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Guest Post - Scan to Email is not the Right Way to Digitize Your Business

Jun 30, 2017 10:38:00 AM by Wouter Koelewijn

An increasing number of organizations are digitizing their business processes to improve productivity and reduce costs and the risk of human error. Often organizations start by scanning to email where a person scans a document which is sent into their personal email inbox and is then manually delivered to the final destination. This is extremely bad for businesses and replacing scan to email should be a key part of any organization’s digitization strategy.

How Scan to Email is Damaging Your Business

The manual nature of the scan to email process and its limitations are outdated and paradoxical to everything digitization aims to achieve. Scan to email also poses several issues which makes it harmful for your business, including:

  • Unsecure and Non-Compliant – A scanned document sent by email allows sensitive and confidential documents to be forwarded easily to anyone outside the company or to the wrong people internally. In industries that must adhere to compliance regulations to ensure privacy, the potential for human error or malicious behaviour can have serious consequences.
  • Inconsistent Document Format, Quality and File Naming – Today’s scan or multifunction printer devices are complicated with complex menu systems. The user has to make many decisions, including the output file type, scan quality settings and name of the document. This results in inconsistencies, making it difficult to manage digital content.
  • Limitations of Image Files – Traditional scan to email usually only creates an image file as a read-only PDF. Consequently text cannot be keyword searched and retrieved easily. Costly time is spent on searching for documents that could be better spent on more productive activities.
  • A misuse of Email – Any IT administrator will tell you that cost of email storage is expensive. Scanning to email, forwarding by email – clogs up email infrastructure. Rarely does anyone permanently delete scans sent by the printer.

What is the alternative?

So, what is the alternative?  Quite simply, companies should look for solutions that offer digital document workflows with built-in tools to eliminate these issues. Removing as much of the manual process as possible speeds up the process, improves accuracy and provides consistent digital content that can be searched and retrieved easily. Further, workflows that automatically send the encrypted digital document to a pre-defined, authorized destination is a critical need. The destination might be a cloud-based repository (such as Dropbox Business), an on premise electronic content management (ECM) or a line of business application. By defining an authorized destination and automatically routing the scanned document to that location, the possibility of digital files getting lost or into the wrong hands is eliminated. 

What are Digital Document Workflows?

Digital document workflows are templates that are set up by an administrator and determine scan parameters, including the quality, name, format as well as the destination of the document. These automated workflows simplify and secure the scan process for the user, reducing it to a simple and accurate one click process, all carried out at the scanner or MFD (multifunctional device). The document is output into a usable file format so that it can be both edited and searched to enable quick and easy retrieval. In terms of security, individuals only see the workflows they are authorized to use, making it quick, simple and secure.

Further, workflows can be created for a particular user or groups of users; for example for all users responsible for scanning invoices. In this way, all users create and distribute scans in a consistent manner. Let’s look at a particular use case for automated scan workflows.

Scan and forget

Compared to scan to email, digital document workflows enable the user to scan and forget. The workflow is predefined and with one press of a button, the document is scanned, stored and, if needed, an email is sent to someone automatically alerting them of the document’s arrival. In this sense, the user simply scans and forgets about the details as they are taken care of automatically.

Contrast this to scan to email. At the scan device, the user has to decide whether the scan will be a pdf or a jpg typically and the scan settings have to be chosen by stepping through complicated and confusing menu systems. This is repeated for each scan. Then it is back to the workstation to check email for the scan’s arrival. Next, open email and save the document with a name that makes sense for her (but maybe not for anyone else) to the desktop or networked folder. This is repeated for each scan. In many cases, an email is sent to someone to let them know the scan is on a networked folder or the email itself contains the scan (email clogging). In any of these steps, there is room for human error.

There is little doubt that scan to email is an outdated, inefficient process that poses a high risk of human error. Scan workflows remove these issues. For any organization looking to improve efficiency through digitalization, replacing scan to email is essential.

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About the author:  

Wouter Koelewijn is Senior Vice President, Managing Director, Y Soft Scanning Division and an outspoken advocate for simplifying scanning on MFD's (Multifunction Devices). Prior to working with Y Soft, Mr. Koelewijn founded X-Solutions in late 2002 which was later acquired by Nuance in 2009. Prior to X-Solutions, Wouter was the CTO and co-founder of a Xerox concessionaire in the Netherlands from 1994-2002. Mr. Koelewijn is married and has two children. He enjoys skiing, swimming and sailing.  [email protected]

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Topics: privacy, business process, scanning, capture, security, Digital business, information security, information capture, gdpr

How I Learned to Love the Robot: Getting Started with Document Automation

Jun 2, 2017 1:00:00 PM by Thomas LaMonte

Management had a chat and the robots start next week: Do you…

  1. Fortify the office to defend against the Robot Uprising–You won’t go down without a fight, right?
  2. Repress your inner cave dweller, and find a way to leverage this new tool to more effectively manage digital documents throughout their lifecycle and delegate manual tasks?

If you chose A: Best of luck!

If you chose B: You are lightyears ahead of the people choosing A— feel good about that. You are also absolutely right:

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Topics: business process, automation

5 Ways to Improve Mortgage Banking with Automation

Dec 14, 2016 7:52:19 PM by John Mancini

The mortgage banking industry is plagued by time-consuming and error-prone, paper and labor-intensive processes, front-end systems that do not communicate efficiently with back-end systems, and third-parties that are often not integrated into the process electronically. These problems are exacerbated by the huge volume of loans that are generated each year (nearly 5 million new consumer mortgages alone). Content management is a key enabling technology in solving these problems.

