Scanning Documents Makes for Better Service

Fujitsu S500M Scanner
People who know me know that I hate paper. I think an excess of paper is an excess of waste and that documents and information stored on a computer are much easier to manage (and harder to lose) than the paper equivalents. I’ve also had bad handwriting since I learned how to write and out of necessity, have been able to type fairly quickly since before I was even a teenager (before that, I could get along).

As a result of my dislike of paper, I’ve always encouraged companies to digitize as many records and documents as possible. Put them online as forms to fill out, scan them, etc. Not only does this save trees and space in back rooms that would ordinarily be record rooms, it ensures sanity. Documents that are scanned in, tagged, cross referenced, and searchable through fairly advanced computer systems are a lot more manageable (and flexible) than the plethora of documents located in some filing cabinet somewhere in the basement.

I had to go to a company today and hand in a form. I was surprised, but also impressed when the lady processing my form put it through a document scanner and got out a stamp that said “scanned” and placed it in a box. She explained to me that they keep the paper records for a month in case there are any problems, but after that, they destroy them. She also explained that they not only do they save space by not having to store all of documents, but people throughout the company (with proper access, of course) are able to look at the documents right away – there’s no need to come to the records room, find them, and pull them out.

Remember my post about The College Board on Friday? They utilize document scanning as well. The essays that the millions of test takers do every couple of weeks for the SAT? They are scanned in and read by readers throughout the country. It’s infinitely more efficient than sending the essays to readers or than bringing everyone together to read the essays. Duke University (which I wrote about not that long ago as well) is investing in document scanning to make their admissions process more manageable. Both of these organizations have to deal with a lot of paper, so document scanning makes a lot of sense. Educational institutions, hospitals, HR departments, law firms, etc. all deal with a lot of paper and can benefit from document scanning.

Digitized documents are already the future to some extent. It isn’t a mysterious technology, it is realistic and necessary technology. And any technology that makes a previously drawn out process simpler, easier, and more efficient, ends up leading to better service. If document scanning makes it so organizations don’t lose my forms, have less trouble making use of those forms, etc., then it means better service.