Factors to Consider When Digitizing Paper Documents

Digitizing Paper Documents Determining ROI of Document Conversion

There are several factors to consider when determining the ROI of document conversions. This article is designed to help you maximize your return on investment by thinking through the best way of digitizing paper documents for your organization. Careful considerations to hard costs and soft costs along with planning which paper documents to convert and when to convert them can make the difference between success and failure.  

Costs Associated to digitizing paper documents

As part of determining the ROI of document conversions, organizations need to consider at what point in the paper’s life cycle they intend to do the scanning. This is important because as paper moves through its life cycle, it not loses value, it also begins incurring hard costs for such activities as retrieving, re-filing, transporting, storing, and – for the majority of paper – destroying it. Clearly, scanning early in paper’s life cycle will reduce hard costs.

Organizations also need to consider how good their policies and procedures for managing paper records are. An organization’s hard costs will be higher if they do not have good policies and procedures in place or if they have high personnel turnover, as those factors can result in escalating, perpetual offsite storage bills. If no one is really sure what’s in all those boxes, no one will want to pull the trigger to have it destroyed.

digitizing paper documentsThe Soft Costs of digitizing paper documents

Some organizations fail to consider the soft costs involving their company’s resources. To avoid additional soft costs, add sections to the ROI analysis that include a reasonable estimate of intangibles, including workflow efficiencies and the benefits of electronic formats for worker mobility, disaster recovery, and security.

Additional Considerations for Converting Paper Documents

Organizations should not approach document conversions as a “scan it all or do nothing” decision. In fact, the best way of determining the ROI of document conversion may be to focus the ROI analysis on smaller projects where paper growth and productivity are concerns or address large collections of legacy paper.

Factors to consider for inactive documents.

For example, by scanning inactive documents that have a long (or permanent) retention requirement, not only will the cost of storing, retrieving, and returning the paper be eliminated, but the information will be much more accessible and usable. On the other hand, scanning inactive documents that are close to their disposition date may have little value, especially if key data was captured in the creation stage.

Factors to consider for active documents.determining roi document conversion

For organizations that need time to prepare for change, implement tools, and provide training on managing electronic documents, keeping paper during the active part of its life cycle may make the most sense.

Other lifecycle factors to consider.

Organizations must also remember to determine the ROI of document conversions at each of the stages of its life cycle to identify the true ROI. This also will help them determine whether they should begin their paperless office project with their legacy information or work on a day-forward basis.

Contact Us to Learn More about determining rOI of document conversion

Southwest Solutions Group® Information Management Solutions (IMS) Division specializes in innovative document and information efficiency solutions including digitizing paper documents. For more information about how we can help you pursue the paperless office, send a message or call 1-800-803-1083.


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