Sunday, December 30, 2007

Document Management and Accounting Departments

It is an interesting landscape out there in the accounting world today. More and more organizations are trying to become as "paperless" as possible, but the inflow just keeps increasing. There are so many options out there, and with every major accounting software vendor now touting their "Document Management"module or add-on, what are managers in this department supposed to do?

Although I am a proponent of the pilot program philosophy, especially with ECM and Document Management, there needs to be an organizational plan and strategic vision. If every department put their software vendor solution into play, IT would have a major nightmare handling multiple disparate systems to manage company documents. Along with that, the majority of specialized departmental software falls way short in the capture and scanning portion of their functionality.

So what is the answer? Find a solid enterprise solution that can be customized for each department's specific needs. Easier said than done, but in focusing on Accounting and Invoice Solutions, here are some key points:

  • Focus on document capture - a quick, easy and reliable method for converting paper into digital format is essential. Utilizing a capture front-end such as iCapture can speed up the scanning process, and make the documents available to end users quickly.
  • Look at integration - Most accounting software will tout this as a major advantage to their Document Management place for all your info. In reality, no one piece of software can be a "jack of all trades"; let the Accounting Software do what it does best, and find a Document Management vendor to handle your documents. All of the major vendors have Software Development Kits (SDKs) and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allow you to integrate these systems with just about any application on your network.
  • Look at possible future initiatives - That system may have a rock solid Accounts Payable piece, but what about all the other document types? Contracts, POs, invoices, vendor information, tax info, etc. Ensure that the system you are evaluating can handle all document types, and not just specific functional areas.
  • Get end users involved - There are so many key factors to success on these types of projects, but success will always lie in the end users ability to quickly adapt and utilize the system. Get their feedback and acceptance before moving forward.
Accounting Management realizes their need for Document Management, but the task is daunting, and in most cases totally overwhelming. Get your IT involved, and a reputable vendor with implementations in like organizations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to get started in Document Management

I often get asked the question "What is the best way to get started on my Document Imaging project?" And of course, the answer is always: "It depends"

The easiest way to begin down the Document Management path is by using an all too familiar device within every office: the scanning Multi-Function Device. Just about every office out there today has a scanning copier or fax machine that will allow you to scan to PDF or TIFF. I recommend you come up with a document/folder naming scheme within your department or company to make sure there is some standardization to the whole scanning process. This is an extremely critical step for several reasons:

  • It prevents the paper mess that already exists from becoming a digital mess
  • Standardization in the scanning provides continuity throughout the organization, insuring that you can locate the documents later
  • Standardized folder structures and file naming schemes allow easy import down the line if you choose to migrate your documents to a true ECM or DM System.

The most important piece of advice is to have a plan, and make sure everyone sticks to it.

For some organizations, enforcing standards through the honesty rule just won't cut it. Wily end-users just won't comply, and ignore naming standards. In this case, the next logical progression would be to add some sort of capture software to enforce naming standards. If you are utilizing your copier, you can use an MFD Capture package such as eCopy or EFI's SendMe to require proper naming and folder locations. Information on these products can be found on the links page here Capture Software Links .

So, aside from the basic scan-to-file scheme above, what other options exist for getting started? Most of the software vendors in the Document Management/Enterprise Content Management space have basic entry level packages that can get your project off the ground at a relatively inexpensive price. One that comes to mind is the Captaris Alchemy Gold package (If you want really good pricing on this entry package, send me a note). Others include LaserFiche and Documentum's AX. All are fairly powerful systems that allow you to grow into their full-blown product line through upgrades or the addition of modules. Click here to see links to manufacturer pages Document Management Software.

Any way you choose, less paper is better!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Scanning with your Copier or Multi-function Device (MFD)

How do you get the most out of your scanning copier?

The copier manufacturers (Konica, Sharp, Canon, Kyocera) have really stepped up to the plate in recent years, and focused on the scanning capability of their hardware. Connecting to the network with your copier used to be a costly option, but would enable the unit to print and scan. Almost all the copiers today are sold with built-in network capability, and you instantly have network scanning capability.

So why would you use a copier rather than a dedicated desktop scanner? There is an article posted at that has a list of pros and cons to both device types - Copiers versus Dedicatd Scanners for Document Imaging , but the focus of this article will be on how to best utilize your copier for scanning.

Most of the MFD/MFPs allow scanning to email, scanning to SMB or network folders and scanning to FTP sites. It is interesting, and I find that most organizations will only setup scan to email. Users email themselves documents, open the attachment, rename it, create a folder and then save. As you can imagine, this is a time consuming, very manual process. The scan to folder function on most models is also a very manual process, as with most models you have to "hard code" the folder destination, and you cannot navigate folders on your network.

So how do we improve the scanning process, and make our document imaging simpler and more efficient? Through the use of software.

In utilizing software in the scanning process, there are two schools of thought:

  • Scan to the network, and then go back to your desk and desktop software to process the document
  • Process the document at the Copier/MFD at the time of scan

Let's look at these in more detail.

