Document Conversion Services – Everything You Need to Know

Document Conversion

Paper: The more of it you have, the harder it is to get rid of.

For more than one hundred years, businesses have relied on paper as the main method of recording, storing, and distributing information. Trusted, tried and true, paper is often comfortable and familiar.

Unfortunately, paper is also expensive to store, inefficient to use, and difficult to organize, especially at high volumes.

Businesses who rely on outdated paper processes face operational challenges that can be difficult to overcome. Access to information is slow and expensive, and valuable business insights are left undiscovered, lost in a sea of paper piles.

For these reasons, implementing an electronic record keeping system should be a top priority for every business.

However, kicking paper to the curb for good isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

Scanning, organizing, and tagging all of those documents is time consuming and labor intensive. And without the proper planning, equipment, and experience, the end result may not live up to your expectations.

In short, the risks of going at it alone are far too great, and the payoff is almost non-existent.

Fortunately, there is a better way.

A professional document conversion service is by far the easiest and most affordable way to digitize a large volume of paper records all at once. The benefits of using a document conversion service over doing it yourself are clear: experience and security.

Companies who specialize in document conversion combine their many years of expertise with commercial quality scanning equipment and software to help you avoid the pitfalls commonly encountered by businesses who choose to handle the task themselves.

Plus, they do it all securely, following strict protocols and procedures that help protect the confidentiality and privacy of your data.

Of course, many businesses have questions about where to begin, how to operate normally during the conversion process, and how to prevent paper from piling up in the future.

Whether you have a few thousand documents to scan or a backlog of a million files, a professional document conversion service is by far the easiest way to modernize your record keeping system. 

What are the benefits of a document conversion service?

The main goal of a document conversion service is to help businesses build a faster, more efficient way of storing, searching for, and retrieving information.

No matter what industry you are in, the benefits of going paperless are endless. Moving away from inefficient paper processes provides an immediate boost in productivity. It also helps you enhance the security of your records. Other advantages of a document conversion service include:

  • Immediate Access: Locating your files is near-instantaneous, eliminating wasted time thumbing through stacks of paper to find what you’re looking for. Conduct keyword searches against specific index fields to quickly locate your records.
  • Better Organization: Key identifiers on your documents, including invoice numbers, client ids, dates, or pretty much anything else you can think of can be converted to searchable metadata via OCR or manual data entry, helping you categorize your documents more effectively.
  • Cost Savings: The physical footprint of onsite paper storage makes it an expensive way to store your documents. By digitizing your records, you can store thousands of files for pennies per dollar compared to commercial office space charged per square foot.
  • Improved Collaboration: Paper files can only be in one person’s hands at a time. With digital files, you can share data with multiple team members simultaneously, regardless of physical location.
  • Disaster Prevention: Paper records are prone to damage, loss, and theft. Digital files can be secured by encryption and backed up to multiple locations, making a data loss disaster nearly impossible.
  • Reclaim Space: Re-appropriate your new-found office space for more important tasks while reducing paper clutter.

How do document conversion services work?

Transforming a wall of filings cabinets into a cloud based document management system might seem like magic, but in reality, the process is quite simple. From paper to paperless, the entire process can be broken down into 4 simple steps:

  1. Preparation
  2. Document Scanning
  3. Indexing
  4. Disposal

Step 1. Preparation

The first step to any document conversion project is preparation. When converting a large number of documents, you’re going to need to prioritize and organize.

You can start by grouping your files by type and level of sensitivity, and be as detailed as you can. Even if identifying and organizing by the box full is the best that you can do, it’s better than nothing.

Remember that the more organized you are upfront, the more streamlined the process will be. It’s much easier to make plans before the scanning starts, rather than trying to course-correct mid-project.

Deciding which documents you will need to access throughout the conversion process, and which you can do without temporarily is another important part of this process.

