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The Real Cost of Imaging: In-House vs. Outsourcing

When you convert paper records to digital images, your organization becomes more efficient because everything gets faster, including the process of indexing, retrieving, storing, sharing and maintaining your records.

The question is, should you attempt to image everything yourself using existing resources, or is it more cost effective and efficient to partner with an imaging provider?

To arrive at the best decision for your practice, it is critical that you have an accurate idea of the actual costs of doing it yourself using in-house resources. We’ve put this resource together to help you better understand what should be considered in your calculation.

1. Determine Your Overall Project Requirements

A great place to start is understanding the scope of the project and what will be required. You will need to estimate the following:

  • Project duration
  • Number of images to be scanned
  • Number of staff required
  • How many records to be scanned per month
  • Number of records to be scanned
  • Number of images to be scanned per month

Clarity about these numbers will enable you to create a cost framework for the project from start to finish.

2. Scanner Investment

Obviously there are actual scanner costs, both in terms of the equipment purchase and the associated labor required, and these are a significant part of any overall cost assessment.


2.1 Equipment

When considering the cost of equipment, think in terms of:

  • Total hardware costs (i.e. how many and what type of scanners, bar code scanners, computers, carts, etc. will be required)
  • The cost to maintain the equipment
  • Consumable costs (i.e. bar code sheets, ink, toner, etc.)

2.2 Labor Costs

Aside from equipment costs, there are associated labor costs including:

  • The actual manual scanning process
  • Preparing the documents for imaging (i.e. pulling out staples, repairing damaged pages, affixing odd size pages to carrier sheets, etc.)
  • File reassembly and re-filing
  • Data entry costs
  • Applying multiple quality control steps

3. Management Costs


Don’t forget that any imaging project will require management, and this adds additional personnel cost considerations, including:

  • Project Manager for conversion
  • Various IT resources including database administration, development support, and project management
  • A conversion supervisor

4. Facilities and Utilities Costs

When it comes to calculating imaging project costs, it is easy to overlook the hard facilities and utilities costs. Be sure to include these numbers in your assessment:

  • Price per square foot of dedicated project space
  • Electrical and utilities usage
  • Cabling and networking
  • Etc.

5. Miscellaneous Costs

As expected with all big projects, there are a wide range of miscellaneous costs to consider as well. Some of these include:

  • Additional hardware and consumables required (PC’s, servers, network equipment, displays, furniture, etc.)
  • Labor costs on overtime and/or beyond the established project timeline
  • HR costs associated with recruiting, managing, firing and promoting
  • Inventory clerk and labor to print separator sheets
  • Office consumables (tape, folders, copier costs, etc.)
  • Attrition costs from staff turnover
  • Unemployment insurance costs
  • Cost of living increases for longer projects
  • Senior management/executive time on project

Leave it to Document Imaging of the Southwest

Obviously, there are significant resources and costs associated with an imaging project beyond just buying a scanner and employing someone to run it. At Document Imaging of the Southwest we can help with your imaging project, either on-site at your facility or off-site at our offices. If partnering with a provider makes sense for your organization, please get in touch with us at 505.821.0841.

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

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