Desktop Processing

Let's look at the flow of this solution: Walk up to the copier, press a one touch button, walk back to your desk and open the software to process. The majority of the Document Management and ECM Software vendors have realized the enormous potential in enabling the use of copiers as a "front-end" for capturing documents, and have "copier-enabled" their applications. Once you scan from the copier, the document is placed in a queue for indexing/processing at your desktop. You can view the document, enter index or keyword values, and then submit the document to your Document Management System to be shared. Document Management Software vendors such as Captaris and Docuware have built simple, easy to use Copier capture modules. If you have some heavy duty processing needs, you can use Psigen or Kofax products and their document import function to process copier scanned documents.

If you have more basic needs, all of the Desktop scanning manufacturers have great feature sets for processing and working with scanned documents (eCopy Desktop and Nuance PaperPort to name a few). The links below have a listing of the majority of the software manufacturers:

Document Management Software Capture Software Desktop Scanning Software

Processing at the Copier

The flow for this solution involves a touch screen and keyboard at the copier: Scan your documents at the copier, touch a button on the screen for the document destination, enter your information and click done.

These solutions are very convenient and allow you to finish the scanning process at the time of scan. You can scan to email, scan to network folders and browse the network, scan to fax, scan to your desktop, and even scan into a variety of Document Management and Imaging Systems through the use of pre-built connectors. The two market leaders in this category are eCopy ShareScan and EFI SendMe. They both have similar feature sets, but eCopy definitely wins the race with the partnerships it has established with Document Management Vendors. Go to the link below for additional info:

Copier Capture Solutions

In summary, scanning with your copier is a great way to leverage your existing investment in office equipment. The process can be streamlined, and efficiency can be gained through the use of software.

For more info on Document Management and Document Imaging, go to

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Document Management and Compliance

What is Gramm-Leach-Bliley and how does it apply to Document Management?

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or GLBA, was put into place to allow consolidation in the banking industry. It provided rules for the combining of Commercial and Investment Banking. The main crux of the Act are provisions to protect the private financial information of consumers. The two main regulations governing the protection are the Financial Privacy Rule and the Safeguards Rule. The regualtions apply to many different types of financial institutions, including: securities firms, insurance companies, brokerages and banks.

Compliance with GLBA is manadatory, and below is a summary of the two mainregulations:

Financial Privacy Rule

The Privacy Rule governs the disclosure and collection of private financial information. It requires Privacy Notifications be submitted to the consumer that discloses how information will be used and/or shared. The consumer has the right to opt out and not provide the required information.

Safeguards Rule

The Safeguards Rule requires a written plan to protect and secure the private information held by an institution. The plan requires overall management of the safeguards through organizational structure, risk management plans for each department that handles the private information, plans for monitoring and suditing complaince and the ability to manage the overall collection, usage, storage, and distribution.

So how do Electronic Document Management Systems or Electronic Content Management Systems help with this daunting task?

EDMS or ECM systems can provide the oversight for managing private information through:

  • Enhanced Security and Access Controls
  • Centralized auditing
  • Centralized, rather than distributed storage
  • The ability to control usage and distribution

For some further reading on GLBA go to and read the compliance section, or click on the link below to go to the GLBA Compliance Links Page:

GLBA Compliance Page

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sarbanes Oxley (SOX), Document Management and Compliance

So what is Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), and how does it apply to Electronic Document Management Systems?

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, aka the Public Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, was signed into law after a myriad of high visibility corporate accounting scandals, such as: WorldCom and Enron. The act affects all public companies, and places high requirements on accounting standards, improved corporate reporting controls and visibility into the financial inter workings of an organization. The act imposes personal and criminal penalties for financial mismanagement, and enforces strict accountability.

The main crux of the Act requires executives to personally affirm the validity of financial statements, and also requires auditor attestation and complete documentation for backup on the statements.

So where do Document Management Systems come into play with respect to Sarbanes-Oxley?

When an organization is looking to comply with SOX requirements, there are many roadblocks:

  • Large volumes of documentation are required for verification and audit purposes.
  • Many of the accounting practices and procedures are very manual in nature, and the processes for monitoring, tracking and auditing is prone to human error.
  • Total visibility to the entire financial picture is almost impossible with paper-based systems.
  • De-centralized document storage can make a full and complete audit impractical.

An Electronic Document Management System or Electronic Content Management System can provide simplified means to comply with SOX:

  • Having a centralized electronic repository for search and verification can minimize effort, and maximize an organization's ability to find key documentation.
  • The ability to automate the scanning, indexing and archiving of documentation allows for centralized monitoring, reporting, tracking and auditing of all compliance activities.
  • Centralizing all documentation allows for a key strategic view to all compliance critical information.

In a nutshell, technology allows the organization to simplify and centralize all the efforts surrounding compliance. For more information from , click on the link below:

Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) Document Management Compliance Links

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Isn't Fax dead yet?

