Distributed scanning and capture provides employees the ability to scan or capture information from individual stations and file the documents in a shared folder or into a central location. The documents are captured and indexed at the source, generally by the department or workgroup that created them and where the workflow is initiated. Distributed capture is becoming more prevalent as companies are increasingly deploying teams in offices spread across geographic locations.
With centralized document capture, documents are forwarded to a single scanning location, which is managed by a dedicated processing staff. Centralized capture requires the documents to be shipped or delivered to a location for processing. Centralized capture may be more appropriate in some cases where a data capture and classification strategy is the focus.
Distributed scanning and capture provides companies the benefit of leveraging lower cost scanning hardware; i.e. desktop scanners, multi-function devices, FAX and smartphones that employees can use locally. Using web-based thin client technology for your capture application eliminates the need to install the software on each individual workstation, making deployment and maintenance faster and more efficient. The server does the heavy lifting, not the client. Workers can capture documents and information from any location and participate in business processes.
Workflow can be easily initiated at the beginning of the process, supporting scan to process rather than scan to archive. The most efficient way to use information is to get it into your main system at the time it is created or received. Metadata, or information about the document is recorded through a few simple steps at the time of scanning. If captured later in the process, many people across your organization will have photocopied, faxed, emailed, sorted, filed and re-filed, the document, creating massive amounts of unnecessary work, expense and wasted resources.
Whether your scanning operations are centralized, distributed or a combination of both, there is no question that eliminating paper results in more efficient operations. According to an AIIM survey, (2009, Find, Control and Optimize Your Information) the largest benefits of scanning and capture are improved findability of business documents (knowledge management), records security and accessibility (compliance), improved speed of access (customer service), reduced physical storage space (office costs), and reduction of paper and copying (environmental).