When does Scanner Rental make sense for digitisation projects

Rent, Buy or Bureau? – these are the three choices that often face organisations about to tackle a major project to digitise paper-based archives. Mike Kirkby, CEO of Australia’s EzeScan, is finding that for a particular segment of the market, scanner rental is really adding up as the common-sense solution.

“There's a place for Bureau scanning, typically where organisations have large archives they want to digitise and resourcing the project internally is not feasible. Additionally, the archive may contain documents with low security issues or no security issues and there is little or no impact on the business if the documents are not accessible within the business for an extended period of time.”

“However, for many of our customers, the value of their documents and more specifically the need for high quality metadata is the reason they elect to do the scanning themselves. Getting decent information off the document usually means that you need to have some understanding of context of the document, or what that document means to the organisation. Typically, a scanner data operator in a scanning bureau is not going to have that sense of context.”

“Some documents may be of higher value and historical importance, such that if they were lost or damaged, even though they've been digitised, the loss or damage could cause an issue from a records management perspective. There may simply be too much risk in sending those out to a Bureau to be digitised.”

“A major requirement for many of our customers is, ‘Can you upload the scanned documents directly into my document management system?’ Most scanning bureaus don't offer that, they’ll only give you a file transfer of all the documents they've scanned and any metadata that you have asked them to collect for those documents. The customer is then faced with performing some sort of bulk import to get these documents placed into their systems in the right place.”

“Our model is different to that. We supply the scanner. We install EzeScan either onto their PCs or onto our rental PCs. We configure it to directly talk to their back-end systems, either a tier 1 EDRM system or an entry level system like Google Drive or Dropbox, then we push those documents automatically into those systems in real-time, so the customer gets a sense of progress as they go. They can see that they're not only scanning, but their documents are starting to appear in their business as they go, and they've got full control over the document security.”

EzeScan offers new or used scanners for rental for the term of a digitisation project, including the necessary EzeScan software.

Most of the short-term projects that end up deciding on the rental option fit into a particular profile, usually involving between 10,000 to 1,000,000 documents, and are undertaken over a 12-to-18-month period.

“Digital transformation initiatives have drastically reduced the amount of paper records being generated, but we often find people are coming to us and saying, we've got 10 years’ worth of stuff in boxes,” said Kirkby.

“People have realised that moving documents around electronically is a lot more efficient than moving documents around in a paper format, since paper documents obviously can't be easily shared.

“They realise that by scanning paper-based documents and making them digitally accessible to their staff regardless of where they are working, can drive improvements in operational efficiency and customer satisfaction within their organisation. Not only can they access information faster, but they can also leverage the ability to move the document around electronically and to take advantage of more highly automated workflow processes.

“The imaging part of digitisation is a small component now. It's more to do with, what you are doing with the information that is the driver? How are you getting the value from that document in your organisation and how can companies like ourselves assist with that.

“Many of our customers tell us that they don't want to over-invest in this process and end up with equipment or software left at the end of it that is not going to be used, but they might still be paying for.”

“When people are considering short term rentals, what they're really looking for is a cost-effective solution to their problem that allows them to get the scanning done in a timeframe that is manageable and suitable for them.”

“Low mileage refurbished scanners are one way that helps to lower the cost of short-term rentals. Typically, a refurbished scanner has scanned less pages than 30 days’ worth of its recommended daily limit. So, they're still in excellent condition, ideal for customers to re-use. Each scanner is thoroughly cleaned, comprehensively tested, then repackaged with cleaning consumables into a sturdy box along with a copy of our EzeScan software. The scanner can be shipped to a customer at short notice upon receipt of an order.”

“We also still have some customers that want to rent for the long term and generally want a new machine with manufacturer warranty and we can also do that as well for them,” said Kirkby.

While the typical rental project will require one or more scanners, many organisations also need to rent PC’s, as their existing computers are not up to spec or procuring and configuring new PC’s can be difficult.

“Nowadays, many organisations are not only moving their Server infrastructure to Cloud but they’re also not buying PC’s, driven by the growing trend towards bring your own devices (BYOD) like smart phones, tablets, and notebooks. There's a real transition away from owning hardware that you can really run imaging software on in the on-premise environment,” said Kirkby.

The final piece to the puzzle, is our expertise. Not only do we ship the scanner and the software, but we help to configure it to suit the specific requirements of each customer scanning project. We train their operators and provide ongoing support during the project. If for any reason there is a problem with scanner during the project, we sort out getting the equipment repaired or replaced, eliminating warranty hassles and other delays. When the job is complete, we simply arrange to collect the equipment.