Scan Back-file records

I Thought Back-file Scanning Opportunities Would Be Dead By Now

Back in the mid-80’s to early-90’s document imaging was a technology being utilized mostly by banking institutions. By the mid-90’s it was spreading across the corporate world as a means to get quicker access to documents, when needed. However, it was really taking off in medium-sized businesses, as they tried to get a handle on better management of their corporate records. When I entered the industry in 1994, I had often heard that the opportunity for scanning companies had a small window of only five years! HA! That same five-year “window” comment is still around —24 years later!

It’s a comment I heard often, and may have even wondered about. However, from 1996 to 2014, I operated a pretty busy scanning bureau, which showed no signs of slowing down. During those years we scanned millions of pages of documents across all industries: financial, manufacturing, medical, mental health, pain management, city government, utilities, retail, to name a few. We scanned their records for many reasons; from them wanting to meet compliance mandates, to saving space, to becoming paperless and fully utilizing their document management systems.

Why then, is that comment still around? It’s a little short-sighted I have to say. I suppose if companies didn’t grow, expand, merge or acquire other companies, and if no new companies started — ever — then that might be a reasonable statement. And, what about the fact that companies still print? Even those same companies that have scanned all or much of their legacy files, are perhaps still printing and filling up those cabinets again. I would hope not, but I’ve seen everything!

Take a look at the many record storage companies that are around, they are still in business for a reason. How about all the printer and multi-function device manufacturer’s, like: Xerox, Ricoh, HP, Konica-Minolta, and others. They are billion dollar companies and yes, they do sell other products and services besides multi-function devices, but what do their salespeople push? MFD’s! I run in the same circles as these companies and they flip leases more than anything. Why? Because they sell and make money. Why? Because people like to print!

While those are valid points, I will tell you what I am noticing. First, let me preface that by explaining this: For ten years I have been consulting and training new scanning business startups. I have helped quite a few existing companies generate additional revenue by offering scanning services to their clients, I’ve also had the privilege of helping many non-profit agencies create scanning divisions and (my favorite is…) I’ve helped countless entrepreneurs begin their new venture. While not all of them have been successful (that is another article I’ll have to write), there are many that are. For those that are actively trying, they are finding scanning work — and lots of it!

Being a training company I have had the opportunity to speak with many people across all industries! I also must state that I have been in this industry for a long time. There have been some fantastic discussions on this subject. I believe there are still trillions of pages out there waiting to be scanned. You would think the government has scanned all of their records by now, but nope, they haven’t! I have seen a steady stream of RFP’s out for bid and they keep coming. And, the corporate world is no different. I have been surprised at some of the names of large corporations that still haven’t scanned their legacy files.

A large non-profit agency that I have been consulting with for one year and a half has already scanned well over a million pages and is on track to scan at least that in a few short months again. They are currently bidding on a project requiring several millions of pages to be scanned. A few other clients are in the process of scanning several decent sized projects. In the course of my daily business, while consulting with my clients, I become privy to this type of information and as a result have observed that there is still quite a bit of scanning left to do.

Scanning is still a hot necessity evident by the amount of work and current bids coming down the pike. The work is there, you just have to find it. Is the “window of opportunity” a five-year one? I certainly don’t think so!

April M Aulick, CDIA+, a consultant & trainer for the ECM Industry, has over 24 years experience with content management technology. She can be reached at [first.lastname]at or by calling 508-314-7098.