Best Practices: Selecting a Scanner

By Barry MacQuarrie, CPA.CITP

From the January-March 2007 Issue & 2007 Tax Season Survival Guide

With paperless and document storage initiatives at firms and companies in full swing, one of the key components of any efficient process is the scanner. Even though scanners have come a long way since simple flatbeds, the choices and implementation can be overwhelming. Scanning solutions range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars. As with any technology investment, your ability to select the proper solution is a matter of matching your needs to the scanner’s capabilities. The following factors should be considered when buying a scanner for your office.

TYPES OF SOURCE DOCUMENTS
Review the various types of documents that exist in your office. Do you process black and white documents, color or both? Are all documents single sided? What sized documents do you process? Do you need a scanner that can accommodate small documents such as a W-2 or 1099? Do you need a scanner that can process large documents such as a schedule printed on green bar paper?

Factors To Consider When Buying A Scanner For Your Office

  • Types of Source Documents
  • Quantity of Source Documents
  • Who Is Using the Scanner?
  • Document Storage
  • Document Quality

QUANTITY OF SOURCE DOCUMENTS
Determine the number of documents that need to be scanned on a daily basis. This will help you determine the per page speed requirement of your scanner and if your new scanner needs an automatic document feeder.

WHO IS USING THE SCANNER?
Determine how many people need access to the scanner. You must decide if the scanner will serve a single person or your entire office. Entry-level scanners typically attach directly to a single PC and serve one person. Larger scanners can be configured to attach directly to your network and serve the entire office.

DOCUMENT STORAGE
It is important to understand the various file formats and storage options that are available for your digital documents. The office should use a single file format for all scanned images. Common file formats include *.PDF, *.JPG and *.TIF. In addition, your office should determine how the files will be stored before selecting a scanner. Will they be stored on a shared network, in a document management system or on local hard drives? The scanner and document routing software should match your document storage plans.

Scanning Solution Vendors And Their Websites:

Brotherwww.brother-usa.com
Canonwww.solutions.canon.com
Epsonwww.epson.com
Fujitsuwww.fujitsu.com/us
HPwww.hp.com
Kodakwww.kodak.com
Konica Minoltahttp://konicaminolta.us
Ricohwww.ricoh-usa.com
Visioneerwww.visioneer.com
Xeroxwww.xerox.com

DOCUMENT QUALITY
The specifications for a scanner often include output resolution. This number determines the quality of the scans and is important if you need to reproduce the images in paper format. At the very least, the output resolution should match the capabilities of the printers in your office. Typically, printers are set to 600 dpi.

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Barry MacQuarrie, CPA.CITP, is director of Technology for KAF Financial Group and is the CIO for an affiliated company, XCM Solutions. He has extensive experience working with technologies used by tax and accounting firms, including paperless office solutions, workflow applications and document management software. Barry is a member of the AICPA Information Technology Executive Committee and can be contacted at barry.macquarrie@kafgroup.com.

 

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