Document Management article series
Weighing Your Options: Deciding Whether to Have Document Management Done In-house or Outsourced
Written with Mathew Kuss
When making the decision on how to handle your document management, there are many options to weigh. For some institutions, in-house may be a great option while for others having their imaging and storage outsourced is essential. To make this decision, we have come up with a brief questionnaire to enable you to make a choice as well as some information regarding benefits of outsourcing.
Questions to ask
Analysis: The first thing you will want to do when you’re making the determination on your document management needs is to review your project. Here are some questions to ask:
- How large is your project? Is it something that requires a few hundred pages to scan or thousands?
- How long will your project last? Is this a need that will occur once a year or more?
These questions will help give you a clear indication of whether you want to explore in-house. Especially if your project is small and may need to be done only once, internalizing might be the answer. However, if you have hundreds or thousands of pages and expect the project to be ongoing or annual, subcontracting may be the better choice.
Costs: How much will this cost? Several factors will need to be weighed to give you a better idea which solution is for you (in-house vs outsourced).
- How much time can you afford to take employees from their ‘regular’ tasks? If the project is long or becomes unexpectedly long, will your business suffer from this staffer not at their usual post? Will the work take more than one employee? How long should it take for them to complete this task? Scanning can become a mundane, repetitive task, that often doesn’t get the attention it requires. As a result, there can be a back-log of files needing scanning/processing, mishandling at the scanner (i.e. double feed pages), and obscured information via incomplete file preparation.
- To orchestrate a task like document management in-house, there will be hardware in the form of scanners and computers, as well as software costs to absorb and may even require a yearly contract. IT staff will be involved for initial implantation and then will have ongoing responsibilities for file space maintenance and allocating data to its final destination (i.e. repository storage). Additionally, new user training with hardware and software for the life of this newly created department. Do the costs associated with having the hardware and software make sense for your business? If this is an ongoing task, you may need to set throughput guidelines to establish employee productivity.
- Scanning can be challenging. Especially, if there are many pages to scan, you want to make sure they are done in a timely manner. Your staffer should have experience in large volume scanning to ensure the project is handled in a timely fashion. How much time will scanning these documents take?
- Your facility is also a factor. Do you have the space to dedicate to this equipment? To the storage? Is it financially responsible to dedicate space to these tasks?
Take away: When you ask yourself the above questions, were there some that surprised you? Be sure to consider all angles before jumping into a costly venture. Take the time to evaluate the above areas to make your determination.
Outsourcing fact sheet
When you outsource your document management and/or storage to a professional agency, you will giving this important task over to professionals. By definition, you will get a better quality than you would likely be able to produce within your organization. Businesses who offer document management services continue to stay abreast of the latest in record management software tools and hardware. Additionally, having your documents stored off-site provides increased security for your organization.
Take a look at this list of rewards to outsourcing and measure against your answers from the first section.
Quality of outcome: When you are having your scanning and storage done professionally your results will be better. The value you receive is reflected through six key areas:
- the scans will be clean (not tilted or having corners tucked up).
- you will be able to have a variety of document types scanned without trouble (from small to large and odd scale to auto image cleanup).
- you will be able to scan in large documents that may not have been able to be completed in-house (by using business grade scanners, size shouldn’t be a problem).
- index/verification of documents w/OCR assistance when applicable.
- quality control measures will be in place to ensure image quality and data Index verification.
- and your document retrieval system will be top notch, ODBC compliant
Especially if you need specialized sizes of scans, the quality and precision of having imaging done by professionals is important to consider.
Eliminate hidden costs: When you explored the first section of this article, you may have come to the realization that there were aspects you hadn’t considered. The cost of reallocating employee time as well as the cost of maintenance can both add up quickly. When you outsource, you will negotiate your price in advance and have the security of knowing additional costs are unlikely.
Timely results: Documents that are archived are often referred to again. Professional scanners will complete your job within a minimal period of time and have the tools to get your request quickly.
Secure storage: Last but certainly not least, how your documents are stored can be just as critical. When you store through a professional, you want to ensure your provider has a secure facility that is environmentally safe (free from mold or pollutants). Once your documents are digital, you still may need to access the original documents from time to time. Your professionals should give you a short turn around for that access.
- If your business benefits from a short time between document creation and access to the final scan, outsourcing may be the best option for you.