Paperless Fax

Technology is so interesting these days, and it seems we keep going back to the "good old days" for reliability and security. I find it absolutely amazing that Fax is still the standard of transmission for many businesses and organizations. What are the reasons? Here are some:

  • Security in point-to-point transmission. Fax is viewed as "more secure" than email in many organizations
  • Proof of receipt
  • Accepted and fully adopted standard

But are the above really valid with the old analog fax machine? From a security standpoint, the fax is secure in the way it transmits, but once it comes out on the other end, that document is open to whoever walks by the machine. On the proof of receipt, yes you can get the send report, but did the intended recipient actually receive the document. This usually requires a phone call or email for confirmation (isn't that ironic). As far as the final bullet, fax is the old reliable staple of the office, and some folks just wont give it up, or have the option of doing so.

Paperless/Network fax systems are quickly becoming the standard in the workplace for a multitude of reasons:

  • They integrate seamlessly with existing email systems. You can send faxes through your account, and receive them anywhere and anytime.
  • With the ability to designate personal fax numbers, security is no longer an issue, as only the recipient will receive the document.
  • For larger entities, it just makes financial sense to move to network-based faxing. You can eliminate all the analog fax lines, eliminate maintenance, paper and toner expenses, and reduce fax handling time for personnel.
  • The ability to archive and search transmission logs and documents

Many industries are still relying on fax (medical, financial, construction and government to name a few), and the technology is long from extinction. For some additional links on network faxing click here:

View further information on Paperless Fax Systems

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Document Management, HIPAA and Compliance

So what is this HIPAA thing, and how does it apply to the management of Documents? Here is my understanding, and an overview of the basic details.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was put in place to protect personal health information and to improve the process of information transfer through standardization. The Act was put in place in 1996 as a "kick in the pants" to the Health Care industry, designed to place requirements on how patient information is handled, transfered and maintained. From a technical perspective there are several areas of focus:

  • Standards on electronic transactions
  • Standards on code sets for information
  • Provision for unique identifiers for employers and providers
  • Privacy of individual health information
  • Security and Digital Signatures
The first two areas of focus were created to standardize the transmission of administrative and financial healthcare transactions. This definied, standardized format is to be used for any number of transmissions, including claim status, payment and remittance as well as referrals and authorizations (and many others).
From a Document Management perspective, the real impact is on the privacy and security portion. This section is the most controversial, and holds the healthcare entity liable for any breach of patient confidentiality or disclosure of private information. Organizations are required to create privacy policies and procedures and manage the patient records. Below is a summary of the privacy requirements:
  • The right for patients to copy and inspect their health information
  • Required training for employees on privacy regulations and procedures
  • Policies and procedures are required for the disclosure of information and access
  • Patient authorization for the disclosure and/or use of private information
  • Documentation of access, use and disclosure
These are just a few of the requirements.
An Electronic Document Management System, or Electronic Medical Record System provides the best path to HIPAA compiance. The correct system will maintain proper security, audit all access, and allow policies and procedures to be enforced.
Some additional compliance links at:
Further information on HIPAA and Document Management

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Network Scanners for the Paperless Office

There is a new weapon in the quest for the paperless office: the network scanner. It the old days (a year ago) the only way to get network scanning was to buy a scanning multi-function device (fax, copier, etc). The major scanner manufacturers were behind the power curve with the exception of Canon. Now Kodak, Fujitsu and Canon have all released network scanners. Below are some descriptions and key features:

Fujitsu fi-6000NS

This product retails for $2,995 and is built on the popular fi-5120C platform. It scans at 25 pages per minute, and allows scanning to network folders, email and even network fax systems. All of this is accomplished through an 8 inch programmable touch panel, and integrates with Windows Active Directory. The only drawback here is the basic warranty is only 90 days onsite (you have to buy service contracts for anything beyond). Review of the Fujitsu fi-6000NS

Kodak ScanStation 100

The ScanStaion 100 also retails for $2,995, and scans at 25 pages per minute. The system allows you to scan to network share, email, printer or USB drive. The system also has a touch panel and integrates with Windows Active Directory. The USB feature on this model is really cool and lets you "scan and carry" documents. The unit comes with a 1 year warranty.
Review of the Kodak ScanStation 100

Canon ScanFront 220

The Canon ScanFront is the cheapest of the models at $1,995 and offers many of the same features, but at 26 pages per minute (note: if you do scan 2 sides it slows to 35 ipm). The Canon scans to email, Network folder and FTP. It also has a fingerprint reader option. It inlcudes a 1 year warranty. Review of the Canon ScanFront 220

These scanners are a great compliment to any office, and allow shared usage. More info at ScanGuru Document Management

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How do I scan my file cabinets?

How do I go paperless?
What type of scanner should I buy?

These questions are becoming common in today's business world as the inefficiencies of paper can be eliminated through the use of the proper hardware and software.
The back-scanning of large file rooms can be a huge task, requiring the purchase of equipment, software and usually, some extra employees. Below is an outline of steps to take before moving out on this "paperless" adventure:

Evaluate your current paper files.

