Are we making the right choice in choosing low cost digitization?

Allow me to explain…When was the last time you used film based traditional camera to click photographs? Do you remember the effort you needed to put to utilize those 36 frames efficiently?

Thanks to the introduction of digital cameras, now we are free to click as many pictures we want and select the best. Introduction of digital technology has brought numerous features which we seldom use. Just think – have you ever used all the features of a digital camera to get the best picture, or you simply set it on auto mode and enjoy the photography? I am sure the most used feature of digital photography is “Auto Shoot Mode”. So why do digital cameras have so many features? Have you ever thought why superstars/models look great on posters? Do you think that all of them are actually so perfect looking? It’s all about photography skills. Why can’t we achieve that quality with the photos we shoot? Just ask any professional photographer to share some tricks and look for the wonders.

If automatic mode on digital camera could give you the best results, then every school kid could be a professional photographer. But that’s not true. I have visited many organizations and customers looking for automation and digitization of huge amount of important documents, but they are rarely concerned about the quality of the scanned output; their understanding is that if a paper comes out of the scanner then that’s it, scanning is done. If you give them a digital camera they will put all efforts to get a professional photograph but when it comes to digitization of critical/important documents that drive their businesses, they behave like a school kids wanting to get professional scanning through automatic mode. That’s how low cost digitization vendors earn their profits.

Most of the organizations are more concerned about the Document Management Software over scanning quality, but if you logically think then you will realize that cost of software is about 25% of the total cost of the digitization project. So isn’t it necessary to emphasize on the digitization process and quality rather than just Document Management Software. Just imagine what will happen if you retrieve a scanned image using best Document Management Software and find it to be a poor quality image, which is of no use. In this case even the best Document Management Software will fail to suffice your requirements. With our research we have found that the cost variation between low quality digitization and ideal digitization is very low – only about 10%. But, to save 10% of the initial cost organizations generally take risk on the rest 90% of the project cost. We came across various large organizations (not ethical to name them) that spent in rescanning of documents three to four times the money they saved with low cost digitization.

Today, the actual cost of resources is easily verifiable in the market. When manpower, computers, scanners, etc. cost the same for every digitization vendor then how come certain vendors are able to offer low cost for digitization? It is not efficiency but the shortcuts they follow, like auto mode of scanning of different kinds of documents, selective quality checks, loose inventory reconciliation, human errors, etc. One thing I am not able to understand is that how come selective quality checks ensure accuracy of large volume digitization? It is also well known that unskilled manpower (specially batching, scanning, quality check operators) lack the technical expertise to handle such tasks. A qualified operator will not perform such a low category unskilled laborious job. I also do not understand how they control huge teams of 100 to 200 operators working on digitization floor independently. There are more than 50 digitization settings which ensure good quality scanning, such as image name, orientation, brightness, contrast, darkness, skew, resolution, color depth, readability, torn edges/corners, black edges, file size, streaks, image margin, punch marks, image dimension, compression etc. We cannot expect an operator to manually take care of all these scanning parameters and that too for huge volumes of documents.

That is the reason why cost of digitization is high with for vendors who specialize in digitization. They use proven software like production control management system (to control large teams of unskilled operators through software) and Document Quality Analyzer to ensure 100% desired quality through 100% software based scrutiny. At last I suggest it is wise to invest 10% more cost on digitization to protect 90% of the project cost and join the league of successful organizations, as it is not possible to get Mercedes Benz for the cost of TATA Nano unless you get it in lottery.