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Help choosing a scanner

Posted on 2011-09-22
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Last Modified: 2013-12-27
Hello,
I am really lost here... I need to choose a scanner for my office, but i dont really know anything about specifications, whether they are good or bad... I basically need to scan documents like old bills, and some other financial documents to have a digital copy and clear the space...
The problem is, there are a LOT of papers, and we cant afford to keep manually scanning one by one...

I was in a meeting with this guy and he told me his product could automatically scan the papers I put in (both pages) and it could use something like OCR to detect what kind of document it is and put it into a specific folder to organize the documents. I was really skeptical about this, but i thought it was a great ideia... But then I took a look into DMS (document management system) and I think that may be the solution we need.

Can you explain to me what exactly can DMS do?? Is it just to organize the digital paperwork and make it easier to find them?? How hard is it to integrate it with a scanner??

And at last: what combination of DMS and scanner would you recommend??


Thanks in advance.
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Question by:MelissaCG
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Expert Comment

by:khairil
ID: 36582610
Hi,

DMS consist a lot of feature to manage your documents. From scanning, audit, versioning, storing your files and many other. Some of them have build in access control, so that only certain people can access the document. It is a sub of Enterprise Content Management (ECM). You can google more for the features. You can read here http://www.aiim.org/What-is-Document-Management and http://www.aiim.org/What-is-ECM-Enterprise-Content-Management for more information.

DMS particularly expensive and used by big organization. It is not just the hardware, DMS is combination of the software to manage it and hardware to gather input.

OCR is great feature if you like to extract words out of the documents so that you can reduce typing. You can have OCR later, most scanner already come with OCR software. Right now, scanning your docs is much more important.

Other important thing you should look:
- Page per second
- Support on photos
- Duty cycle
- Interface connection USB/Internet
- Duplex support
- Storage
- Automatic document feeder.

So, it is depend own your company's pocket - better with expensive or just enough?
Here is a medium good scanner is you like, http://www.xeroxscanners.com/en/us/products/item.asp?PN=DM3640 it is worth to include Kofak VRS for additional 200 bucks.

There are sanner from other vendor as well, like HP, this one consider for small office, http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06a/15179-15179-64195-15202-3445110-4288178.html

Choose wisely within you budget.
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 36582633
Hi Melissa,

> Can you explain to me what exactly can DMS do??

Depends on the DMS. The Wikipedia article on the subject is not a bad place to start your education:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Document_management_system

> Is it just to organize the digital paperwork and make it easier to find them??

It *is* that, but can be a lot more.

> How hard is it to integrate it with a scanner??

Generally, not hard at all. The DMS (even low-end ones) will do it automatically.

> And at last: what combination of DMS and scanner would you recommend??

Need to know more about your requirements before making any recommendations. Some questions:

(1) How many "old" pages do you have? In the DMS business, we call this "backfile conversion" and it is often painful to do yourself or costly to outsource, and rarely as successful as we would like. The DMS vendors will tell you to drop a manilla folder's worth of paper in the scanner's ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) and, voilà, you're done. It is never that easy.

(2) How many pages will you have on an ongoing/go-forward basis?

(3) Do you have a lot of two-sided docs? If so, you'll want a duplex scanner. If most are one-sided docs, then a simplex scanner will be fine.

(4) Do you have many color docs or are nearly all of them black & white?

(5) Are most docs letter size? Any small/odd-size docs? Or large ones? Any legal size?

(6) How many users need to retrieve docs?

(7) What is your budget? Many high-end DMS companies have solutions with costs in the half-million dollar range (around a quarter-million dollars in software licenses and a quarter-million dollars in professional services to implement and configure the solution to each customer's requirements). I worked for a company where many deals were more than a million dollars. At the other end of the spectrum, I use a product called PaperPort on the home-office front that some folks would call a DMS (I don't) with a street price of $99 per user (including built-in OCR). And there's lots of stuff between those two figures – and even below and above those figures.

