What is Scanning

If you have your own business, or work in an industry that needs to handle a large amount of paperwork, you will know that going paperless is very effective way to do your administrative tasks. You can access data easily. You can store it in a central place, so it is accessible anywhere you have an internet connection, and you can easily share it with colleagues or employees.

You can also just as easily keep your household admin running smoothly by going digital. You won’t have to spend hours searching for a specific receipt when tax season comes around either.

One of the most effective ways of updating your business to a paperless environment while also keeping your archives in place is to scan your documents. But what is scanning and is it only related to digitizing documents?

We are here to answer those questions. In this piece we will cover the basic question and tell you more about what scanning is, but we will also try and give you a little more clarity about the types of scanning and the various applications there is of this technology.

Scanning Defined

The most basic way of understanding scanning, is that it is a way of getting hard copies of documents into a digital format. This means that the information from the hard copy can now be easily integrated into different formats and applications.

You can edit it, or add it to a management application, or a program that can mine and organise data from receipts or text based files. You can also share data much more effectively from email to loading it to cloud based storage solutions.

It can also be a good way to create backups of important documents as proof. You can easily scan degree certificates, identification documents, and marriage certificates and so on.

If you have a large archive, you also don’t need to worry too much. There are companies that specialize in large quantity scanning. They will happily convert your archive of documents to digital formats that you can easily integrate with a range of programs and online business solutions (for a fee of course).

But saving yourself the time and effort of converting your documents can really be worth the money. But scanning is also not only related to documents.

Still we are not done with what types of scanning you can do. There are more basic and more complicated aspects to scanning as well. It can also refer to more basic data conversion. Like the information in a barcode that is converted into data when it is scanned at the sales point or check-out counter in a business.

This type of scanning is limited to the barcode and depends on a specific barcode scanner. It also does not have the same amount of data that is converted. Most barcodes will have information on price, manufacturer and product. This can then be used to check stock levels and so on in a retail environment.

Scanning can also be linked to the photography industry. Many professionals and amateur photographers may still have images in older formats, such as slides or negatives. You can scan these older formats with special scanners so you can have high quality copies of older photographs.

Clearly there are many uses for scanning, it just depends on what and how you want to get something from the physical world into the digital world.

Why do you need to scan documents?

Running a business is a hard enough administrative task without having to deal with shoeboxes of receipts, dusty piles of old contracts and outdated filing systems. Scanning documents makes several things much easier. You have a backup of your documents as a start.

Secondly you can assign keywords to files, or compare data trends, or any number of things depending on the application. You can explore several options in terms of how your computer can help you run your business, or household much more smoothly. A scanner also gives a high quality image, where a camera distorts it a little bit.

Another helpful element is Optical Character Recognition software.  This OCR software means that you can also scan documents to editable text files, and not just as pixels or image files. You can easily edit the content of these documents and you can then share it with other stakeholders in your business.

You can file documents much more easily. You can also incorporate certain software applications, so you can find the information you need at the touch of a button. You won’t have to dig in filing boxes again, if you can just type in the relevant key word to find the information you may need for an urgent meeting.

Another good reason to scan your documents (and especially receipts) is that you will have a clear idea about where all your information is. Your accountant will thank you, if you have a bit of an organizing system, it makes their job run that much smoother. Not only will that it save everyone time. And as you well know, if you can save time, you automatically also save money.

There is also an added security bonus to scanning your documents. You can eve have password protection on all the files on a cloud based storage system.

You can protect the sensitive data on your files more carefully and will have backups should any hard copy files go missing, or accidently get damaged. Say from a burst pipe for example. When disaster strikes, you will have other copies to refer to come month end.

As you can see, there is a variety of reasons as to why it will be a good idea to go digital, and scan your documents.

Last words

In this piece we tried to clarify some of the aspects around what scanning is, what its application is, and why might need to do it. Hopefully you have scanned through this piece and now know what you may need to scan next, if you need to invest in a scanning device ad have a clear idea about that.

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