may pay to scan and index your documents.  This is especially true if the documents need to be kept for many years, like workman’s compensation records, health records, and more.  Your business and legal teams will have an understanding of retention and destruction schedules.

Important steps

First, how big is the project?  Estimate the number of documents to be scanned, so you can estimate time, digital storage at 200 or 300 dpi, and time to index (either at time of scan or post-scan).  The minimum amount of meta data (indexing) needs to be determined, so you don’t “over index”.  And don’t forget to put together a project plan and team to do the work.  You will also need to have a post-scan destruction schedule for the original paper, and a retrieval mechanism that is secure.


For a small number of documents, say under 5-10,000, this can be accomplished using existing staff (they know the information best) with a part-time scanning schedule like 1-2 hours per day.  It can also be done on weekends, assembling a small team to do your presort and scan.

Larger projects may require a dedicated team for a period of time, then moving to a regular scanning schedule until a digital solution (electronic record) is found.  You may even be able to shred the paper shortly after a scan and verification.


Scanners come in a variety of sizes and feed rates.  The prices have come down substantially in recent years, and many come with software that can do a simple index of your documents.  Today’s scanners even do barcodes, so you can identify documents as you scan or use them as separator sheets between records.  Even a home office can get a small scanner for under $500 that can greatly reduce the number of file cabinets needed to hold records.   Coupled with the low cost of storage (you can buy terabytes for under $100) scanning is readily available for small and medium size businesses, or even home use (scan all those old family pictures, before they fade or become lost to time (who is that in the picture??).

In conclusion, scanning is still alive and well, and has a place in many organizations as a legitimate means to increase efficiency, reclaim storage space, and improve or eliminate paper based business processes!  It is definitely worthwhile!

Feel free to contact us at, we will be happy to suggest the best way to scan and store your important documents.