Workers in today’s office have access to scan devices, but this does very little to reduce the volume of paper surrounding them. Copiers can scan, networks are fast, image file storage is manageable, PDF viewers are on every desktop… so why are we still burdened by paper records, without so much as a plan to approach the paper-free office?

DocSolid scanthropologists have studied this problem, and define the stages of enterprise scanning evolution as follows:

 The first stage, No Scanning, is a stage most offices have moved past. No more knuckle dragging. Digital copiers, multifunctional printers, and desktop scanners gave us basic scanning to move to the second evolutionary state, Casual Scanning. Casual Scanning, the first appearance of upright mobility, is primarily scanning images to our own email inbox or to a network scan folder. This is good for occasional needs to digitize paper. When we figure out how to apply security and application integration to our scan jobs, and add to that the ability to scan stacks of documents, we move into the realm of Repetitive Scanning – and finally get a meaningful group of images onto the electronic platform.

Careful now, because without a best practice approach towards enterprise scanning, Scanarchy is likely to set in as we evolve forward from Repetitive Scanning. Scanarchy ushers in the first appearance of weapons. You can learn about Scanarchy in our white paper (here). When the organization applies the best practices necessary evolve past Scanarchy, it can evolve to Enterprise Scan Capture, and begin to benefit from paper-free operations.

Most organizations today are stuck between Casual and Repetitive scanning.  Heavy-duty, process based scan capture is a basement operation, dedicated to one job. To broaden adoption of scan-capture for front office work, you must integrate it into your business infrastructure and human workflows.

Having cultivated the infrastructure necessary for scanning availability, it is important to recognize that there are still evolutionary obstacles to solving scan-capture needs in the enterprise. Identifying and tackling these remaining obstacles users is the next evolutionary stage of enterprise scanning.

Here are the evolutionary challenges to advancing:

  1. Use every scan device – you have many different devices in place, of varying types (copiers, MFP’s, desktop scanners, network scanners). Turn them all on! You’ve turned on all these devices for printing and copying. Why not use the ones that can scan – to scan! Don’t limit scanning to one vendor, or only newly sold models. It’s green to use the machines you have.
  2. Make it simple – ease of use is the key to getting front office workers involved in scanning. Avoid solutions requiring complex login and typing at the devices. Make scanning as simple as copying and printing.
  3. Stay ‘open’ for scanning business – don’t embed you scanning solutions in the scanning machines, so that you can only use one vendor to meet your needs. Your scanning software should work with every vendor’s devices, existing ones and new ones, as long as they can scan.
  4. Make it productive – you need to be able to scan documents in stacks! You can’t make a trip to a scanner or type long instructions individually for each document. And your best solutions give the option for office services staff to do centralized or assistant scanning when desirable.
  5. Connect images to related business applications – by ensuring your enterprise scanning solution is designed for integration with document repository systems and workflow strategies.

Does this sound hard? Why? We’ve done it for copying and printing at the same machines!

The laws of natural selection apply to scanning.  Mankind has the tools to evolve solutions to move paper onto our electronic platform. And that, my friends, is Scanthropology 101.

Steve Irons
Author: Steve Irons