As much we like to think the opposite, we still live in a paper world and the electronic office still continues to elude us.
I realized this after a colleague of mine told me about a records management conference she attended in June of this year. At the conference, there were records management storage companies, shredding companies, and scanning companies, each selling services just to handle the enormous amounts of paper in today’s organizations!
What’s funny is despite all these paper storage companies, the problems with storing paper records haven’t changed:
- paper can get lost
- paper files can be defaced or damaged
- space is limited and office space is expensive
- paper is harmful to the environment
- the cost of using paper is high
- all that printing and filing and retrieving creates more work for you
So, is SharePoint the solution?
The idea of having paper documents live as electronic documents in SharePoint, with metadata to make sorting easy, and also searchable, is a fine idea.
However, I think that one of the missing pieces when organizations use SharePoint as a document control centre is that it is too difficult to get paper into SharePoint. It usually involves scanning the paper document and then manually loading it to SharePoint into the correct folder. Plus, users have to set the metadata to make the content searchable.
These steps hinder adoption to the point that most people would rather just store the paper file in a filing cabinet, which means that it is taking up valuable space, and there is no electronic search on the file.
The easy way to get documents into SharePoint
Recently, I've been working with clients and we've found a great solution for scanning documents into SharePoint: PSIGEN.
We have partnered with PSIGEN, using their product, PSI-Capture, to extend the capabilities of SharePoint.
PSIGEN’s 43,000 features attests to its incredible flexibility at customizing the capture of scans.
It was created with a service bureau in mind, so the behavior of how the paper is captured, separated into individual electronic files, and migrated to SharePoint are all automated by specifying the details in the configuration.
What this means is that now our clients have a very powerful capture solution. It’s as easy as putting a stack of paper into a scanner, indexing the files in PSI-Capture and pulling out important metadata automatically and pushing those now electronic files to SharePoint with the metadata already attached. Compared to the scenario above, this is not only less effort, but more reliable in the long term.
For example, with a recent client, they needed a way to get paper files into SharePoint, and these files were sent to them by the members of their organization. The scanned file had to be saved to a site based on the member’s organizational ID, and then be named according to the organization’s naming convention for records. They also wanted to be able to set the date the paper files were received as well as the type of document.
This was all made possible by creating a cover sheet, that would be placed on top of the paper file, and would have the member ID, received date, and document type printed on it. When scanned by PSI-Capture, it would extract the relevant data from the cover sheet, and push the electronic scan to the correct site and library, setting the relevant columns in the library.
What this means for our clients
The decision to partner with PSIGEN expands our enterprise content management capabilities within SharePoint and helps organizations move away from stacks and stacks of paper documents crammed in who knows how many filing cabinets.