General Scanning

If you do not find your question listed or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Q. What is a “document”?
Q. What is document scanning?
Q. What is an electronic document?
Q. How would I access and use this electronic document?
Q. How are documents indexed?
Q. How much does it cost to convert paper files to digital images?
Q. Does MISL have the experience and appropriate procedures in place to make sure that they can meet my requirements?
Q. How will I know you can meet my quality expectations?
Q. Is a formal contract required?
Q. How do I get the documents to you?
Q. What happens if I need a document when you have it for scanning?
Q. What is document preparation?
Q. Why is scanning better than paper archiving?
Q. How will I find my files once scanned?
Q. What are the space savings?
Q. What are the main benefits of electronic document management?
Q. Can I edit or alter images?
Q. Can you scan large format documents?
Q. What about colour files or photographs?
Q. Can you scan landscape and portrait pages together in one batch?
Q. Can I view combinations of images, text and index fields side by side?
Q. Can I open and display more than one document at a time?
Q. How do I retrieve the document I want?
Q. Can I access information over the World Wide Web?
Q. Surely imaging is the same as microfilm?
Q. What is Backfile Conversion?
Q. What file format are the scanned pages?
Q. Do you OCR documents as well? Can you convert the scanned files in Microsoft Word® format? What is the accuracy? How much does OCR cost?
Q. Do you offer a searchable database of my documents?
Q. How do I make my documents “scan ready”?
Q. Is there a minimum number of pages that I need to send to you to have my documents scanned?
Q. How quickly can we get our documents converted to digital?
Q. Do you return the original documents?
Q. Can you upload the image files to our server?
Q. How many CD-ROMs do we need for our project?
Q. How can I access scanned information?
Q. Can you scan old or fragile documents?
Q. We need access to our files – they cannot go off-site!
Q. Can you scan documents full of staples, clips and bindings?


Q. What is a “document”?

A. A document can be from one to several thousand pages, and can include images and/or text, plus annotations, and one template (index card).


Q. What is document scanning?

A. Document scanning is the process of converting paper documents into electronic image format. These electronic images can then be indexed and stored in a document storage system which gives your users the ability to search through millions of documents for one page in a matter of seconds.


Q. What is an electronic document?

A. An electronic document is a digital picture of the original paper document. When a piece of paper is run through a scanner it makes an electronic image of the document, similar to a digital camera.


Q. How would I access and use this electronic document?

A. There are several possibilities for your use:

• You can read the document on your computers monitor.

• You can fax the documents using your computer’s fax-modem.

• With Internet access, you can email the document.

• Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, you can convert the document images into editable text for use with word processing and spreadsheet software. MSI can perform the OCR service for you and provide editable documents along with the document images.

• You can use your printer to print the entire document, or only the pages you need at that time.


Q. How are documents indexed?

A. Documents are indexed based upon customised search criteria set by you.
Scanned files can be indexed by client name, ref number, invoice number etc, as pre-defined by you.
Full Text indexing can be performed using an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) method. We can create a text file of your complete image. This allows the user to find any word (or part of a word ) that occurs in a document! In other words, using this technique you can search for document images by their content.


Q. How much does it cost to convert paper files to digital images?

A. Since there are several factors to be considered, we need to know more about your particular requirements. A brief discussion or e-mail exchange can produce cost pricing estimates. The factors considered in determining pricing include the type of documents. Human Resource, Accounts payable, legal case files, Engineering files, delivery notes, cheques, to mention a few, are all different and their costs per page will vary. If after a brief discussion, the costs seem to satisfy your objectives, we can confirm our estimates with some more extensive work on our part including a visit to the customer’s premises. We would ultimately provide you with sample images produced from a sampling of your files to further confirm our mutual understanding. We do not charge for the testing.


Q. Does MISL have the experience and appropriate procedures in place to make sure that they can meet my requirements?

A. MISL has been providing imaging services for business and public sector since 1981. We have an excellent reputation for quality work at affordable pricing across a broad range of both public and private sectors and have an impressive list of satisfied customers. When we know more about your particular requirements, we can match you with references that match your profile should you require them.


Q. How will I know you can meet my quality expectations?

A. Our job is to produce readable images that can be retrieved on demand. To produce high quality images at an affordable price, we must employ automation to the process. However, no two projects are alike. In some cases image quality can vary from image to image. All test images (and production images) are processed through our quality control procedures to be sure that “poor” images are re-scanned at a more appropriate setting.

There is no charge for the test and we send the images to you for your approval. Once that process is complete, you have a set of images that serves as a “benchmark” for the actual work performed.


Q. Is a formal contract required?

A. Our customers range from individuals that have as few as one file to projects consisting of millions of images. As a minimum requirement an agreed Statement of Work including our general Terms & Conditions will be provided. Larger projects are formalized by a contract.


