Imaging Topics

Imaging Topics

Using A Service Bureau Can Cut Your Up-Front Costs

How to choose a Service Bureau

  • The average office spends $20 in labor filing or retrieving a document. $120 in labor is spent finding a misfiled document. $250 in labor is spent recreating a lost document!
    7.5% of all documents get lost, 3% of the remainder get misfiled.
  • There are over 4 trillion paper documents in the U.S. alone – grow at a rate of 22% per year!
  • The average business document is copied 19 times – Over 81 billion sheets of paper are copied each month!
  • “U.S. Banks have over 16 billion paper documents on file, growing at a rate of 4% per year – 80% of the documents are suitable for imaging”
  • Over $5 billion each year is wasted on printed materials that become obsolete before they are every used!
  • For every 10 printed pages, only 1 is ever consulted.
  • Only 10% of Corporate information lies in structured databases. The remaining 90% – often critical to business processes – lies unmanaged in chaotic file system structures.
  • Professionals send 5% to 15% of their time reading information, but up to 50% looking for it.
    *sources:Coopers & Lybrand, PC Magazine, AIIM, Imaging Magazine

Using A Service Bureau Can Cut Your Up Front-Costs

Service bureaus have always been useful when you had a huge amount of data that needed to be converted. Now some of then are trying to make themselves even more useful by getting involved with your data before it’s created! This can save some money.

Here’s some things they can do before you create data: Form design. Creating a well designed form is complex. By putting the data in places where it can be more easily scanned or keyed, you can reduce your scanning and data input costs. Choose colors. It’s no secret that certain colors scan better than others. Putting dark colors in areas that need to be scanned, and using drop-out inks in areas where no information is needed, greatly speeds up the process.

Choosing paper. You can make big savings by choosing the correct paper for the scanner that will be used. The right choice prevents jams and requires less operator intervention. This lets you get the results fast.

Get a PO Box near the service bureau. If the service bureau empties the box, you can reduce the transport costs considerably. Using a different PO box for each survey reduces the amount of sorting that needs to be done, and it speeds both the scanning and keying process.

Choosing the right size paper. Using a large sheet of paper may cost you more in postage, but you’ll save in the scanning process. If the forms don’t have to be unfolded, savings can also be made. Putting all the information that needs to be scanned on one side of the form also leads to savings.

Registration marks. Placing egistration marks in the correct places makes it easier for the scanner to deal with skew because it doesn’t have to locate the edges of the page.

Before you give your job to the bureau, make sure they’ve done similar jobs in the past. Don’t let the bureau learn new skills with your project – unless you’re getting a great price or see it as the start of a long term relationship. The service bureau industry is so competitive, many bureaus to bite off more than they can chew.

*source:Imaging Magazine

How To Choose A Service Bureau

If all it took to be a great service bureau was nice staff, the world would be filled with great service bureaus. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to it than that. Here’s a list of things to ask before you had over your valuable documents to the first nice person who walks through your door.

1. Security. What sort of security does the bureau have. If you’re having confidential records such as financial information converted, you want to make sure not just anybody can walk in the door and wander around the bureau. If the service bureau subcontracts work, find out what sort of security the subcontractor has.

2. Volume. Check on the size of an average job. If you have only 30,000 documents that need to be converted and the bureau specializes in very large conversions, your job may not receive the priority you think it deserves. Likewise, if the bureau is a mom and pop operation they may have problems converting your five million documents in a reasonable time frame.

3. Document size. If you have a lot of documents that are odd sizes, make sure the bureau can handle these. Specialized equipment costs big bucks, and not every service bureau has it on hand.

4. Location. Choosing a bureau near you may save transport costs but cost you in the types of service available. Make sure you choose not only provides the services you want, but also has experience in that type of job. You don’t want to pay the service bureau to learn new skills – unless your getting a really great price.

5. Access and tracking. Check on how the bureau handles it’s workflow. You may need a document during the conversion process. Make sure you can get at your documents after hours if your data is of a critical nature.

6. On-site capture. It may be cheaper to have the bureau come to your location to scan or film documents. While this can save time and money, it can cause problems if they overload your facilities or need security clearance from some of your clients.

7. Bids. Make sure you compare bids carefully. It’s not uncommon for bureaus to leave out certain items (sometimes on purpose) or charge individually for services such as document preparation. Get a fixed price for as many items as possible. Things that are often charged for separately include setup, database creation and cleaning of dirty microfilm. Get everything up front – and avoid nasty surprises later.

8. Disaster preparation. If the service bureau uses sprinklers for fire prevention, be careful. If a fire breaks out, the water ill probably ruin the documents that the fire leaves untouched. Inert gases are a much better solution.

9. Output formats. Make sure the bureau outputs the format you need. If they have to buy a machine to handle the format you use, there could be problems as they learn it.

10. Quality control. Make sure the quality meets your standards. If you expect 100% readability on every section of every image and 100% accuracy with OCR, it will cost you a lot more than if you only want the bureau to check 10% or 20% of your documents.

*source:Imaging Magazine