• Jake Becker

Top 5 Hidden Costs in you Document Scanning Process

Top 5 Hidden Costs in your Document Scanning Process

1. Under-utilizing scanners

2. Over-acquiring scanners

3. Over-staffing

4. Your time clock, your enemy

5. Maintaining the Whiteboard

Part I: Under-Utilizing Your Scanners

Let’s face it - the document scanner manufacturer’s “images scanned per minute” is akin to the auto dealer’s MPG listing on a new car: more like an “as if!” than anything you can ever reach. Where do they come up with these throughputs? In the vacuum of space?

With for-profit document scanning service bureaus, a big chunk of your money is made at the scanner. So the more you can push through per hour, the fatter your wallet will be. For both in-house scanning departments and for-profits, maximizing scanner throughput means you have to buy fewer scanners and that means cost savings, too.

So we can’t reach the manufacturer’s spec. Does that mean we give up and don’t even try? The scanner’s printed throughput may be an unattainable ideal, but we can still set goals to improve.

Among the best steps that improve scanner throughput include:

Set a baseline: determine % scanner use for every hour operated;

Set a series of short-term goals: increase by X% for next month, repeat;

Utilize a system based benchmark charting tool to track and account for improvements;

Look up the chain: see how document preparation quality affects scanner throughput. A good scanning operations software management system can provide reports for this.

Depending on where you start, you should expect to achieve significant improvements. And who knows, you may even reach that up-till-now, never-believed-it-could-happen utopia known as the scanning manufacturer’s images per minute specifications!

Look for Part II of our Top 5 Hidden Costs in your Document Scanning Process next week.

Have Questions about Improving your Document Scanning Operations?

Recordsforce will be happy to answer your questions and help you on the path towards more efficient operations and bigger profits.

Part II: Buying Too Many Document Scanners

Running a document scanning operation requires one key ingredient: scanners! So what do you do when your operation grows? You buy more scanners. But let’s face it: buying a high quality, bureau environment scanner is no small investments. These document scanners can go for $30k, $40k, $50k...heck some are even over $100k!

As we discussed in our previous post on hidden costs, if you are not running an efficient operation, you need more equipment to do the job. Yet, if you’ve been able to optimize your document conversion operation’s scanning team, you are able to push more paper through fewer scanners. Fewer scanners, means fewer capital expenses, which means your company can pocket the savings!

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for buying good, high quality scanners for your business. Making sure you have the best document scanners means your clients - be they external customers or another department in your company - get the best results. What I am advocating, though, is having the right amount of scanners.

Some things to consider when optimizing scanner throughput:

- Buy scanners with the fastest throughput capabilities that still provide high-quality images

- Determine your goal for scanner utilization: determine % scanner use for every hour operated

- Utilize a document scanning operations management system to systematically track and measure your progress against your goals

- Be aware that document prep quality impacts scanner throughput, too!

At the end of the day, if you can push more business through fewer pieces of document scanning equipment, your bottom line will definitely thank you.

Look for Part III of our Top 5 Hidden Costs in your Document Scanning Process next week.

Have Questions about Improving your Document Scanning Operations?

Recordsforce will be happy to answer your questions and help you on the path towards more efficient operations and bigger profits.

Part III: Stop the Over-Hiring Madness!

Too often, document scanning service bureaus hire too many production employees. What’s that costing your organization?

These over-hires can come from a couple of fronts. Most commonly, this occurs from under-utilizing equipment or software, specifically your document scanners and index capture applications. As discussed in a previous blog, scanner utilization capacity is a big issue: what percent of time is the scanner running (i.e. making you money) when staffed? If you’re at 50% utilization, you likely have two times as many staff you need!

As for indexing prowess, manual indexing is rife with inefficiencies...having one or two too many keystrokes or motions can kill your productivity...and profitability! And don’t think that just because you’ve deployed intelligent data capture that you are off the hook, there is still QC and optimization that takes up resources there, too. If you are not driving continual process improvements then you are losing out!

The second is how you staff up. Say you get a big one-time project - first, congrats! The hitch: it has tight enough turn times that you need to add staff - preppers, scanners and indexers - to meet their deadline. How many people do you add? How do you know that you’ve not over-hired? Say you can let go of extra hires, but what about your management time in recruiting and hiring too many people? It’s enough to keep you up at night!