How much paper do you have? A good benchmark is that each four drawer file cabinet has bout 10,000 to 12,000 pages depending on how tightly the doors are packed (if you cannot fit any more files in, lean towards the upper number). Now, each page consumes approximately 50K of server space, so an eintire cabinet is about a CD of data, or 500-600 MB. Also take a look at the prep work that will be involved. It amazes me the number of staples folks use when archiving paper files. One simple staple in the left corner never seems to be enough, and I have even seen 5 per packet or document. This will all add to the prep time as you remove staples, post-its, etc. How long will it take to scan the files? Do a benchmark test on a sinlge files and then multiply it out.

Should I outsource the scanning of my file cabinets?

Once you have evaluated your file room, and seen how many files you have, you can get a feel for how long the task will take. With a 90 page per minute scanner, a file drawer will take about a 1/2 hour to scan (that includes a few jams). Then there are the index fields, which depending how many you have per document, can add some additional time. After looking at all these factors, and what it would cost in time, some folks just decide to outsource. Document Scanning Bureaus usually charge a per page fee, plus some additional labor charges. Depending on your market, the cost per page will range from 5-12 cents per page, plus an hourly labor fee. So that 4 drawer cabinet will run you anywhere from $500-1200 plus some labor fees.

How do I figure out what scanner and software to buy?

THere are a ton of options out there, and several websites that can help. is a good place to start. There are some additional articles, and links to many of the vendor sites.
I will go deeper into each of the questions above in separate entries in the future.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Document Scanning and Automation

The Capture Applications on the market today are outstanding when it comes to automation. For any organization that has a large scanning project, or requires minimal time and maximum efficiency from its scan operators, some level of automation is a necessity. So what does automation mean when we are discussing capture applications? Below are some key feature that will minimize the time and effort required to scan and process documents:

Document Separators – with most scanners, if you have 10 documents to scan, you will need to run each set of pages through the document feeder, and save them off individually to your repository. Applications that allow document separators provide a means to place separator sheets between each of your document sets, place the entire pile into the document feeder, and let the software split the stack into individual files. This is a huge time saver, even with a small number of documents.

Intelligent Separators – these take the concept of the separator sheet a step further and add “intelligence”. For instance, a barcode separator could contain important information, such as a vendor code, invoice number, etc. This information is read by the system, and assigned to the document, and can be used in a number of ways: for search, in file naming or folder creation.

Database Lookup – Indexing, or data entry on documents can be a painstaking ordeal, especially if the information has already been entered into another system. The database lookup function provides the ability to retrieve information from another system based on some key value. So you could enter, say, an invoice number, and the application could go to your financial system and bring all the information associated with the document. This minimizes the data entry step, and provides consistency of data across applications.

Document Routing – There are applications on the market that will route documents based on coversheet information. Just scan the document with a barcode cover for a particular destination, and the system automatically routes the document to the right folder for let’s say, a particular customer.

Form Recognition – The ultimate in intelligent applications on the market today can recognize forms from a stack of paper that has been scanned, and intelligently process them according to features within each document. For example, an application form can be recognized, and the data harvested off the form for automatic entry into another system.

These are just a few of the automation features that can help with the efficiency of the scanning process. For a list of applications, go to The links section will give you additional info on scanning software.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

MFDs are not enough when scanning

What is scanning? If you ask this question to twenty different office workers, you will get twenty different answers. The Scanning Multi-function Device (MFD) has placed scanning into the hands of just about every office worker. But the “scanning copier” has its limitations, and sometimes can create more chaos, just moving the paper problem from the file cabinet to the server. The problem I see in most customers is no plan, or strategy, when it comes to storing documents digitally. They take their scanning hardware, and just go for it, with no structure, standardization or foresight. Pretty soon, they experience the same problems they were trying to eliminate: lost files, erroneous naming, misplaced files, etc.Part of the blame should be placed upon the copier resellers, many of which do not fully understand scanning, or the business process that goes along with paper conversion. They recommend the simplest solution, which is not always the best solution for the customer. My main point here, is that all scanning organizations can benefit from some type of capture software to automate the entire process, enforce standards, and provide the ability to ensure quality when scanning and indexing documents.There are several capture applications on the market, from simple and cheap, to the complex and expensive. There are several capture software companies listed in the links section of , as well as some articles explaining the benefits and features. Educate yourself before you purchase, and find a vendor that has a strong knowledge and reference base in the field.

Stephen Boals

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Key Features- Scanning/Capture Applications for Law Firms

What should a Law Firm look for in a scanning application? Here are some suggestions:

Barcode Separator Functionality - Separator pages allow the user to insert a specially coded page between documents in a stack. Once scanned, the software uses these pages to determine when a document begins and ends. This allows the scanning of many documents at once, rather than scanning one at a time. There is also the notion of "intelligent separators" which allow you to encode data on the separator page, such as case, matter, attorney, etc.

Image Enhancement - These tools, such as Kofax's Virtual Rescan, will automatically adjust contrast and brightness, remove problematic colors, remove speckles, and thicken fonts. If you want the highest quality image, with the least amount of scanning operator intervention, this is a key component to any scanning system.

