Questions and Answers

Document Imaging Questions and Answers

Q. What is document imaging?
A. Document Imaging refers to the process of capturing the image of a paper document and turning it into digital form. A document scanner is usually used for capturing the document image, although other imaging methods are also available. Once scanned or imported, documents are indexed using one or more parameters (e.g. invoice number) and stored in an electronic archive such as a hard drive. The indexes will be used later to find the desired document images. Images stored in the electronic archive can be retrieved, viewed, printed and emailed.

Q. What is document management?
A. Document Management refers to the systematic organizing, tracking, storing and retrieving of documents and files. A computerized document management system can manage not only document image files but also many kinds of digital files.

Q. Is document management only for very large companies?
A. Electronic document imaging systems used to be very expensive. Prices of a sophisticated document imaging systems range from tens of thousands of U.S. dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Only large companies could afford owning such systems. That is why there are third-party document imaging service bureaus who provide outside service to companies which could not afford to have their own systems.

As prices of hardware and software have come down a lot, medium and small companies can now afford to enjoy the benefits of document imaging and management.

Q. How can a document imaging and management system benefit its users?
A. By turning your paper documents into compressed electronic files, you can make your documents more manageable, eliminating the clutter of paper.

Using the search function of a document imaging & management system, you can save time when looking for your files (document images or other digital files). The chance of losing mis-filed documents is minimized. Record keeping becomes an easy task. Related documents can be grouped together for easy reference.

The bottom-line is that you will save money and time by having an efficient information and document management system.

Q. Any examples of document imaging and management applications?
A. The scope of application is limited only by your imagination and observation. Examples:
-- Personnel department: For keeping resume records, sick leave records, promotion records, salary pay-stub, etc.

-- Accounting department: For keeping bank check images (payment processing), invoices, tax forms, expense report forms,  etc.

-- Sales department: For keeping hand-written quotations, sales notes. For storing customer business cards, product brochures, presentation materials, etc. 

-- Engineering department: For organizing product design specs. For managing drawing files of projects, etc.

-- Shipping department: For keeping whole sets of shipping documents.

-- Customer service department: For tracking warranty cards, RMA forms etc.

-- Hospitals, clinics and doctor’s office: For keeping patients records, prescription records.

-- Lawyer’s office: For keeping legal correspondence, contracts, case records, etc.

-- Insurance underwriters, brokers and agents: For keeping policy copies and claim forms.

-- Clubs and associations: For tracking members records.

-- Banks and credit unions: For keeping loan application and approval forms, etc.

Q. How can I find a document that I've saved in a document imaging system?
A. When you originally saved the document, you would have entered some key information that is indexed in order to find a specific document when using the search engine of a document imaging and management system.

Q. Do I have to use any particular brand or model of scanner ?
A. Any standard TWAIN compliant scanner should work with most document imaging software without any problem. There are other scanner drivers such as ISIS but these are usually a lot more expensive than TWAIN drivers. Also the faster the scanner, the more benefit you will get from the document imaging system. Your choice of scanner usually depends on the volume of paper documents to be scanned per day.

The following are some general guidelines for scanner speeds:
-- Personal and SOHO use: 4 to 10 PPM (Pages Per Minute)
-- Small volume: 15 to 20 PPM
-- Moderately large volumes (e.g. law firms): 45 to 50 PPM
-- High volumes: 100+ PPM

Scanners with automatic paper feed are recommended. Duplex scanners are useful if you need to scan both sides of two-sided documents.

Q. Should I save my images in color or black and white?
A. Color images take up more storage space than black & white ones. Therefore, when scanning documents where color is not a critical issue, black and white mode is recommended.

Q. What resolution should I set my scanner to keep my file size down?
A. For most documents you seldom have to exceed 200 dpi (Dots Per Inch). For images that will be used with an OCR program, try to scan at 300 dpi for best character recognition results, although 200 dpi is also often used for OCR. The higher the dpi, the bigger the file. Note: Cropping or deleting unwanted or unused areas around the actual image or information you want to save will also reduce the file size.

Q. What if my image didn't scan well?
A. A good document imaging system, such as Microfile XE, usually provides you with many tools and filters to correct and change the look of your images. Options like rotate, crop, flip, invert, brightness, contrast, gamma correction to name just a few, will help you enhance your image quality. Alternatively you can rescan the document. Some modern scanners come with built-in auto-image correction feature.

Q. Can I add new pages or delete existing pages from my document records?
A. A good document imaging system usually allows you to add pages or remove pages from your documents whenever necessary.