Why Document Indexing is Mission-Critical

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As you consider document scanning services for your company, you need to know the key ingredient to document management success. That ingredient is document indexing, the mission-critical step for efficient retrieval of scanned documents. A review of the benefits of document indexing will help explain its importance and why your document scanning vendor should also be a document indexing expert.

Document Scanning vs. Document Indexing

Scanning documents into a document management application is the first step in an effective paperless office system. The ability to find those documents quickly, however, is crucial to the effectiveness of your document management system.

The ability to accurately and quickly manage, retrieve, track and distribute digital documents and images based on a number of unique document identifiers is a powerful benefit of a quality document management system. Unless high quality scanned images are expertly indexed, employees won’t be able to realize that benefit without time-consuming searches.

What Fields Should Be Indexed?

The first step in effective document indexing is the selection of searchable fields. Since this is the link back to your documents, you should index multiple fields to allow access by a variety of searches.

You can use the same index values you use in your paper-based filing system or easily expand them to include additional values suitable for searching. Examples for accounts payable applications include vendor number, vendor name, invoice number, amount, and date. An HR application, on the other hand, might require searching by employee name, last four digits of a Social Security Number, employment date, or position.

When is it Better to Outsource Indexing?

Indexing can be done by your employees or by a document scanning and indexing company. Using a document conversion company results in higher accuracy, quicker turnaround, lower costs and improved efficiency.

The following criteria indicate a need to have scanning and indexing of your business documents performed by your document indexing specialist:

You want your employees to focus on your core business functions and challenges.
You need to avoid overtime costs and additional personnel costs for document indexing tasks.
You need to accommodate high business volume for an ongoing project.
You require quicker turnaround on a project than your employees can deliver.

Your document conversion company can also incorporate more advanced processes when indexing your business documents, such as:

Match and merge processes: populating index fields automatically by matching values and merging them with an existing database
Auto-indexing with detailed barcode sheets
OCR (optical character recognition), allowing full text search capability
More detailed quality control procedures

It’s possible to design a document management solution that incorporates a combination of scanning and indexing by your own staff and a document conversion services provider.

One such scenario might be when archived files are converted and indexed by a document management company and uploaded to a document management system, and new files are scanned and indexed into that same system by your own staff.

Another popular scenario is “distributed scanning”, in which files are scanned at the point of usage throughout your organization. The digital images can then be pushed to a central location for indexing, either by your employees or your document indexing specialists.

What Quality Control Should Be in Place?

Two reasons you should always work with a document management specialist for both scanning and indexing are their expertise and an expectation of high quality results.

If your indexing will be done by your document scanning company, a comprehensive Quality Control Directive should spell out the job details such as index fields, acceptable values, multi-field relationships, data format, etc.

This is necessary because indexing must be meticulously accurate to be useful. Quality control processes built into every stage of your document management solution are essential. After all, there’s no point in having thousands of scanned documents that aren’t searchable.

Document indexing, done properly, is the key to an effective document management solution. For this reason, a document scanning and indexing specialist is always preferable when selecting the provider for your document management services. The expertise they provide will ensure a seamless and painless transition to your company’s paperless office.

Mitchell J. Taube, CDIA Certified

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