Indexing - The application should allow for the entry of case and matter information, and this should allow you to automatically rename the files based on these values, and create folders. Rapid indexing features should allow quick entry of these fields for multiple documents.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) - OCR takes the scanned image, and converts it to a text-based format. When looking at this feature, it should allow conversion to the following 3 formats: Adobe Image + Hidden Text, Word/WordPerfect and plain text. If you can test the software, see what type of results it provides with several sample firm documents.

Export - Depending on how you are managing your cases, the application should offer maximum flexibility on where you can direct the end product. I have several firms that use multiple case/document management systems, depending on the case type and size. Folder Export, Summation, Alchemy, SharePoint, etc should all be supported.

Bates Numbering - Get rid of that old stamp!! Most Advanced Capture Applications provide the ability to digitally Bates Stamp your documents. Huge time saver.

Obviously this is just a starting point, but these are some necessary features that will make processing documents easier, and much more efficient.

For more info, go to

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why buy a Document Management or ECM System?

The Business World is a rapidly changing entity, and technology helps adapt to these changes quickly and will help a company keep its competitive advantage. Paper has always been an inefficient medium for conducting business processes, and recently has become a key focus for Business Process Improvement (BPI) initiatives. So what are the main reasons for a company or organization to move towards the paperless environment?
Below are the two main categories:

Operation Efficiency and Business Process Improvement

-Through the use of a DM/ECM system, operational costs can be reduced. A primary example of this is floor space. A 4 drawer file cabinet takes up about 8 square feet of floor space. Multiply this by the number of cabinets and what you pay per square foot on a lease, and this can be a significant waste of dollars. Along this same vein we can examine the costs of handling and process paper documents. It is estimated that a single file folder can cost $25-50 to create, and that a lost file has a cost of $125 – 300 (depending on the cost of the employee time and recreation costs). This is a small sampling of how Operational costs can be reduced.

-Using a digital repository can improve productivity. This is an obvious benefit. Any time you can reduce the time required to perform a required task, that time can be applied elsewhere. A basic online search for a customer file requires about 5 seconds. To accomplish the same information lookup with a physical file cabinet can take 10 – 25 minutes, or perhaps even days if the file is held in offsite storage. This is just for basic lookups, and not complex searches, which could take weeks if performed through the physical file system.

-A DM/ECM system can provide improved customer service. Take for example a large HMO Claims Department. Members call with questions about claims, and with the old paper system, they were put on hold until the physical claim could be retrieved. Now, it is viewed instantly, and information passed within minutes.

-Managing customer documents efficiently can lead to improved customer retention and acquisition. The ability to manage contracts, expiration dates, equipment lists, etc. quickly and easily, along with improved customer service, will ultimately result in enhanced retention and acquisition if managed correctly.

All of the above will result in improved operating margins, and ultimately, increased profits.

Risk Reduction

-DM/ECM systems are imperative to those organizations subject that are subject to compliance laws and regulations. The ability to produce records, provide documentation during audits, track access to documents, and track transactions is now required in certain business verticals. Financial Firms, Non-profits, Healthcare, Government and others are now required by law to fully manage and track many operations within their business. ECM/DM system vendors have focused on these requirements and the law to ensure compliance when it comes to retaining and tracking documentation and access to records.

-A document repository can reduce litigation exposure for an organization. The ability to retain and recall documentation and records at a moments notice can be imperative in any legal situation.

-Document Security is often an overlooked area within an organization’s security plan. An online system gives the ability to track access, changes, additions, deletions, etc. For more info on ECM/DM security go to the following articles: and .

-An ECM/DM system allows for the backup of critical files. What would happen to an organization if their file room was destroyed by a fire or flood? Business Continuity Planning is a critical theme today, allowing an organization to insure that a disaster of any kind will not bring business to a halt. Scanning paper files provides the ability to backup and restore key business documentation.

For more information on the above topics, visit .

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Key Factors for ECM Project Success

Many of the Document Management and ECM System Implementations fail right out of the gate due to several factors. Most of them revolve around planning, and project definition and focus. Below are some key areas that are imperative to a project’s success:

A huge part of the planning for a DMS/ECM System is examining your organization’s network infrastructure and ensuring it is ready. Implementing a system with inadequate resources can provide wrong end user perceptions. Focus should be placed on the below items:

-PC Clients – the client PC’s should have appropriate horsepower to handle their specific tasks. Obviously, basic search clients will not require extensive resources such as memory or hard drive space, but a scanning or OCR station may.
-Network – It is time to get rid of those hubs your brother in-law gave you, and upgrade to 100MB, or in some cases (at the server), Gigabit technology.
-Server – adequate memory, processor and storage is a necessity.
-Backup- often an overlooked area, planning for system backup, now and in the years beyond is very important.

There are so many technologies out there that are incredible, powerful, and just way too complex for any normal human. If it is too difficult to use, end users will not accept the technology, and inefficiency will result. The goal is to make the user interface as simple as possible, but have the necessary complexity behind the scenes to achieve your goals. eCopy is a great example of this principal. On the surface, it is a simple touch screen panel, but behind the scenes, many complex operations can occur without end user intervention.