Q. How do I get the documents to you?

A. We receive work from all over the country. We provide GPS tracked pickup and delivery and we also receive work via courier if required. If you do arrange to have us produce sample images, and wish to send them via a delivery or mail service, please let us know when to expect them. We track all shipments and will contact you when it arrives.


Q. What happens if I need a document when you have it for scanning?

A. If you need a document that is in our care for scanning, simply drop us an email or give us a call and we will find it, scan it (if not already scanned), and email it to you. If you need the original paper file back, we will get it to you using our own delivery vehicles – for both services the document is guaranteed back on your desk within 24hrs.


Q. What is document preparation?

A. Document preparation is the first stage of the document storage process and forms a key part of it. Many documents need to be sorted into a scanning sequence; sometimes files need to be reversed or missing pages identified. In addition, all staples must be removed and pages made secure for scanning. All scanning, except for large plans or specialist book scanning, is undertaken on high speed scanners, which can be auto and sheet fed. In order to go through the scanner without damaging the documents, all staples, paperclips, sticky notes, torn edges, and so on must be removed and repaired.


Q. Why is scanning better than paper archiving?

A. When you store a document, you are paying for that document day in day out for the life of it (6 years plus current for accounts documents for example). With scanning, it is a one-off cost. Bear in mind also that opening the drawers of a single four drawer filing cabinet requires around 10 sq foot of floor space, so that, at a conservative cost of  50/sqft/annum for floor space overheads, you will be spending about £500/cabinet per year. How many cabinets have you got occupying floor space that could be put to more cost effective use? Using off site archive storage still costs and has the added disadvantage and cost of having to get the documents back when you need them.  Also you still have the potential problem of lost files or pages during the transit period and the nightmare scenario of complete destruction by fire or water in even the most controlled of storage environments.

In addition to space saving, with scanning you also get:

•    Fast Access to files from your desktop

•    Increased efficiency and effectiveness

•    Easy to share documents

•    Better control

•    And most importantly, in-built disaster recovery.


Q. How will I find my files once scanned?

A. Your paperwork is scanned and indexed in the way you ask us to do it. You may have specified invoice numbers and dates, or file names and numbers – whatever your original criteria, that is how you can find the images. If you already have a document management solution, we will provide a utility to import the data into your system. If not, we supply our own Document Management Software called Webview which can be used as a stand-alone system, with images stored on our secure servers for multiuser access. Webview can be scaled from single user to a full corporate system.


Q. What are the space savings?

A. A single CD will hold in the region of 15-20,000 images, which equates to approximately two four drawer cabinets.


Q. What are the main benefits of electronic document management?

A. Amongst other things:

•    Space saving

•    Fast Access to files from your desktop

•    Increased efficiency and effectiveness

•    Easy to share documents

•    Better control

•    And most importantly, in-built disaster recovery.


Q. Can I edit or alter images?

A. An imaging system should not provide any facility for editing or altering images. This is important as many users consider that images should be sacrosanct and that any changes would undermine the integrity of the system. In addition, the system should provide an audit trail function to keep track of which users have accessed which documents at what times.


Q. Can you scan large format documents?

A. Yes. We can scan any size of document from a stamp to A0 size.


Q. What about colour files or photographs?

A. We scan in black & white, greyscale and in colour as per your requirements. Coloured text and drawing can usually be happily handled by the scanners and red writing on red card is no problem at all. As long as there is a clear definition between the foreground and background, scanning will be successful. File sizes will be much larger than black and white, which will affect storage cost and transmission times. Compression technology can be employed to reduce file sizes.


Q. Can you scan landscape and portrait pages together in one batch?

A. Yes. We are able to scan and index according to the files you supply us in any mixture of size and page orientation.


Q. Can I view combinations of images, text and index fields side by side?

A: Yes. To allow convenient access to document information, a well-designed imaging system will allow the view screen to be configured to show the text, images, template index fields or thumbnail images.


Q. Can I open and display more than one document at a time?

A: Yes. Some imaging systems will allow you to display multiple documents, with the number of documents you can have open simultaneously limited only by the amount of memory available.


Q. How do I retrieve the document I want?

A: When the documents are captured, they must be indexed on the system. Indexing involves entering data onto an index page within the database, with references unique to the specific documents, i.e. an Insurance policy holders name, their post code, the policy number, the policy type and the issued date. Future retrievals could then be via any or a combination of these fields. The types of searches which may be performed include search by form and full-text retrieval. The later allows every word associated to the document (without quantity or length restrictions) to be used as a search key.


Q. Can I access information over the World Wide Web?

A: Yes. Documents scanned can be held in our secure digital repository, giving the security of off-site storage and viewed using our Webview remote system. All the communications are carried out using the same secure server technology that many banks use for on-line transactions, ensuring that all confidential information is transmitted in an encrypted form. Each document type can be protected with further levels of passwords.


