More and more forms of documenting business, school and life is now digital. But some forms are not and scanning documents helps to bridge this gap. Moving from a paper based office to a digital office is a good choice for almost all businesses.
It saves storage space, makes finding information easier, and you can store and archive data on secure servers or external hard drives off site. You will be able to search for data or edit files with ease and keep your admin staff much happier.
But one of the most important questions you need to consider when you decide to move your filing into the digital realm is, what are the costs involved? As someone who runs a business you know that unnecessary spending without return on investment is not a smart move. So how do you calculate the cost of scanning?
If you scan occasionally and don’t have much of a backlog it could make sense to buy a scanner for the office. The investment into an in-house machine could be justified if you have a few documents a day that needs to be scanned for editing or emailing. There are several options available that can save you money if you have been paying to scan a few pages at a time at a copy or print shop.
If you need to scan special documents that are very large, or fragile or sensitive, you will need to consider paying for someone who can handle these types of documents. The only other option is to invest in a large format scanner, but these can be very expensive.
It will be more economic to pay someone else to scan one or two fragile maps for you, than paying for a specialist scanner. They have experience and expertise when it comes to strange scanning requests. You will also need to look at the maintenance involved if you buy a large or specialized scanner and it might not be viable for your business.
The real question about cost comes in when you want to scan thousands of documents. If you have to digitize and entire archive of receipts, purchase orders and other expenses or if you need to have a more secure backup for something like patient files, bulk scanning is a much more viable option. So how do you go about determining the price and if it is worth it?
How many pages?
The number of pages that you will need to scan is the key factor when it comes to scanning cost. But bulk scanning is supposed to save you time and effort so you can’t have someone counting pages for days. How can you make an estimate of the number of pages?
There are formulas available where you calculate the number of pages by measuring the thickness of the piles of paper. This method is also not the most practical, because your documents aren’t stacked in towers ready to be measured (if they are, you are probably in need of more help than just a bulk scanning company).
Rule of thumb
Better options are to have a few general estimates, or rules of thumb that can help you to get a rough but fairly accurate estimate of the number of pages that will be involved. There are a few rules of thumb that you can use, and we will give you the info here, but check them against your own documents before you get the wrong idea. There are many variables that can influence the accuracy of the calculation.
Things like paper thickness, moisture in the paper, compression of pages, file sizes and so on, can all have an effect on the number of pages you think you are dealing with. Usually you can work with the idea that one inch (2.54 cm) equals about 150 loose pages stacked together.
A standard filing storage box can handle around 2000 pages and a lever arch file holds about 300. You can use these general estimates to calculate the number of pages you will need to have scanned. You can also use one or two of your own files as test cases and base the rest of your estimates on the number of pages you store on average.
Getting an accurate quote
The number of pages, the complexity of the scanning exercise, the types of resolution and so will all impact on the total cost of the scanning. But if you can give a clear idea of the numbers to the scanning companies when you request a quote your idea of the cost will be more realistic.
Once you have an idea of what the scanning will cost, you can weigh it up against the space you will gain, the time it will take, the implication it will have for your administration staff and the changing needs of your IT systems. If you save a significant amount of space, you could need a smaller space and save on rent, or you could utilize the space more cost effectively.
Scanning cost is generally determined by the number of pages that you need to scan. You can weigh up if it will be worth buying a scanner, to save on the occasional scan at a shop.
The cost can rise if you need to scan large format documents, thick or glossy pages or fragile documents and need a special scanner or need to pay for specialized services. But generally a business that looks at going digital will need to look at bulk scanning services and determine the cost by looking at how many standard documents there are involved. As with any venture good planning can save you money.
The costs will not only rest on the rate per page someone else charges you, but also on how you planned what you need from them. Hopefully our tips and tricks can help you with the planning and costing of completely moving your business into the digital realm.