Regards, Joe
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Expert Comment

by:khairil
ID: 36582680
Depend on your need (and money). Xerox have few software for it, http://www.office.xerox.com/software-solutions/enus.html

Find which one suite you and get reseller to explain more to you.

Here is some more list of DMS software you might interested, http://www.hci.com.au/hcisite3/journal/List%20of%20document%20management%20software.htm
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Author Comment

by:MelissaCG
ID: 36583039
Hi, this is a small office, so i wont need a 100 page per minute scanner... 20ppm is more than enought alerady... The most important detail we are worried is the classification part. Once the document is scanned and sent to the software, how does it know where to save it, or how to classify it?? For example, if I have some eletric bills, would it be in the same folder as the staff expenses?? Is OCR included in this part??

And I'm from Brasil, so will OCR work correctly here, as there are a lot of signs and special characters??

I'm doing a little research and I think it all adds up, I'm just worried about this classification part and how functional it really is...
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Accepted Solution

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Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 36583219
Melissa,

Lower-end solutions for a small office won't know where to store it. A common technique is that when you do the scanning, you do it with the scanning software in the folder where you want the document to go. Of course, it's not a big problem to move it wherever you want later on – it's simply a PDF file.

What you would do is develop a folder structure to store your files. For example:

Staff Expenses
  Adenor
  Melissa
  Pablo

Utility Bills
  Electric
  Gas
  Phone
  Water

A DMS is bundled with many scanners and OCR is often included in the DMS. Yes, it will work in Brasil, as long as you get the correct language version and make sure that the OCR in the DMS supports Portuguese.

There are many scanners in the 20ppm range. The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 is reasonably priced and consistenly gets excellent reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/Fujitsu-ScanSnap-Instant-Sheet-Fed-Scanner/dp/B001V9LQH0/

It has a 50-page Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), built-in OCR that automatically creates searchable PDF files, and comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat 9 Standard, as well as other good quality software, including one of the best OCR packages, ABBYY FineReader, which supports Portuguese:

http://www.abbyy.com/Default.aspx?DN=188d56c0-e2e5-4fcb-aab7-bc2267522527

There are plenty of choices out there, but based on what you described, I think this will work for you. Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

by:MelissaCG
ID: 36588304
Damn, my boss wants some options... I cant find a list of "TOP 10 scanners" like I do with notebooks for example... Can you guys help me find some scanners that has 20ppm, duplex and supports OCR in Portuguese-BR??

Sorry, but i really suck in this area... I cant even find good reviews =/
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Author Comment

by:MelissaCG
ID: 36588382
Well, I guess thats not fair, it was a good explanation about the things i asked... I'll just give you the points and open another question ;)

Thanks a lot!!
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 36588446
Melissa,
If you google "scanner reviews" you'll find lots of stuff. Here's just one example (there are plenty out there):
http://www.consumersearch.com/scanner-reviews
(This one contains the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 that I recommended earlier.)

But the problem is that there are scanners for less than a hundred dollars and ones for more than $100,000. There are ones with just flatbeds, ones with just ADFs, and ones with both. So you need to be careful about not comparing apples to oranges. In your case, it is complicated by needing Portuguese support, but the good news is that top packages support it. I already mentioned ABBYY FineReader to you. Another excellent one that supports Portuguese is Nuance's OmniPage:
http://nuance.com/for-business/by-product/omnipage/index.htm

Note that the OmniPage SDK is utilized for OCR by Nuance's PaperPort, which I mentioned in a previous post:
http://nuance.com/for-business/by-product/paperport/index.htm

So if you buy a Portuguese version of PaperPort (which often comes bundled with scanners) it should have a Portuguese version of the OmniPage SDK in it. Keep in mind that you must get Version 12 or 14 (there was no 13) of PaperPort in order to be able to create PDF Searchable Image files (containing both an image and the OCR'ed text in the PDF file) without the need for the full version of OmniPage. Regards, Joe
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