So many times I hear prospects say, “My people will never use this”. The move to ECM is not only a move in technology, but a change in process and attitude. The benefits and power of the system need to be explained and accepted by management and the end users. There needs to be a commitment to the technology and the change, as well as a setting of expectations. I see so many projects fail because they are not given the chance to succeed, and are doomed right out of the gate due to a lack of support from management. Never accept “We will try it and see how it goes”.

Pilot Program
Always, always start small and grow. Phased implementations work the best, by starting with a certain department or document, and then expanding. This gives the end users the ability to move slowly in the right direction, and it gives IT the ability to identify any problems or areas that were missed in planning. It also allows slow cultural change, which is so important to overall success of the projects. Users can take their time, and slowly adapt to the technology in a certain facet of their daily duties, rather than being “thrown into the fire” with a full move into a paperless environment.

The keys to success for an ECM or DMS are numerous, but the items listed above are key focus areas for the success of any system.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What to Look for When Buying a Scanner

The “Paperless” office is the hot topic today, and there are so many choices when it comes to scanning hardware, it can be difficult at best to sort through all the models and features to make the right choice. Below is a breakdown of the different scanner features, and an explanation of what they mean in layman’s terms:

Scanning Speed

Scanning speed is a main area of focus when researching scanning hardware. A scanner’s speed is usually directly proportional to its price, but you have to ask yourself one question: How long do you have to accomplish your scanning tasks? If you buy that cheapo scanner at an office products store that scans at 8 pages per minute, good luck in getting those 10 file cabinets scanned. Another note to mention is that all the manufacturers rate their scanner speeds at 200 DPI. If you need high quality images, or are performing OCR, 300 DPI will probably be necessary. This will significantly slow down your scanning speed, as will color scanning and duplex (2-sided) scanning on some models.

Document Feeder Capacity

The document feeder provides you the ability to load anywhere from 1-1000+ sheets into the scanner. The feeder capacity you require all depends on the volume of paperwork you are scanning, and if you are using an intelligent capture application that provides the ability to use separator sheets to split documents automatically. If you are a Law Firm that routinely scans 200 page documents, then that is a good starting point for your feeder size requirements. This allows you to load your documents, and then let the scanner do the work.

Another focus area related to the feeder is the maximum and minimum paper sizes. If you intend to scan legal size paper or insurance cards, make sure the scanner can handle them.

Daily Duty Cycle

The Duty Cycle (DC) is a rating of the scanner’s durability, and defines just how much paper you can feed through the hardware in a day. If you are scanning 3000 pages per day, you do not want to buy a small desktop scanner with a DC of 750. What happens if you exceed this number? Nothing to begin with, but as time goes on the wear and tear on the unit will begin to show in the form of jams, misfeeds, skewing, etc. This number is also tied to the replacement of consumables (rollers and pads). If you continually exceed the DC, you will more than pay for a higher level scanner in consumables over time.

Scanning Mode

Most scanners nowadays can scan both sides of your document, but there are still some lingering models that will only do simplex scanning. Also, if you have the requirement to scan color documents, ensure that color scanning is supported.

Warranty and Service

All warranties are not created equal. Some scanner manufacturers provide “depot” type service where you have to ship your scanner for warranty service. Others will provide onsite warranty service for a specified period of time. Along with this, the time period on the warranty also varies everywhere from 30 days, to a full year. Scanner service is a separate purchase, and in some cases, can be a shock to the purchaser. A basic service plan on a mid-range scanner can cost over $1000 per year. Get an advanced plan that provides Preventative Maintenance visits, and you could be in the $1500 - $2000 range, depending on your model. Get all the details up front, and some manufacturers will provide multi-year discounts on service.


Definitely investigate the software that comes bundled with your scanner. Many of the manufacturers now provide image processing software (Kofax VRS) and scanning utilities, along with Optical Character Recognition Software. Also, if you require the ability to scan to PDF, make sure that is an output option with the scanner you purchase.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Document Management and Security - Continued

In my previous article, I discussed the general security tenets and how to apply them to the planning stages of an ECM/Document Management Project. The focus of this article will be some additional focus areas when examining a system, and what to look for in a vendor.

When evaluating an ECM or Document Management System on its security features and functions, there are five key areas:

This is the process in which the system identifies the user. Most DMS/ECM Systems have the ability to identify users upon access to the system. This step is key to the below areas of focus.

This step verifies and validates the user’s identity. Most ECM/DM software provides the ability to authenticate to standard user repositories (Windows Active Directory and LDAP), but this functionality is usually an additional module, or specialized product.

More and more legislation is being passed to ensure organizations can provide audit trails and detailed logs on user activity and record activity within an ECM system. Accountability is just that, the ability of a system to provide a record of all transactions and activity within the repository. This is critical for organizations within certain verticals (health care, finance, etc.). Once again, the majority of products on the market include some sort of basic logging, but there are usually add on modules for “enhanced logging and auditing”.

