Sunday, March 30, 2008

eCopy, SharePoint and Scanning in the Enterprise

More and more organizations are taking the leap into a centralized document repository, through the use of Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint is an oustanding tool for collaboration, and accels when utilizing Microsoft Office documents. But what happens when you create a SharePoint site that will require the uploading of numerous scanned documents? How can you standardize file naming, metadata population and the overall document imaging process?

One of the best solutions I have found is eCopy ShareScan. eCopy is a document capture solution that can be connected to just about any Multi-Function Copier or Dedicated Scanner. The challenge with traditional scanning solutions is that they usually require dedicated scanner hardware that is connected to a PC. This provides a one to one solution, allowing only the PC user to scan documents. With eCopy, you can provide a one-to-many relationship, and share the scanning capabilities of your copier or scanner with an entire office or department. It has a simple, easy to use touch screen interface that even the most technically challenged user can learn to use. It can provide a rapidly deployable solution, with quick adoption, and low training requirements.

eCopy provides a SharePoint Connector that allows quick integration into any site, with all security in tact, and the ability to require metadata fields. For larger organizations, you can configure one ScanStation, and then publish the configuration to all the others on your network. For more info on eCopy and additional tools, go to What is eCopy? or for other SharePoint Scanning Utilities, click on the following link SharePoint Scanning Utilities.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

TIFF or PDF for my document imaging project?

Ah, the age-old argument…what file format do I use for scanning and archiving? TIFF, PDF, JPG, MDI, BMP? I will focus on the two most prevalent options, TIFF and PDF.

TIFF – TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format and has become the industry standard for Document Imaging. All of the scanner vendors, Document Management Software and Enterprise Content Management vendors support this format. TIFF was originally developed by the company Aldus as a standard for imaging. Adobe has since acquired Aldus. The TIFF format provides compression to produce manageable image sizes.

PDF – PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and was created by Adobe for simple document exchange. It has quickly been adopted by the document imaging industry because of the proliferation of the Adobe Reader. There are 3 types of PDFs: Image, Text and Image+Hidden Text. The Image + Hidden Text gives you an all in one package if you want a searchable file. The newest PDF standard is the PDF / A, or PDF Archive standard. This PDF type will insure long term archival compatibility. It also sets a standard for an all-in-one package that includes metadata, OCR text and the image itself.

So which do you choose?? I cannot tell you how often I get this question from customers. My answer is usually in the form of a question: What are you going to do with the documents once they are archived? If you distribute them outside the organization, then PDF is usually the best choice, as Adobe Reader is on over 90% of the PCs nowadays, and you will not have to deal with someone trying to open a TIFF. If your documents are going to be used for internal reference, and will be viewed through a document management system, then TIFF is perfectly fine. Another consideration will be OCR text. Does your document management system work with TIFF and PDF??

Most software today will accommodate either image format; just make sure it will meet all your needs. You can find a wide variety of software solutions at Scanning and Imaging Solutions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What does paperless mean?

As I see more and more offices move towards the paperless office, i have realized it definitely pays to take the slow road. The major issue in almost any Document Management project is the human factor, and their ability to accept and use the new technology. Overload the employees with difficult and complex technology, and you may as well have thrown your investment in a bonfire. Organizations will always have different technology adoption rates, even when they are in like verticals. The best course of action for any organization is to choose a vendor you can trust, and that has a strong track record within your industry. A Document Imaging Solutions professional can assess your current situation, your ultimate destination, and then map a technology path to the promised land. Any vendor that is recommending full-blown, enterprise wide systems from the get go is just trying to pad their pockets, and will ultimately leave you a mess you will not be able to clean up. Figure out your pain points, come up with a reasonable budget/technology that will solve the problem, and then go for it.

There are some great planning resources here:

Document Management Planning

Document Management and Security

Justifying your Document Management, Scanning or ECM Project