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Document digitization: steps to follow and best practices

Learn how document digitization drives business efficiency. Check out this guide with essential steps, key benefits and best practices to optimize your information management and transform your workflow.
Picture of Manuel Aguirre

Manuel Aguirre

In today’s digital business ecosystem, the efficient management of physical documents has become essential. Document digitization is not simply converting files into digital format through a scanner; it is a comprehensive strategy to optimize information management. Below, we explore in depth what this process consists of, its benefits and the best practices for a successful implementation.

What is document digitalization?

Document digitization is more than the simple conversion of an analog environment, in this case paper, to a digital format. It involves the creation of electronic versions that facilitate management, search, storage and long-term preservation. Before going into the steps and best practices, it is crucial to understand this fundamental distinction.

Document digitization processes

Document digitization is a strategic tool for upgrading the efficiency and accessibility of information in companies. Below is a detailed breakdown of each phase of this key process:

1.Preliminary analysis: identification and prioritization

Before starting, an analysis of the physical documents is recommended. Identify the types of documents, their importance and prioritize them according to need and frequency of use. This provides a solid basis for the digitization process.

2. Preparation of physical documents

The next step is to organize the physical documents in an orderly manner. Remove paper clips, staples or other unnecessary items that could hinder scanning. Make sure that the documents are in good condition to ensure optimal results during digitization.

In archival science, there are models for organizing documents that can be implemented through filing systems or classification tables. These systems can be organized according to an order:

  • Alphabetical: it orders documents according to their name.

  • Chronological: classification based on dates, sometimes by the processing of the document file.

  • By subject or category: groups related documents and classifies them by subject.
    Numbers or codes: unique identification for each document.

  • Geographic or Location: organized by physical location.

  • By Projects: groups documents by specific projects.

  • Tags: flexible categorization by tags.

  • By Priority: classifies documents according to their importance.

  • Digital Management System (DMS): advanced management of digital documents.

  • By frequent access: prioritizes regularly used documents.

3. Scanning Preparation and Quality Preservation

  • Selection of the right scanner:

It is necessary to choose a scanner that fits the needs of the organization. For small volumes, a flatbed scanner may be sufficient, but for large quantities, an automatic feed scanner is more efficient.

  • Scanner settings:

Scanner settings need to be adjusted according to the type of documents. Define the appropriate resolution to ensure optimum quality without generating files that are too large. In addition, select the desired output format (PDF, JPEG, etc.).

  • Organization of the scanning area:

It is recommended to keep the scanning area tidy and free of distractions. And make sure there is sufficient lighting to obtain clear and sharp results.

  • Positioning of documents:

Documents should be placed in the scanner in an aligned and centered manner. Making sure they are completely flat and do not overlap to avoid potential scanning problems.

  • Initial Scan Test:

It is also advisable to perform an initial test to verify quality and settings. And, thus, adjust any necessary parameters before proceeding with the mass scan.

4. Document scanning:

This phase of the document digitalization process is key. For everything to work correctly, it is advisable to make sure to follow a logical order when starting the scanning process. If you are using an automatic scanner, it is advisable to load the documents in an orderly fashion to avoid jams.

  • OCR application (Optical Character Recognition)

There are scanner capture software that have the functionality to apply OCR to convert text images into editable characters. This facilitates the search and editing of content in digitized documents, upgrading the efficiency of information handling. The aforementioned processes can also be carried out when loading scanned documentation into document managers with document capture functionality. In this case, the document manager applies OCR to the document, thus facilitating text extraction and upgrading information accessibility.

  • Quality and legibility verification

     

It is advisable to perform a thorough quality check of the digitized documents. And make sure that the information is legible and that no crucial details have been lost during the scanning and conversion process.

  • Secure and efficient digital storage

The next step is to select a secure digital storage system, preferably using ECM platforms such as Athento. This ensures that documents are organized logically and securely, allowing quick and efficient access.

  • Indexing and categorization for easy searching

Indexing and categorizing digitized documents is a practice that upgrades the efficient search and retrieval of information, reducing the time spent locating specific documents.

  • Implementation of protection measures and regular backup

It is necessary to establish security measures to protect the integrity of digital documents. In addition, implement a regular backup system to prevent the loss of critical data due to possible technical failures or unforeseen situations.

  • Integration with ECM Platforms for centralized management

Integrating digitized documents with ECM platforms for centralized and collaborative management facilitates effective monitoring, tracking and organization of information at the enterprise level.

Benefits of document digitalization

Document digitization brings numerous benefits that positively impact the efficiency and productivity of organizations. Here are some key aspects:

  • Instant access: digital documents are easily accessible, allowing quick searches and instant retrieval of relevant information.
  • Physical space savings: eliminates the need for large physical files, freeing up space and reducing costs associated with physical storage.
  • Efficient collaboration: facilitates remote collaboration by enabling real-time document sharing and editing, improving the efficiency of work teams.
  • Enhanced security: security measures, such as encryption and access control, can be implemented to protect sensitive documents and ensure information integrity.
  • Backup and recovery: document scanning allows for the creation of automatic backup copies, ensuring document recovery in the event of loss or disaster.
  • Regulatory compliance: facilitates compliance with regulations and standards by providing a more accurate and structured tracking of document management.
  • Environmental sustainability: reduces dependence on paper, contributing to more sustainable practices and reducing environmental impact.

Document digitization is not only a technical process; it is a comprehensive strategy to optimize information management in the digital era.

If you are starting a document digitization process in your organization, we also recommend you to follow our best practices for document digitization, where we show you what to take into account to ensure the best possible results in terms of data extraction and OCR.

Your organization can transform its processes by working with a platform like Athento, contact us, we will guide you to manage your documents in a centralized and secure way and model agile and powerful business processes!