After a user has been authenticated, the system will grant them the appropriate rights and permissions within the repository. This is a critical requirement, as you would not want Operations personnel accessing Accounting or HR files. Some systems provide even further granular control to not only restrict access, but also to restrict the use of certain functions and features within the application. This is accomplished through the use of roles or groups to which users can be assigned.

Of all the areas listed, this is usually most difficult, and requires security controls outside of the ECM/DM system. Privacy ensures that all user activity remains private and confidential. This can be accomplished through encryption of all traffic to and from the system, and proper security controls on the workstation and server.

Security is often overlooked when selecting and planning for an ECM/DM implementation. The five areas above comprise key areas of focus when evaluating ECM/DM technologies.

Stephen Boals, CISSP

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Planning for Document Management and Scanning

When companies are in the planning stages for the implementation of scanning and document management systems, there are several technical infrastructure areas of focus that need to be considered. Most organizations will need to make an investment in their infrastructure to ensure program success and optimal performance. Below are some considerations:

•Storage – Storage planning is critical to provide adequate space and meet future growth requirements for the system. A typical 8 ½ x 11 page will require 50K of storage space. A typical 4 drawer file cabinet contains approximately 10,000 pages, and will require 500 MB of storage on a server. With these benchmarks, you can easily estimate the amount of storage space required. When performing these calculations, make sure and examine your document types to see if they have images, logos, pictures, etc. This will add to the baseline, and increase the amount of storage required. Test scanning of documents is always a good idea to see what the actual size of your image files will be using your scanning hardware of choice.

•Backup – An area often overlooked, a sufficient backup system will be necessary. There are many different philosophies on how to backup a system, but one thing is for sure, larger organizations with a large volume of paper will require a dedicated system for backup. Some options for small offices include CD/DVD, USB Hard drives or a network attached storage device at another location. For large organizations, tape drives and even tape changer systems will be required. Ensure that the device has the ability to backup the entire document repository.

•Network – If you are running your network on 10Mbit hubs, it is probably time to upgrade. Remember, all the facets of a document management system will be transferring large files back and forth between servers, client workstations, MFD scanners and the backup system. You want to invest in the fastest possible network infrastructure to ensure high performance.•Server – That old NT 4.0 server your brother gave you is not going to cut it. Processor speed is not that critical, and any recent server technology will serve well in this environment. Ensure that the server has at least 1GB of memory, and invest in a RAID Disk subsystem for fast access to the files, and redundancy.

•Clients – If you are still running Windows 95, it is time to get up to date. Any modern XP workstation will suffice, and if you have capture workstations that are doing intense document conversion processes (OCR), or are attached to high speed scanners, invest in fast processors and as much memory as you can afford.

Investing the time, resources and capital in a Document Management/Scanning system also requires a modern network to work properly. The investment in modernizing your organizations IT Infrastructure will provide a larger payoff in enhanced system performance, and confidence that the system will be able to grow to its full potential.

Document Management and Security

As with most technical endeavors, it seems that with the majority of Document Management projects, security is always an afterthought. Paper documents are an important asset to an organization, and once they are moved into the digital realm, even more attention should be placed on their security. Would you place an unlocked file cabinet with all your confidential customer information in the middle of Grand Central Station? This article will be the first on how to involve Information Security (InfoSec) from the beginning of your Document Management/ECM project, to the end and in implementation and maintenance.
To start with, as in any technical project, the three basic tenets of InfoSec should be considered: Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability.


The basic premise of the Confidentiality tenet is to prevent unintentional or intentional disclosure of information. In the planning stages, steps need to be taken to arrange the correct controls on your digital documents. The need exists to analyze the types of documents that will be stored online, and who needs to access them. Any system that is being considered to manage the security of the documents should have the ability to control access, rights and privileges. Care should be taken to mitigate risk, and protect all confidential information.


What does integrity mean? In a nutshell, a system will be required to prevent unauthorized alteration of the data. In the case of a Document Management System, the data includes the image or file and the information about that file (metadata). There needs to be the ability to control who can alter data (update a record), and who cannot based on specific users or groups. In some industries (financial), the ability to write data to unalterable media will be required so changes cannot be made. In planning, it is necessary to examine the Integrity tenet, and insure the system you examine has all the capabilities to prevent alteration.


What good is a system if you cannot access your information? Availability goes way beyond just having the information available to users. It is what happens behind the scenes to insure the greatest possible redundancy and in-depth disaster recovery planning. It includes everything from having a redundant disk subsystem, to having a restore plan in the case of a disaster. Availability planning is paramount to the success of any Document Management system.
These three basic tenets of InfoSec must be a requirement of any Document Management or Enterprise Content Management project. They must be carried through all the project phases: Planning, Implementation and Maintenance.
Stephen Boals, CISSP

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Levels of Document Management and Scanning

The Levels of Document Management and Scanning

The landscape of Document Management applications and hardware grows larger every day, and the options can be daunting for decision makers.

What do we need?
How do we best optimize our process?
Do different departments require different pieces of the puzzle?