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Topics: content management, business process, Banking, mortgage, mortgage banking

The Journey to Simpler Information Management Begins With Going Paperless

Nov 4, 2016 9:00:00 AM by John Mancini

In pursuit of the paperless enterprise it is often easy to lose our way. Projects stall, months pass and ROI is nowhere on the horizon, and all the while paper continues to rifle through our processes like stubborn weeds. Paper overwhelms the enterprise, and the difficult task to remove it all can cause a crisis of motivation.

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Topics: business process, world paper free day, wpfd, paperless

Applying Lean and Six Sigma Principles to Drive Digital Transformation

Oct 24, 2016 9:30:00 AM by John Mancini

Is "information chaos" in your core business process processes slowing your organization down? Making you less competitive? Frustrating your employees, suppliers, and customers?

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Topics: process automation, information management, business process, digital transformation,

A quiz -- Among these 20 processes, where are the key paperless digital transformation opportunities?

Oct 18, 2016 11:47:21 AM by Thomas LaMonte

Where are the key paperless digital transformation opportunities?

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Topics: invoice processing, business process, process improvement

Information overload: It affects MACHINES as well as people

Sep 19, 2016 3:01:31 PM by Paul Cleverley

This is a guest post by Paul Cleverley, a geoscientist and practitioner by background and is now an information scientist and researcher in the Department of Information Management with Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.

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Topics: enterprise content management, business process, enterprise search, machine learning

Learn About Process Automation at Local [email protected] Seminars

Aug 31, 2016 8:24:23 PM by John Mancini

In today's business world, customers expect organizations to be able to adjust, respond, and deliver products and services effectively, efficiently -- and on their schedules.

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Topics: business process, process improvement, automation

8 Things You Must Know to Automate Human Resource Processes

Aug 23, 2016 12:10:58 PM by John Mancini

It is the best of times and the worst of times for HR professionals.

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Topics: document management, business process, bpm, human resources

This Just In -- Charles Dickens (Really?) and 7 Key Data Points About SharePoint

Aug 2, 2016 9:50:32 AM by John Mancini


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”  (A Tale of Two Cities)

As I read through the results of our latest SharePoint survey, a kind of Dickensian déjà vu washes over me relative to surveys of past years.

Yes, SharePoint is ubiquitous in most large scale enterprises.  Yes, those pesky users, frustrated by usability and mobility issues, are still end-running the IT uber-lords and using consumer technologies to get their jobs done.  Yes, SharePoint sophistication varies widely, ranging from those still using it only for basic project file sharing (really? why would you do this?) to those running complicated and mission critical workflows upon it. Yes, folks are far too often still faking it when it comes to actually operationalizing those elegant governance policies in their SharePoint environment. And yes, enterprises at scale typically lag at least one – and often more than one – version behind the latest version.

It seems like I’ve written this post before.  I can anticipate the comments.

"AIIM, you aren’t critical enough about SharePoint!"

"AIIM, you are too critical about SharePoint!"

"We can’t wait to port everything to the cloud!"

"We can’t let anything go to cloud!"

"We love SharePoint!"

"We hate SharePoint!"

Oh, and BTW the comment from most organizations at scale, "We’re still committed to it."

I think this kind of bipolarity is what one should expect when you ask questions about a platform.  As I’ve said many times before, SharePoint has said from the start that it was a platform, not an application.  But far too often, when IT folks over the years said “platform, platform, platform” with regards to SharePoint, many of us on the business side heard “application, application, application.”

A couple of points to consider about platforms.

  1. Satisfaction with platforms depend a lot on what and how people build upon the platform. 
  2. Platforms are only optimized when organizations have the internal resources to support the platform and understand how to do so. 
  3. Platforms are optimized when the business realizes that purchasing the platform is just the beginning.  Third-party add-ons and expertise are critical to maximizing value.
  4. There is a significant knowledge gap at the enterprise level between usage of SharePoint (see below -- for 28%, it's their only or main ECM system) and understanding of where the platform is going (only 23% understand what SharePoint 2016 offers). This gap is a recipe for an unsatisfying project experience.

So check out all of the details in our new Industry Watch survey.  There’s some great stuff it in. 

Here are just 7 of my favorite data points:

  1. SharePoint is the only or main ECM/DM system for 28% of organizations. Thirteen percent see SharePoint as important for their overall ECM/DM environment.
  2. Eleven percent of organizations have reached a plateau in terms of SharePoint adoption. 22% say their SharePoint adoption is facing challenges from the user community.
  3. More than a quarter of respondents say they are still using SharePoint 2010 with 41% citing they are using SharePoint 2013 as their live primary version. At this time, only 2% say they are live with SharePoint 2016 and 19% with SharePoint Office 365.
  4. When it comes to the enhancements found in SharePoint 2016, 43% say they are somewhat aware of what SharePoint 2016 offers, while 29% indicate they have no awareness at all.
  5. Only 23% of respondents indicate they understand what SharePoint 2016 offers.
  6. Forty percent of organizations say their SharePoint implementation was not a success.  Inadequate user training (67%), hard to use (65%), and lack of senior management support (64%) are cited as reasons for SharePoint projects stalling or failing. 
  7. When looking at SharePoint as an ECM/DM solution, 43% prefer using their file-share application for everyday content. Looking at SharePoint from a process and enterprise connectivity perspective, 72% of organizations show no support for mobile device use.

Get the Executive Summary of the new SharePoint Industry Watch -- FREE.

The Impact of SharePoint 2016

 Also, check out my "5 Faces of Information Chaos" tip sheet.

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Topics: content management, ecm, sharepoint, business process

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