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Document Management: Choosing the Right Solution

by Bill Leslie, CFO, Scan 123

I recently called a company in another state that I do business with. It’s a large company with dozens of customer service representatives. I needed to talk to them about some documents that I had mailed to them. After I had a real person on the phone, which fortunately didn’t take long, she said, “One moment please.”  A few seconds later she said “I’m ready, sir, I have your letter and documents in front of me.”

I was impressed. I had expected to be transferred two or three times, explaining my situation over and over. I thought there was slim chance that I would ever speak with someone who could find my documents. This company was obviously using a document management system, and was using it well. With my documents at her fingertips it was a simple matter to take care of business. Less than two minutes later, I hung up—a happy customer.

A decade ago, only large companies could afford a document management system. Not any more. Today, even small companies need a system. Fortunately, because of changes in technology, inexpensive systems are available for businesses of all sizes.

Here are six things to look for in choosing a document management system:

1) The system should be flexible and adaptable to the way that you run your business. You should be able to quickly retrieve documents based on any criteria you choose. Invoice number? Customer name? Customer number? Order date? Additionally, you should be able to add new search criteria at your discretion, without cost, and without contacting a programmer.

2) Choose a system that uses a common format for file storage, like jpeg or pdf. Some systems use a proprietary format that must be licensed annually—for a hefty fee. Proprietary formats pose a problem if you ever try to move to another document management system. Your documents could be held hostage, you might have to continue to pay a fee to the old service or lose access to your documents. Choose a company that offers complete document portability. If you ever decide to change services, you should be able to get a complete file backup of your documents that can be read on any computer for a nominal fee.

3) The system should use an inexpensive, off-the-shelf scanner produced by a major electronics manufacturer. Some systems require that you use their proprietary hardware. You may pay too much for out-of-date hardware, and there may be hidden costs associated with that hardware. For example, you may be required to use one specific company to maintain the scanners, and if you don’t keep full maintenance you may be turned away when you call for support, e.g. “Sorry, that seems to be a hardware problem, and you aren’t on hardware support.”

4) Your document solution should provide a high level of data security in several ways:

5) Some solutions use a centralized scanning solution. These are designed to have documents collected from multiple locations and sent to one or two large, slow, expensive scanners. That’s an inefficient solution for the following reasons:/h4>

To be effective, a scanning solution should involve daily scanning by various employees as a normal part of their work. That means small, affordable scanners scattered throughout your building, right on employees’ desktops.

6) Choose a company that is not closely affiliated with any particular industry. For example, in the automotive industry, each of the major dealership system providers has developed their own “in house” system. But your businesses don’t all fit neatly into one industry niche. You want one solution that works for all your businesses.

Scanning can provide huge benefits in efficiency and customer satisfaction if you pick the right scanning solution.

Learn more about Scan123 at or stop by and see them at Auto/Mate’s Customer User Summit, October 11-13, 2017 in San Antonio, TX.


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