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Best Practices: Selecting a Scanner

Special Feature from the 2007 Tax Season Survival Guide

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.

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

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.

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.

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:
Konica Minolta

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.


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