So how do you stop the over-hiring madness? Here’s some ideas to help win the battle:

- Determine your goal for throughput: (1) determine % scanner use for every hour operated, (2) determine # of files indexed/hr and what your target for improvement is.

- Run a validation batch for the one-time project. Make it a big enough to be representative of the work you will receive. Pay attention to resource requirements of the batch.

- Consider using the weight of the boxes to determine how much paper is in them! It can help you scope out the job work requirements, too. More on this in future blogs...

- Utilize a document scanning operations management system to systematically track and measure your progress against your goals.

Look for Part IV of our Top 5 Hidden Costs in your Document Scanning Process next week.

Have Questions about Improving your Document Scanning Operations?

Recordsforce will be happy to answer your questions and help you on the path towards more efficient operations and bigger profits.

Part IV: Your Time Clock, Your Enemy

Behold, the lowly time clock! Sacred means of ensuring that hourly workers are paid for the work they put in. The origins of “punch in-punch out”.

The time clock has been a staple of document scanning operations everywhere for decades, back even when microfilm ruled the world. Employees come in, punch in, and get to work!

But as time marches on, your time clock has become an expensive anachronism, better suited for Fred Flintstone’s quarry than the modern document conversion production office. So what if it’s old-fashioned? How does that make it my enemy?

Well it boils down to - you guessed it - time and money! Your run-of-the-mill, every-office-has-one time clock is an evil time waster, costing you hard bucks! But like any nemesis, this enemy can be a direct head on bad guy, or it can be more nuanced and subtle.

As a head-on enemy, your time clock is bad because is just and only that - a time clock. Its sole purpose is to track hours to pay your staff. It doesn’t provide your management team the means to allocate costs to specific clients or individual projects. It doesn’t let you see employee idle time - time spent not working on a task on your dime. It just let’s you know that Employee A worked 6.54 hours today...but you either spend untold hours creating other ways to allocate costs or you just plain don’t know how well you did on a job until the billing is done. (If you are tracking work time to specific client projects, you may be doing that inefficiently, too...look for this to be addressed in a future blog!)

As a sneak attack enemy, your time clock is downright evil because of where and “when” it is located. It’s in the break room, or at the front door...not at the desk or station where the work is to be done. That means you are paying for your employees to get ready to work at the beginning of the day, and prepare to leave at the end of the day, in addition to when direct client work is being done!

To turn your time clock from your enemy into your ally, you should have one that is integrated into a document scanning operations production management system. To eliminate the head-on enemy, an employees’ time is tracked for compensation as well as for which jobs they are spending time on, etc. Additionally, the best production management systems have the time clock located at the employees’ desk/work area, not at the door or in the breakroom. So they only login once they are ready to work, saving additional hard dollars, too.

Part V - Maintaining The Whiteboard

In a previous blog (“The Tale of the Virtual Whiteboard”, July 3. 2013) we discussed the pitfalls of maintaining a whiteboard. You know, the place where you manage all your scanning “work in process” (WIP), the place where you see which individual record set is where in your process. Is ABC Company’s AP in prep or scanning? Is XYZ Corp’s HR records out of Index QC yet?

Or perhaps you’ve graduated to tracking this work on an excel spreadsheet...hooray! You or your team is able to update a spreadsheet and save some marker ink…

But is this really cost effective? Or are you wasting time and money doing it the old fashioned way? Let’s explore...first you have to have someone on the team constantly staying on top of the jobs and updating their status. Then you have to hope that they do not make a mistake and erase a job or accidentally delete a row of data.

There are many hidden costs in maintaining your whiteboard/spreadsheet.

- Accuracy problems - How accurate is it? An error on the spreadsheet could mean missing a deadline or misplacing a record set

- Productivity problems - you’re just putting out fires and trying to keep the WIP tracking up to date. You don’t even have time to address how to make your scanner techs more productive, or work with your preppers to get their error rates down.

- Clock Problems - Are you adding extra management time just to keep track of what your staff can do for you?

How do you fix this situation? With a proper production management system for your document scanning operations, you can eliminate all of these hassles and much more. Your production employees through this system will eliminate the need for a spreadsheet or whiteboard, provide productivity insights and track your staff’s hours, all in one place. Use your whiteboard for what it was meant for - drawing awesome pictures!

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