To select between Microfilming and Digitization is a tough call and holding the decision for too long certainly impacts business motives. Although there are different views for both technologies, here I will try to highlight the differences between the scope of the two technologies, to enable you to understand these technologies better and select the appropriate one.
Microfilming: A film on which materials are photographed at greatly reduced size; useful for storage; a magnification system is used to read the material.
Digitization: The process for translating photographs/documents into a digital form that can be recognized by a computer.
As there is a huge difference between the costs incurred and the process adopted for each of the two technologies, explaining each one separately will result in huge documentation, so I will limit this post to the decision making points for selection of appropriate technology as mentioned below:
(a) The first and foremost step is to find out the retention schedule of the document
(b) Second is to find how frequently these documents would need to be accessed
Answers to the above mentioned points and below mentioned guidelines will help you decide the appropriate technology to go for.
Technology Selection Criteria:
(a) If retention is permanent and access is frequent then we suggest Microfilm and Digitization both. As Microfilming will help to archive the document permanently, and damage due to frequent access of the microfilms rolls can be avoided by digitization.
(b) If Retention is permanent and access is rare then we suggest Microfilming as it is a one time process. (this case is rare)
(c) If retention is temporary and access is frequent then Digitization
(d) If retention is temporary and access is rare then Digitization
In today’s scenario many of us may always recommend Digitization and may challenge Microfilming because of following justification:
(1) Cost of microfilming is always higher than scanning as scanners are available for as low as $50 and scanning cost is almost nil, whereas microfilm scanner is much costlier than document scanner, the cost of rolls and processing also adds up to the total cost for every document microfilmed.
(2) Even if documents are classified as Permanent and there is no access, then also we can scan and store it on offline media just like microfilm rolls.
(3) There are formats available such as PDF/A which take care of long term archival and migration of scanned images.
(4) At any time scanned images can be converted to Microfilm easily by Microfilm writer if required.
I also believe that the above mentioned points are valid but the only challenge is the life of media used for digitization which is constantly changing- like today how many of us have floppy drives and zip drives in our PC? Moreover specific software is also required for viewing these images, whereas microfilms are eye readable and can be magnified using light source & lens and the LE rating of microfilm is 500 years.
In spite of the technical challenge mentioned above, I prefer digitization over microfilming, as now a days storage media are cheap (w.r.t number of images it can save), and transferring data from one media to another is also not a challenge. We should also understand that in today’s fast moving business scenario, access of digitized document is more important than simply archiving it. As the information which is not easily accessible is of no use.
Web Site: http://www.newgensoft.com
Bio: Hemant is Senior Manager - Processing Services with Newgen Software Technologies Limited
Organizations are now more concerned about greater efficiency with low cost of operations, a great composition for win-win scenario. Every organization uses paper documents in some way to run their day to day business and is also putting its best efforts to reduce paper usage without affecting its business while trying to improve the efficiency at same time. The best method to achieve the said goal is digitization and automation of the complete business process. Automation through BPM (Business Process Management) solution and digitization through DMS (Document Management System) solutions will improve the process time drastically and eliminate the use of paper documents respectively, a win-win situation.
Basic input for any automation or digitization process is to scan the documents (to eliminate the dependency on paper documents) and capturing of contents on paper documents (to run the process based on the contents mentioned on the paper documents), but the cost of operations and wrong selection of software/ hardware results in dropping the great idea of progress through automation in about 60%-70% of the cases.
In my earlier articles like “Document Quality Analyzer: Automated Quality Checking without Operators “, “DIGITIZATION OUTPUT: Operator, Not Scanner, Defines Production”, “SaaS (Software as a Service) – Software on Subscription Based Model”, “DIGITIZATION – King Without Crown of Business Universe”, “DIGITIZATION REDEFINED – Digital Camera as Book Scanner”, “Data Capture/Entry without Operators (ICR Technology)”, we have shown the methods to bring down digitization cost, but the cost of content capture is still a cause of concern. The simple reason for this is the lack of awareness about great technologies such as ICR (for automated capturing of hand written contents), OMR (automated capturing of bubbles, check marks etc) and OCR (automated capturing of machine printed contents).
Availability of ICR technology has helped to capture content from documents for many years, but the basic requirement of this technology is, documents in structured format (fixed position of text on the documents), whereas about 90% of the documents are semi structured or unstructured, but the advancement in ICR technology has now shown the way to cater even semi/unstructured documents, now even running handwriting can also to captured by the software and saved as digital content. ICR technology is now so flexible that even floating text (if the position of text varies in every document) can also be captured and saved as structured digital content.
Now the full cycle of digitization i.e. “Scanning” and “Content Capture” is completely automated and completed with minimal expenditure, while resulting in huge improvements in efficiency of business processes. A true example of the “KAIZEN” method.
