Start with the Basics
Few projects sound more like a disaster waiting to happen than a “knowledge management and complete workflow process overhaul.” Instead of falling into that trap when transitioning customers off paper, then, pick a limited project that shrinks the paper monster in a specific area. Attach the scanner to a dedicated computer (at least during the initial process) and ask your client to put one person in charge of it. That limits training requirements and promotes consistent file naming.
Use as many of the tools your client already owns as possible. For example, Windows 10’s File Explorer app searches file contents respectably these days. When you save scanned documents as PDF files, File Explorer allows users to locate and retrieve those digital documents quickly. Beware, though—many people still believe that digging through a file cabinet for 10 minutes is faster than typing “Invoice 2609” and hitting enter.
Apps Are Key
Every sheet-fed scanner comes with software that converts images into machine-encoded text. Whether those applications come from a third-party provider, such as ABBYY FineReader, or from the hardware manufacturer, like Epson’s own Scan 2 OCR, these tools play a valuable role in the scanning and file conversion process.
Brother includes the PaperPort OCR application from Nuance with its scanners, and Fujitsu’s own ScanSnap software comes with its devices. The latter provides plenty of flexibility, including the ability to scan to Google Drive, Salesforce, Microsoft Office applications, and SharePoint. The latest versions, as well as some competitive software offerings, allow users to send files to Evernote, FTP servers, and just about any other destination within the scan job parameters.
Affordable document management systems like those from M-Files Inc. and eFileCabinet Inc., along with more sophisticated workflow applications, can make life even easier by directly triggering the Alaris scanner through the TWAIN, ISIS, or WIA drivers.
Still searching for the right solution? Hundreds of free OCR utilities are waiting on Download.com.
Scan, Save, and Retrieve
Digital document transformation starts with a sharp, clearly scanned image. The Alaris S2050 produces those files quickly and accurately. Optical input resolution, which measures how much detail a scanner can “see,” comes in at 600 dpi for the Alaris, which is more than good enough for office work.
Output resolution on saved files ranges from 75 to 1200 dpi. Some OCR software will balk at reading low-quality scans, but every software utility we tested gobbled the Alaris S2050 scans with no problem. The output resolution chosen when you save the image after scanning must be set high enough for whichever OCR application you use to work accurately, but if the information you’re capturing is large enough to be legible at lower resolution a reduced output setting will save some disk space.
Indexing files so you can find them easily later is an important part of the digitization process. The Capture Pro Software Limited Edition solution included with the Alaris scanner lets workflow designers get pretty picky about what they index. Unlike early OCR systems, which weren’t powerful enough to process more than designated portions of a page, modern systems like Capture Pro can index a full page of text quickly and accurately. Users can still mark and index barcodes or certain fields, but most projects only require a standard OCR pass to capture everything on a document.
Whether your objective is reducing waste, improving security, or facilitating collaboration, paper-elimination projects are worthwhile ventures for your clients. A quality desktop scanner and the accompanying OCR solution are the first tools you need to get started.
Opening image: Alaris S2050 scanner from Kodak Alaris