By Paula Loverich, Marketing Manager
Businesses know that in order to excel in the modern age, digitizing their paper files and documents is a necessity. Yet businesses often have so many files and different document types in their file rooms that managers simply cannot imagine actually undertaking the project.
In some cases, a file room may be so full of shelving, cabinets, or papers from decades of operations that businesses have actually started storing them in offsite storage locations. This can result in lost files, or important documents being too difficult to find when they’re needed.
Clearly, someone needs to manage that file room and turn those cumbersome paper documents into searchable digital ones. However, there’s always one giant question that looms over business owners: How much does it cost to scan a file room?
To this question, we give you the same answer we gave to the question of how much does it cost to scan a box: It depends.
The cost of NOT scanning
Before we elaborate on why it depends, let’s look at the flipside: The cost of not scanning your file room. When you have walls lined with cumbersome file cabinets, it’s tempting to just let them sit. However, you are already spending time and money on managing your file room – even if you don’t realize it.
For many businesses, the file room is not just a room; it’s valuable space that can be used for productive business activities. The costs of space, paper, ink, filing equipment, and other office supplies may already be an excessive expense for your business. Additionally, when your workers have to spend time searching for and managing your business’s documents, that’s paid time which could be better spent focusing on their jobs! You may even be hiring workers specifically for filing, pulling, copying papers and sorting documents, which are all positions that become obsolete once your file room becomes digitized.
Based on the average price per square foot of office space in the New York metropolitan area, it would cost approximately $300,000 for a 10 year lease to store 1,000,000 documents in a file room. This does not even account for the cost of personnel, management, copying, filing equipment, lost files and overall business continuity.
Finally, there’s the cost of offsite storage space (if you have chosen to go that route). The price of offsite storage facilities vary widely but will continue to be a monthly expense.
What’s involved in a document scanning project?
Document scanning is a process that requires planning and output from both people and technology. These two forces must work together in unison in order to get this job done effectively and efficiently.
The machine side: Technology
Scanners are often advertised as easy to use. However, when businesses try to undertake scanning projects on their own, especially large scanning projects, they find that it is not quite so simple. The reality is that scanners jam, can be challenging to learn, operate well below rated speeds, and frequently run into technical difficulties. The technological side of scanning a file room can seem so overwhelming that it’s no wonder businesses often opt not to take on a document scanning project.
The human side: People
Before you can even get started with your scanning project, you should evaluate the files and decide what documents should be scanned, stored, or shred. This beginning phase alone can be an incredibly daunting task depending on the size of your file room(s) and the current organization system your business has in place. Experts such as IPS can offer a Business Solutions Consultant to help determine which documents are of importance – and which files should be sent to the shredder.
Once the documents of value have been identified, the scanning portion of the project can begin. Like searching for a document in a messy file cabinet, scanning those files involves a great deal of time and effort. Scanning an entire room of documents is, without a doubt, a big project. Of course, the return on that investment is that you’ll never have trouble finding a document again. However, investing your employees’ time into scanning those documents may not be an efficient use of resources.
Information management experts who specialize in document scanning have the capability to accomplish large scanning projects in an efficient manner by knowing the ins and outs of scanning technology, process management, economies of scale, and addressing any technical difficulties quickly.
What influences the cost of scanning your documents?
A variety of factors greatly influence the cost and magnitude of a scanning project, including:
- The size of the file room – or file rooms.
- The condition, size, and quality of your paper.
- Whether documents are single or double sided.
- And the preparation work involved, such as unfolding documents, pulling out junk, removing excess, and making sure all metal content (paperclips and staples) are detached.
What do you want to DO with your scanned files?
Once documents have been scanned, the next step is organizing them. Storing the files in a file cabinet is one thing, but if you’re scanning your entire file room, chances are you’re in need of a whole new document management system.
This involves creating an ongoing digital document management process. You will likely want a searchable database of your documents, and you’ll need to decide how they will be sorted and where they will be stored.
There are a few potential options for storing your digitized information, including:
- External storage devices include devices like DVDs, hard drives, and flash drives. These are commonly used for storing personal files. However, external devices will only share information with one computer at a time unless those computers are connected by a network.
- Local network storage is more suitable for businesses because it allows you to share information among all of your computers. A drawback of local network storage, however, is that it requires the purchasing of hard drives that take up space and may need costly upgrades.
- Cloud based storage is becoming the top choice for many businesses. Cloud providers offer space on their own servers and do not require you to deal with the hardware concerns of local network storage. Information on the cloud can also be easily accessed from anywhere, making it simpler for employees to access information when working from home or using mobile devices.
So, what will all of this cost?
Businesses in the New York metropolitan area can digitize their documents for less than half the cost of the real estate that currently houses their file room. With just a few answers to some simple questions, you can get a definitive cost of a scanning project from an expert who can provide a quote that takes into consideration your unique situation and needs.
At IPS, our Business Solutions Consultants offer a free file room review and are ready to help you address your document scanning needs every step of the way.