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Imaging Guide: Selecting a Document Imaging Provider

Your organization is going ahead with an imaging project, and in discussing the in-house vs outsourcing question, you’ve decided that outsourcing to an imaging provider makes sense. So how do you find the right company to partner with?

We’ve put together a high-level list of considerations and questions you should have in mind when it comes to selecting your document imaging provider.

1. Specialized Knowledge Workers


Imaging records isn’t just a question of someone standing in front of a scanner to feed documents into it.

In order to get all the benefits of imaging, ensure that potential providers use relevant records management best practices during the project and that these are transferred to the new outputs. People working on the project need to always be thinking in terms of standardizations, consistencies, classification systems and so on.

It is particularly important that your provider has a clear and explicit understanding of your overall business objectives. Keep in mind that a successful project starts with the identification of which information needs to be captured (in terms of taxonomy, meta data, etc.).

Your provider should have a methodology for determining things like:

  • Project drivers
  • Desired project outcomes (i.e. risk management, improved compliance, litigation)
  • End-user requirements (i.e. field level, IT, business)
  • Relevant legislation and regulations

This means project participants must be skilled knowledge workers with an understanding of both your business and records management.

2. Information Access, Integrity and Security

disw_provider_02If you need information from files undergoing scanning, how will you get it?

Having access lo all of your information during the scanning project is critical.

A good vendor will have a methodology for tracking records from your site to their site (manifesting those records), and a transparent process for doing so.

Make sure that your provider can segregate your records at their facility to prevent contamination from other records and documents from other client projects.

Remember that for both security and legislative/regulatory compliance, you need to be able to show who had access to information and when. Any good provider will have a clearly demonstrable process for establishing a chain of custody.

3. Quality Assurance

disw_provider_03The vendor should have a well-tested QA process to ensure that images will be of good quality, contain the information they should, and go where they need to go.

Ask potential providers:

  • Will human quality control be done on my collection?
  • Does your QA process involve limited sampling or will you be checking each page individually?
  • What is your accuracy guarantee?
  • What is the window for the client to identify quality issues?

It is also a good idea to request that prospective vendors provide a sample o{ their process output using your own documents, as well as references from previous clients (preferably in your industry).

4. Equipment and Technology

Producing a good quality image and ensuring it is indexed accurately and distributed correctly is also dependent on having the right equipment and software in place. The right software creates the ability to automate as much of the process as possible and greatly reduces the “human error” component of any scanning project.

Ideally, a good provider will be using:

  • Software with the intelligence, features and functionalities to systematically handle image enhancement, data identification and advanced processing without the need for manual input.
  • Production-level document scanners capable of handling the various document formats they will encounter in your collection.


These variables will help ensure that your images meet required quality, and that the information contained within the documents can be easily found by your end users.

5. Facility and Personnel Security

You need to know where your documents are going and who will be handling them. Make sure your vendor’s employees are bound by confidentiality agreements and are required to undergo background checks. Most importantly, the vendor’s facility itself has to be secure. Ask about the facilities monitoring capabilities, how they control access to their facility, disaster recovery and so on.

6. Costs

disw_provider_06There is a lot to consider when it comes to pricing out a project, but at a minimum you need to be clear on whether a provider’s quote is a comprehensive (i.e. per-image) quote. If document preparation, indexing, quality control, etc. will be an additional cost you need to know that up front.

It is helpful to remember that the further you “drill down”, the more expensive indexing and scanning becomes.

A general rule of thumb for pricing is as follows:

  • $0.08 to $0.10 at the file level (scan entire contents as one image)
  • $0.14 to $0.18 at the category level (scan by dividers within file)
  • $0.22 and up at the document level (imaging every document into separate .PDF)

Be aware too that minimums can apply, and that volume-based pricing is available from some vendors.

7. End User Requirements

disw_provider_07If your personnel can’t or won’t use the images produced in the scanning process, the whole project can be undermined. A good vendor will have a methodology for understanding how people will actually search for and use these documents, and be able to match the imaging output to these requirements.

8. Return of Scanned Documents

So you’ve scanned your documents, what happens to the physical records that remain? Are they going to inactive storage? Depending on that decision, do your physical records have to be returned in the same state?

The truth is that a document imaging project doesn’t end with the scanning process. You may have to ensure that any remaining physical documents and files are returned and can be accessed by users again.

For any retained paper records, make sure your provider has a plan for the timely and secure return of all scanned documents. Your imaging partner needs to make sure they are returned in the same or better condition as when they left, in a way that satisfies all of your end user and compliance requirements

9. Day Forward Considerations

An all-encompassing scanning project isn’t just about clearing out your back files. From a day forward basis you need to think about what happens to new paper documents that get created in the course of business and other paper documents that come into your organization.

Find out how potential providers can help with designing a mechanism for scanning new documents going forward, and what services, processes and mechanisms (ie: creating a small scanning area at your facility) they offer for scanning new documents.

Talk to Document Imaging of the Southwest

disw_provider_00We’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of companies image their records. Here’s why they work with us:

Our Experience

We’ve been helping companies with records management for decades. This means we’ve developed a deep understanding of the records management challenges faced by today’s businesses, and more importantly, how to solve them, particularly when it comes to imaging engagements.

Our Management, Knowledge Workers and Processes

Imaging records requires specific knowledge of how business in different works and how the information is used. Through our extensive records management experience we’ve developed a deep understanding of businesses in every vertical. When you hire Document Imaging of the Southwest, you get:

  • An experienced project management team.
  • The ability to provide recommendations and suggestions specific to the driving need and reason for the imaging initiative.
  • Knowledge workers with extensive experience in your business including document identification and the various indexing points.
  • State of the art equipment and software capable of handling the various document formats you will encounter during your imaging project.
  • The flexibility to quickly increase resource count, processing equipment and production hours to meet required deadlines.
  • The option to process files on site or off site – or a combination of both.

If you’d like to talk to someone at Document Imaging of the Southwest about help with your imaging project, please get in touch at 505.821.0841 today.

— Thanks and a tip of the hat to Tab Products!

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