Web Site: http://www.newgensoft.com
Bio: Hemant is Senior Manager - Processing Services with Newgen Software Technologies Limited
Digitization is now an integral part of the business universe and is growing at the speed of lightning. Just like from virtual money, we are not too far from the scenario when we will have negligible amount of paper documents as part of our day to day life.
Newgen with its 15 years of experience in the document management space has found that physical condition of documents plays a major role in the cost of digitization and can impact the decision to delay the digitization in many organization.
Example :: A Scanner with 50PPM speed can produce about 24,000 images in simplex mode and 48,000 images in duplex mode, whereas practically we get a maximum of 10,000 to 12,000 images in a shift of 8 hours for a multiple mode scanning scenario(explained below). This is only 41% leaving the a scope of 59% for improvement and similar is the scope for profit in commercial terms.
Keeping in mind this 59% we have analyzed various bottlenecks in achieving 100% target. Although there are multiple factors which are impacting the daily production, here we are specifying the automated methods to regenerate images, which can increase the scanning output by 30% and can save around 80% of quality checking effort.
Actually quality check is never required in an efficient digitization environment as quality check is nothing but the correction of errors performed at the scanning stage. Subsequently, if we do not commit errors at scanning, quality check is not required. Although it is very difficult to do away with quality check process but we can at least work to minimize quality checking effort.
Here we are proposing to increase scanning output and speed up the quality check process, while reducing errors.
(a) Scanning Output
Scope-1: Most of the projects like insurance, banking, telecom etc. require multiple-mode scanning (color image for photographs & important documents and monochrome/B&W for other supporting documents), but the pages to be scanned in different modes are not at fixed location, so scanning software cannot be used continuously to get the maximum output from scanners.
Now, if we can tightly integrate scanning software with the scanner’s driver, then we can use control sheets with barcodes, where value of barcode will help the scanner to determine the scanning mode like color or monochrome automatically while scanning (without having to stop). So the change in scanner mode will be at driver’s level and not at scanning utility level, now we have the flexibility to keep these control sheets wherever we require in a bundle while scanning, and can use the scanner continuously without interruption.
Scope-2: There are many scanning utilities in which the scanning operator is not able to view the images while scanning is in progress, so the operator has to wait for scanning to complete (for the bunch kept in feeder tray). So, if operator is scanning 50 pages at a time then he is investing one minute in scanning and one minute in checking images after scanning, so total of 2 minutes are required for 50 pages whereas if he is able to see the images while scanning then only one minute is required to complete scanning thus the output will be doubled at the scanning stage, thus increasing the speed by 100%. But practically if we achieve even 50% we are successful.
This can be achieved with the use of ISIS scanning interface, which allows viewing images while scanning is in progress. So, go ahead and shift to a scanning utility with ISIS viewer.
(b) Quality Checking Output
Scope-1: QC operator views every image and physical document to verify the errors, if image requires rescanning, then it is marked and sent for rescanning. This entails extra efforts and time wasted in performing the same task again and again. To avoid repeated effort if we deploy flatbed scanners at every QC operator workstation then it becomes costly and time consuming, as a single page scanning on flatbed consumes min 15 to 30 seconds.
Now, if we use entry level professional digital camera (with the option for remote shooting) with scanning utility/software, then we can save lot of time, effort and money. Cost of digital camera is approx 1/3 of A3 flatbed scanner and the scanning speed is also better than that of flatbed scanners. Moreover, the transportation is also easy for digital cameras due to compact size, and we can scan bound documents also and that too at the quality checking stage. Now we can drop dedicated rescanning activity.
Nowadays every government or private organization, university/educational institution is moving to automation and is trying hard to get online, and almost every one of us is in some or the other way related to these educational institutions and government/private organizations. The degree or diploma certificates, marksheets, experience certificates, ID proof, Address proof etc. issued by these organizations become the identity of an individual.
Educational qualification documents like degree, passing certificate, marksheet, birth certificate etc are required at many places if an individual wants to apply for a job, go for higher studies, or go abroad. These documents are also required for various processes related to government agencies, like applying for driving license at RTO, applying for government jobs, getting a passport etc. To go through any of these processes applicants generally submit photocopies (sometimes attested) of these certificates as a proof of their qualification or age proof etc. These are further verified by the issuing authority of these documents to ensure that these documents are genuine. In this process of verification, huge manpower, money (in courier etc.), time is wasted, while the process is also prone to various frauds.