To simplify the explanation of Document Management “Solutions”, below is a Level System that can help to breakdown the different offerings in the Document Management space.

Level I – Basic Scanning

A Level I solution consists of a scanning device, either a dedicated scanner or a scanning multi-functional device (MFD) such as a scanning copier or fax machine. These devices can usually scan to PDF or TIFF image formats. A Level 1 Solution can also include basic scanning software to help in acquiring the image, and this is more prevalent in the dedicated scanner market.

Level II – Basic Capture

Capture Software integrates with scanning hardware to allow the user to work with scanned images within their Windows desktop environment. Some common features in this software include:
· Image processing (Deskew, despeckle, black border removal, etc.)
· File manipulation – combining scanned files, splitting them, page rearranging, inserting and deleting pages
· Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – conversion of images to text
· Ability to email, print or fax image files
· Annotation of image files
· Sharing of scanned files between PCs
· Keyword entry and search capability

Some examples: Nuance PaperPort, eCopy Desktop

Level III – Advanced Capture

Advanced Capture software provides for automation when scanning documents. The goal of this solution is to speed up the capture process, providing the ability to scan, index, separate and verify documents. Common features are:
Distribution Capabilities
The ability to use document separator sheets while scanning.
The ability to read barcodes and assign the information to document properties/index fields.
Enhanced image enhancement settings
The ability to index multiple documents
Quality Assurance and Verification
Automatic import into an existing Document Management System.
Basic document workflow creation.
Forms processing and data extraction

Note: Most Document Management systems have built in capture modules with some of these capabilities.

Examples: Psigen ScanHQ, Kofax Ascent, eCopy

Level IV – Document Management System

This level includes software with a variety of components or modules, all with the goal of capturing, managing, searching and distributing all types of documents. Most DMS vendors have a wide variety of modules, features and functions, including the following:
Email capture
Drag and Drop addition of files
Advanced Search and Archive
Records Management
Fax capture
Integration with other applications

Examples: Captaris Alchemy, FileNet, Laserfiche, Hyland Onbase

Level V – Custom Solution

A level V solution is composed of one or several of the elements above. These elements are packaged together to for a custom solution, and integrated with existing applications to provide enhanced efficiency, centralized metadata storage/access, and minimal effort by personnel in the task of archiving and moving documents throughout the Enterprise.

Each of these levels can build on one another, so an organization can enter the world of Document Management without taking on a Level V solution right out of the gate.

Stephen Boals

Dedicated Scanner or Scanning Copier?

Scanning Copier or Dedicated Scanner??

Scanning Multifunction Peripherals (MFPs/copiers) have become standard in most offices. I receive the same question all the time from prospects and customers: Can’t I just use my copier for scanning? In most cases, for a typical office, with typical documents, a copier is a perfect scanning solution. As offices become more complex in the way they handle their documents, or they expand their scanning efforts to other departments, dedicated scanners may be required to achieve the desired result.

Below are some interesting statistics provided by InfoTrends:

· 65 % of office workers use digital copiers/MFPs
· Over 50% use the “scan” feature daily
· 71% expect scanning requirements to increase from year to year
· 72% believe it is necessary to view images before processing
· 36% will require dedicated scanners versus MFP devices
· 36% believe they will need both scanners and MFPs

So what are the benefits/drawbacks to scanning with both types of devices? Below is a summary:

Benefits of MFPs as scanners:

Leverage your existing investment in the MFP
Most copier maintenance plans do not charge for scans, so you get “free” maintenance for the scanning function (no print/copy, no click charge)
MFP manufacturers are really focusing on scanning capabilities: fast speeds, better quality and enhanced drivers, etc.
Network scanning functions:
Scan to email
Scan to Windows Folders
Scan to FTP
One-to-Many relationship: all workers can use one device.

Drawbacks of MFPs:

Contention – copying, scanning and printing may cause “a line at the copier”
Poor performance with differing paper sizes
Lack of color dropout (Scanning blue or black backgrounds will result in a black page)
Lack of image correction capabilities (auto deskew, despeckle, black border removal, streak removal, etc.)
Small Document Feeder sizes (50 – 100 pages)
On average, file sizes are 10-20% larger
Duplex scanning/DPI increase greatly slows down rated speed
Black and White scanning only on some models

Benefits of Dedicated Scanners:

Convenience – scan at your desk
Duplexing does not slow down scanner
Color dropout
Superior image quality due to enhancement features
Ease in handling differing paper sizes/types
Larger document feeder selections (up to 1000+ pages)
Smaller file sizes
Ability to preview scanned documents at scan time

Drawbacks of Dedicated Scanners:

One to One relationship – directly connected to PC
Additional Maintenance costs

Above are all the pluses and minuses, but in a nutshell, when should you use a dedicated scanner?

Scanning 100+ documents per day
Workers that are constantly scanning throughout the day
Mixed paper sizes, weights and colors
Poor quality, older documents or when image enhancement is required
OCR or ICR applications
High volume copying and printing environments
Large Document scanning
High security environments