Q. Surely imaging is the same as microfilm?

A: Not really, imaging is easier to use and does not require the chemical processes of microfilm. In addition, imaging can produce far better reproductions of the original documents. Most importantly, digital document images can be transported around an organization very quickly over a local or wide area network. Even the fax can be integrated into the system. Added to this is the enhanced security of limited access rights and date recording, available with optical storage systems.


Q. What is Backfile Conversion?

A: The process of scanning, indexing, and storing a large backlog of paper or film documents in preparation of moving to a paper-less office or document system.


Q. What file format are the scanned pages?

A. MISL offers many file formats, but as a default format we recommend black and white TIFF or .pdf for most document storage applications due to its wide support by software developers, small file size, and ability to store multi page documents in one file. Other image formats are available for full colour or special applications, subject to a higher cost per image, additional processing time, and in some cases, royalty fees. If you require a special format, please ask.


Q. Do you OCR documents as well? Can you convert the scanned files in Microsoft Word® format? What is the accuracy? How much does OCR cost?

A. MISL does offer conversion of paper documents to editable file formats such as word processing files, commonly called OCR or Optical Character Recognition. Accuracy is entirely dependent on the quality of the original. Claims by OCR software vendors for uncorrected documents are 99.7% accuracy with a high-quality original but expect average of 95-99% based on our industry experience. A document produced by a laser printer or printing press with standard fonts on white paper is considered a high-quality original. Photocopies, low-resolution printouts, documents with non-standard fonts such as script, and documents with poor contrast due to similar colours of paper and ink, are all considered low-quality for the purposes of OCR and will probably require extensive manual processing to improve accuracy.

MISL will perform one-pass processing on most OCR jobs using state-of-the-art software with multiple OCR engines. One-pass means that there is no correction of the document by our company. You would then take your file and use tools such as spell check to find any errors it may have, and adjust formatting for your printer or other final output.


Q. Do you offer a searchable database of my documents?

A. A searchable database can be supplied. The creation of a searchable database of document content is also called “indexing”. There are many types, and therefore costs and effectiveness vary greatly. MISL can output your images and data in many different formats, some of which are listed above.


Q. How do I make my documents “scan ready”?

A. “Scan ready” means all the staples and other paper fasteners have been removed from the files and the pages are not excessively wrinkled, torn or otherwise damaged. The pages are all oriented the same way (i.e.: all tops up) and facing the same way (if single-sided). If the pages are of odd or mixed size, charges may apply for extra processing.

The files should also be separated and labelled in a way that is logical to how you would store and access them normally. We will assign a file name based on the label on the physical folder, unless some other naming scheme has been planned. Each electronic file should contain no more than 100 images because of the limits of many computers’ RAM prevents viewing of larger files. If a particular physical file is more than 100 pages, it will span more than one electronic file. Extra charges may also apply if there are more than 2 unique file names for each 100 pages if we are required to manually assign file names, and this requirement also applies to extra directory levels.

If you wish, MISL offer a scan prepping service at an additional cost.


Q. Is there a minimum number of pages that I need to send to you to have my documents scanned?

A. There is no minimum number of pages; however MISL does have a minimum charge. Contact our sales staff for a list of charges.


Q. How quickly can we get our documents converted to digital?

A. Turnaround time depends on the volume of documents, the level of service requested, advanced notice, the condition of the paper files, and our current job queue. In all cases it is best to make contact with an MISL representative if you have a time constraint.


Q. Do you return the original documents?

A. By default MISL returns your paper documents. All transportation costs are paid for by the customer. If you need to dispose of the originals, MISL offers a secure document service.


Q. Can you upload the image files to our server?

A. Yes, we can, but the time to do so might not be as time or cost-effective, or secure, as waiting for the CD/USB/Encrypted Hard Drive for on-site copying to the server by your in-house or contracted technician who already knows your network system. The CD/USB/Encrypted Hard Drive is also your backup copy in case of hard drive failure or other disaster. We also offer private FTP downloads of your data. If you need special handling of your image files, we will be happy to discuss your needs.


Q. How many CD-ROMs do we need for our project?

A.


Q. How can I access scanned information?

A.


Q. Can you scan old or fragile documents?

A. Using flat-bed scanners, greyscale and colour scanning, even the most delicate or poor quality documents can translate into good electronic images


Q. We need access to our files – they cannot go off-site!

A. This does not necessarily mean that scanning needs to be done onsite. Our quality control process ensures that we can retrieve and return a document to you within minutes of the request. Alternatively, we can scan overnight or on weekends to ensure data is not out of your office during normal business hours. For larger projects on-site scanning is available.


Q. Can you scan documents full of staples, clips and bindings?

A. Yes, by removing the staples etc. as part of our preparation process. Documents are usually “Deprepped” after scanning to replace clips, staples etc. so they can be returned to our client exactly as they arrived.

General FAQs