What is Document Imaging? Why is it Important?

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak
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In our increasingly digitized world, the transformative power of document imaging has become a vital in enhancing organizational efficiency and information accessibility. Document images, whether scanned or captured through advanced OCR technologies, serve as the keystones of this paradigm shift.

Document imaging is the process of converting physical or electronic documents into digital representations. It involves capturing, storing, and managing images to facilitate easy retrieval, sharing, and organization of information to improve efficiency and reduce reliance on traditional paper-based systems.

Modern DMS solutions often include imaging functionalities that go beyond robust conversion, encompassing features such as optical character recognition and meta-tagging through bar codes. These capabilities not only enhance accessibility but also enable seamless integration with other aspects of document management to create a comprehensive process that caters to the evolving needs of businesses across various sectors.

What are the benefits of document imaging?

benefits-of-document-imaging

The benefits of document imaging are:

Benefit #1- Reduced storage space

By converting physical documents into digital formats, organizations can minimize the need for extensive physical storage facilities, freeing up valuable office space and reducing associated costs.

Digital documents can be stored in a compact and organized manner on servers or cloud platforms, allowing for efficient data management without the spatial constraints imposed by traditional paper-based systems.

This not only enhances accessibility but also contributes to a more sustainable and cost-effective approach to document storage, aligning businesses with the demands of an increasingly digital and space-conscious landscape.

Did you know that maintaining your documents on paper costs 80% more than keeping them on electronic counterparts?

Benefit #2- Easier access to documents

By digitizing documents, businesses eliminate the constraints of physical filing systems and empower users to quickly retrieve, view, and share information with just a few clicks. Whether accessing documents remotely or within an office environment, digital formats enhance accessibility which helps enabling quicker decision-making processes and fostering collaboration.

File imaging not only accelerates workflow efficiency but also ensures that relevant data is readily available to improve productivity and responsiveness in today’s fast-paced business landscape.

Benefit #3- Enhanced information security

Electronic imaging enhances document security for your organization. Access and distribution of digital records are easily monitored and tracked. Most of the well-known systems available provide the full capabilities to track each operation made on the document.

Furthermore, document access control may be managed in a reasonably simple manner. Administrators may control who has access to which scanned documents, who can download attachments, who can delete and change documents, and so on.

Benefit #4- Audit compliance

It provides a traceable and secure system for storing, organizing, and retrieving documents, ensuring that businesses can easily adhere to audit trails and compliance standards. The ability to track document changes, access history, and implement encryption measures enhances the integrity and security of sensitive information.

It does not only simplify the audit process but also facilitates timely and accurate responses to compliance inquiries, safeguarding organizations against potential legal and regulatory risks.

Benefit #5- Boost collaboration

Did you know that 55% of employees spend more than an hour replicating the work of others?

This procedure facilitates seamless sharing and retrieval of documents, breaking down physical barriers and enabling collaborative efforts in real time. With easy access to a centralized repository of digital documents, team members can collaborate more efficiently, irrespective of geographical locations.

Annotations, comments, and version control features further enhance communication and teamwork to enable collaborative environment that promotes innovation and productivity.

Benefit #6- Disaster recovery

By working with digital documents, businesses mitigate the risk of losing vital data due to disasters such as fires, floods, or other emergencies.

Digital files, stored securely in the cloud or on offsite servers, ensure that crucial information remains accessible even if physical documents are compromised. This capability not only minimizes downtime in the aftermath of a disaster but also streamlines the restoration of operations.

What is Document Imaging Process?

The document imaging process involves converting physical or electronic documents into digital formats through scanning or other technologies, enabling efficient storage, retrieval, and management. This transformative process enhances accessibility and streamlines information workflows within organizations.

The process consists of 5 steps:

  1. Desktop Scanners: Devices that convert a paper to a digital format. Before deleting the paper file, it is critical to ensure that the digital copy is of the highest possible quality. it is important to note that at this stage the text in the image is human-readable but not machine-readable.
  2. Image compression/decompression: To make the most of the available digital storage space, images of documents should be compressed to lower sizes without sacrificing quality.
  3. Mass storage devices: The process should address where and how digital records will be preserved for future access and archiving.
  4. Indexing software: This sort of software will index the digital document, allowing users to search for text inside the image. When you convert a paper document to digital, the text inside the image is not recognized by computers by default, which is why sophisticated technologies are required.
  5. Destruction of paper documents: After being scanned, the majority of the original documents may be destroyed and recycled, helping to conserve the environment. It is also necessary to ensure that the original document is no longer required for any legal, governmental, or industrial responsibilities.

Imaging vs Scanning

scanning-vs-imaging

Imaging and document scanning are two related processes, yet they differ in their scope and objectives. In simple words, Scanning creates a digital copy of a document, while imaging creates a digital representation of the information in the document.

Document scanning is the process of converting a physical document into a digital image. This image is stored in a format such as JPEG, PDF, or TIFF. It should be used in applications when only the primary goal is to have a digital copy of a physical document.

Document imaging involves not only the scanning part of the image but also automatically extracting information from the digital format. It could be used where the extracted text will be used in downstream processes.

Is Document Imaging accurate?

Yes, the output could be accurate, but it relies on a number of factors. The quality of the document is one of the most critical factors. The accuracy will increase as its quality does. The quality of the scanners and the settings utilized with them are a key component also.

Problems to Avoid in Document Imaging

In this section, I will discuss with you, based on my own experience, the problems that you may encounter and how to prevent them.

There are two negative issues that can have an impact on the result of digital images. The first consideration is image quality; ensure that the image quality is appropriate to your company. Second, in order to improve the process, you need to train your employees to be familiar with the process.

Other considerations might include:

  • Reduce or remove text highlighting in paper documents. Text highlighting may have an impact on the outcome.
  • Ensure that your business is using high-quality scanners with various settings to maximize the output digital image. Scanner selection should be based on volume as well as criteria such as the sorts of documents to be scanned.
  • Before executing everything at once, do a quick test on a small batch of papers. You won’t believe how many clients had to redo the work because they discovered later in the process that the image quality was unacceptable.
  • If you are working with a large number of paper documents, you must verify that your system is capable of batch scanning and direct digital document import.

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