Depending on the number of files you need to digitize, converting and indexing your documents can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. You’ll want to be sure you can conduct normal business operations while the process takes place.

You’ll also want to digitize the most frequently accessed data first if possible, so that you get the greatest benefits upfront. Then you can move on to archived data that you may not need immediate access to.

Step 2. Scanning

Next up is the scanning process. Some companies may refer to this as document imaging, document digitization, or document conversion, but these are just different names for the same process.

After you hand off your documents to the scanning team, they will inspect each document to ensure that it’s ready to pass through the scanning equipment. That includes removing staples, paperclips, or creases that could interfere with producing a quality scan and setting aside any potentially problematic documents. SecureScan will handle this process for you, but not every scanning company will, so it is wise to ask first to avoid any unpleasant surprises later.

Scanning technicians will then develop a scanning pipeline/process depending on your needs, In some cases, they may even create custom scanning protocols to make the process more efficient, like defining a template for data capture on a large number of documents with a similar layout. This makes the indexing step faster and more accurate.

Your documents are then fed into professional-grade, high-speed scanning equipment.  These are not your average consumer scanners, these are designed to process 150 sheets per minute or more, outputting high resolution 300 dpi image files. In most cases, these files are saved as .pdf or .tif image files to be used with any document management software.  

Professional document conversion equipment - Fujitsu fi-6800 Scanner
Professional document conversion equipment – Fujitsu fi-6800 Scanner

Step 3. Indexing

When you have thousands of documents you need to convert, the process can get pretty overwhelming, pretty quickly. Simply passing a bunch of documents into a scanner won’t get you far, you need to create a system of categorizing and storing your documents in an organized way, so that you can easily locate and retrieve the information contained in those documents when you need it. 

Document indexing is the process of identifying the specific pieces of information contained in a set of documents that will later be used to create an index, allowing you to search for them.

Imagine that you have a large batch of invoices that you would like to digitize. You probably already know how to organize them in a way that makes it easy to find what you are looking for: by invoice number or client name for example. 

In fact, it’s likely that you would have already done this with your paper documents. Each filing cabinet in your office may hold the invoices from a specific year, and in that year, folders group documents by last name, dividing those documents into a logical group. 

The index created during the conversion process works in the same way.  Each important identifier can be used to create the digital equivalent to a  “table of contents” that maps the data to a corresponding file. 

This data is known as metadata, data associated with a file that provides information about its contents. By adding this metadata, you can easily locate a single invoice by searching for those specific pieces of information. 

Its incredibly important to ensure that this metadata is accurate, after all, the index is the most valuable part of your digital archive. Without it, you would be unable to locate a specific piece of information without looking at every single file. 

At SecureScan, we leverage double key indexing, a verification method in which every automated scan is manually reviewed by a human operator for errors or inconsistencies. This ensures the document conversion process results in an archive that expedites accurate retrieval of any document.

Step 4. Disposal

Now that your files are scanned, indexed, and uploaded to a document management system, chances are you’re never going back to paper. So what then should you do with your old documents after they’ve been converted?

If you need to hang on to your original paper files, you can look into long term document storage solutions. Many companies offer services centered around storing paper documents en masse, and that can be a great option to help you meet retention requirements for your documents. Plus, storage is relatively inexpensive, usually at the cost of accessibility.

Another option is a one time shredding service. Most scanning companies also offer secure shredding services to make it easier to get rid of your documents after they have been scanned. Of course, you could simply throw your files out in the trash, but that exposes any private information on those files to risk of theft.

The major benefit of a professional shredding service is that your data is destroyed in compliance with data privacy protection laws, making it easy for your business to meet strict privacy compliance.

What’s next?

If you’re ready to solve your paper problems once and for all, we can help. SecureScan has been a leading provider of secure document conversion services to businesses throughout the Northeast for over 19 years and counting. We provide custom scanning solutions and top rated customer service to help you transform the way you manage your records. Contact us today for a free quote.

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