There are basically two types of document imaging projects. The differences between the two are related to where the documents are going to go once they’ve been converted to digital format. Below, we’ll briefly explain the two classes:
- Digitizing for long-term storage: Scanning documents which will be sent to a document repository for their long-term preservation. The main idea behind these projects is digital storage, whether it be for purposes of accessibility the information, or for its preservation. With this class of document imaging projects, the documents involved might be old documents or those which are worked with on a day-to-day basis. These are the most basic type of document imaging projects and, usually, their return on investment isn’t always clear; but they’re usually taken on because of the need to satisfy the consultation difficulties associated with paper-based documents, or for the desire to eliminate costs associated with storing paper-based documents. These processes don't normally require data extraction, since activity is mostly focused on converting documents to a digital format and storing them. That said, it might at least include the use of OCR to make it easier to search for information in the future. One example: a library wants to digitize its collection, or the staff of a hospital wants to digitize old patient histories, while it’s probably going to keep working with paper.
- Digitizing business processes: These projects have a pretty clear return on investment for businesses because they mean automating tasks which normally are carried out by people. Aside from the conversion of these documents in digital format, these projects seek to obtain information from documents so that they can be used to feed different business processes. One example to look at is the example of travel allowances. The invoice for a train ticket is scanned; the system recognizes the invoice and extracts data such as the name of the worker that used the ticket and the total amount for the trip. Once extracted, the data is sent to the program that the business uses to approve the reimbursement of the total amount of the ticket. This kind of project needs advanced document capture software and integration with various business software applications used by businesses.