Case in point: In the year 2007, the government called suitable candidates for filling of about 60,000 posts of teachers. After more than 3 years of their appointment, till date around 30% of these teachers have not received their salaries (as the verification of various certificates like educational qualification certificate, birth certificate etc. are pending). The reason is that, these candidates have completed their education from a university/education board of a state other than the state in which they are employed. Even the employers have to pay the price by spending huge amounts of money on repeated communication for verification of certificates via courier, additional manpower etc. These teachers are still suffering and their dissatisfaction is ought to impact the quality of education imparted by them.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a host of other such cases, where lack of collaboration between organizations or government agencies has had grave consequeces and impacted our lives.
Newgen’s enterprise-class document management solution, based on its proven Enterprise Content Management and Business Process Management platforms, helps to archive and automate documents with easy retrieval/search and advanced document routing for approvals. The solution eliminates the need for manual or physical document verification at all levels and helps eliminate the use of paper documents used for correspondence between organizations. Newgen’s OmniDocs (ECM platform) can act as a connecting agent between multiple organizations for verification and issuing of documents. This will help to eliminate additional expenses, manpower, and loss of opportunity and most importantly it helps in preventing frauds (ulcer of our society). The issuing authority may charge a nominal amount for the verification to meet the expenses incurred in providing services.
The solution is there, but lack of awareness and knowledge about the solution has been the biggest roadblock for the better functioning of our society and day to day life. Collaboration is the key, so let’s join the concept of One World One Workspace.
Why should a business have computers when all of the business’s information is on paper?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to have all of the documents available for viewing on the computer or having scanned images of documents on a device that can easily and quickly be connected to the computer. This is becoming increasingly true since PDF files can be viewed by anyone who has a PDF viewer (freeware) and going forward we can use PDF/A technology to make it more secure and long lasting with many add-on features.
Going by various industry reports, we found that:
On an average 7000 sheets are used yearly by an employee in any office which costs to about Rs 2500 / employee / year. About 10% of the employee effort is used in filing and storing of documents and about 20% of employee effort is wasted in retrieving a document. 5% of the documents are lost or misfiled and about 30% of effort is wasted in reconstruction of these documents, and most important is the space used to store these documents at premium office location which is almost 15% to 20% the total space. So around 70% of the effort is wasted to perform 30% of the job efficiently.
Storage of these physical files requires filing cabinets costing as high as Rs 15,000 for a standard five-drawer lateral filing cabinet, with the average filing cabinet using 15.7 square feet at an average cost of Rs 25–Rs 30 per square foot, which come to about Rs 350 per filing cabinet per year, furthermore, 40% of the files in those cabinets are duplicate information, and 85% is never accessed again.
Whereas, if we consider digital storage, a single CD is can save twelve thousand documents or one full filing cabinet and a DVD can save upon 1.5 lacks documents or ten full filing cabinets. For companies which require bulk volume of document scanning and document conversion can be a big problem unless a proper document scanning solution is in place.
But how many of us have broad view of the digitization process (Document Scanning)? And how many realize that decisions made at every step – especially in the procurement of the scanner itself – will affect total costs of the digitization? In fact, the failure to analyze correct equipment and associated software is often the cause of higher-than-expected scanning costs. These costs include the “cost of poor quality,” which an organization might incur months or even years after a document has been scanned, when the document is found to be unreadable and unusable.
The best way to avoid this kind of additional cost is to automate the digitization process by minimizing the dependency on man and machine. To achieve the optimum combination; invest appropriate time in select scanning equipment and digitization software. Please remember the fact that the cost of world’s best workflow and document management software’s (storage/archival and retrieval system for scanned documents) price is negligible in front the cost of scanning the documents, so have more emphasis to reduce the cost of scanning, even a paisa (Indian currency) saved on every page can result in saving of millions or billions for overall scanning volume, now see where stands the cost of workflow or document management software, now this doesn’t means that you can have any workflow or document management software, pay attention of the features, robustness and scalability.
Selection criteria of scanning equipment (scanner) depends on its feature like dynamic image processing technology, automatic de-skewing, border removal, and other features that ensure clean, crisp usable images, straight paper path, image capturing technology, speed, paper handling mechanism, duty cycle, after sale support etc. The up-front investment in quality will reduce the need for rescans, speed up the quality assurance step in the value chain and minimize the chance that a poor quality image will slip through undetected, creating problems down the road.
Similarly the criteria for selection of digitization software depends on its feature like ISIS/TWAIN driver, view image while scanning, easy to replace, insert, delete at variable locations easily, auto categorization of documents, auto scan on different modes, image compression, available file formats, advance image processing options, customized scanning parameters for different types of documents, easy and customizable indexing/metadata entry provision etc.
And the most important is to judge that all our effort has delivered the right results so the best way to ensure quality, also reduce manpower count is to look for Automatic Document Quality Analyzer which does all types of image quality analysis automatically on more that 50 parameters and ensures that no below standard image moves to final archival software.
Swati Pandey19th Feb 14 Posted a comment on Facilitating Financial Inclusion through Digital Transformation
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