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ISM Article

The Paperless, or Rather, "LessPaper Office

15 Aug, 2002 By: Marc Spring imageSource

The Paperless, or Rather, "LessPaper Office

paperless office is a myth. In our lifetime an environment that will become
truly paperless will never exist. As hard drives have increased in size, become
more reliable and are less expensive, storing documents in a digital format will
create “lesspaper” offices. Clicks will continue to be lost to digital
files. The opportunity exists for dealers of all sizes to capitalize on the
vastly expanding “lesspaper” market.

your dealership employs 5 or 500 there is a product that your sales and
technical staff can master and work into your current product mix. Most of the
companies that offer Document Management and Imaging products are willing to
work one-on-one with dealers to aid them in bringing their companies into the
scanning and software marketplace.

following article highlights the basics of Document Management and Imaging
systems. In the coming months we will profile dealer success stories, new
products and new opportunities for dealers in this area. Hundreds of dealers,
VARs and re-sellers in our channel have already taken the leap, you need to at
least take a look.

for Document Imaging & Management Systems

Document imaging is the conversion of paper documents into electronic images on
your computer. Once on your desktop, these documents can be retrieved
effortlessly in seconds. Thousands of organizations around the world use
document imaging every day instead of paper filing systems. The reasons for this
change are simple:

  • Prevents
    lost records

  • Cuts
    down the cost of printing (I know you don’t want to hear this)

  • Saves
    storage space

  • Manages
    records easily

  • Finds
    documents quickly

  • Makes
    images centrally available

  • Eliminates
    need for file cabinets

steps necessary to introduce document imaging are simple:

Documents are scanned into the system.2) The document imaging system stores them
somewhere on a hard drive or optical disk. 3) The documents then get indexed.
When a person later wants to read a document, they use the retrieval tools
available in the document imaging system. Which documents can be read and what
actions performed on these documents is dependent on the access provided by the
document imaging system.

complete document imaging system comprises five elements: 


Major advancements in scanning technology make paper document conversion fast,
inexpensive, and easy.


The storage system provides long-term and reliable storage for documents. A good
storage system will accommodate changing documents, growing volumes and
advancing technology. 


The index system creates an organized document filing system and makes future
retrieval simple and efficient. A good indexing system will make existing
procedures and systems more effective. 


The retrieval system uses information about the documents, including index and
text, to find images stored in the system. A good retrieval system will make
finding the right documents fast and easy. 


Document viewing should be readily available to those who need it, with the
flexibility to control access to system. A good access system will make
documents viewable to authorized personnel, whether in the office, at different
locations, or over the Internet. Document imaging builds on the strong points of
paper documents: Files are scanned or electronically converted and a
high-resolution photocopy is stored on a hard drive or optical disk. Electronic
“index cards” can attach information to a document such as author, reference
number or date created. Files can still be viewed, printed, shared and stored,
but imaging adds an enormous advantage by giving documents active content.

longer just ink on a page, document text is “read” by Optical Character
Recognition (OCR) technology. A system should allow users to retrieve files by
searching for any word or phrase in the text, by folder location or by “index
card” information. Which documents people can read, and what actions or
modifications they can perform on these documents, depends on their level of
security, which should be controlled by the document imaging system.

are three primary methods of bringing files into a document imaging system:

Scanning, for paper files

Conversion, for creating unalterable images of electronic documents

Importation, for creating modifiable versions of electronic documents


Scanning a document produces a raster (picture) image that can be stored on a
computer. The ability to use a wide range of scanners is one of the defining
characteristics of a good imaging system.

document imaging scanner should have an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF).
Scanners without an ADF are primarily designed for imaging graphics.

can handle a variety of paper sizes, from business cards to engineering
drawings. Most departments only need to scan documents up to legal-size paper
(81/2" x 14"). For organizations or departments that use blueprints,
plans and architectural drawings, there are large-format scanners that support
E-sized (34" x 44") documents. Options such as color or grayscale
(used for photographs) increase the scanner’s price.

imaging scanners can handle between 10 – 200 pages per minute. These are
available in both simplex mode and duplex mode. Duplex scanning allows both
sides of a two-sided document to be scanned in a single pass.


Converting documents is the process of transforming electronic word or
spreadsheet documents into a permanent raster image format for storage within an
imaging system. Windows applications, such as Microsoft Word, Excel or Autodesk
AutoCAD, can “print” existing files into an unalterable image of the
document. These images are usually stored as archival-quality TIFF (Tagged Image
File Format). The conversion process also generates a complete text file, while
retaining the visual formatting and layout of the original file. This text file
can then be used for full-text indexing of the document to assist with later

electronic documents bypasses scanning and produces a cleaner image than scanned
paper files. This method of “imaging” electronic documents is best suited
for permanent archives.

is all we have room for this month. In next months issue we will cover Storing
, Indexing
, Retrieving
, and Controlling
Access. We will also supply you with an abbreviated list of Document Management
software and systems. Please take some time to learn the terminology we have
provided in the sidebars as it will help you understand better the articles as
we go forward.

information presented in this article was provided courtesy of LaserFiche a
provider of software solutions for the Document Management industry. You can
visit them on the web at www.laserfiche.com

also known as electronic document management, is the method for bringing
electronic files, such as office suite documents, graphics, audio clips or video
files, into a document imaging system. Files can be “dragged and dropped”
into an imaging system, but are modifiable and remain in their native format.
These files can be viewed in their original format by either launching the
originating application or by using an embedded file viewer from within the
imaging system


The changes or additions made to a document using sticky notes, a highlighter,
or other electronic tools. Document images or text can be highlighted in
different colors, redacted (blacked-out or whited-out), stamped (e.g.
“FAXED” or “CONFIDENTIAL”), or have electronic sticky notes attached.
Annotations should be overlaid and not change the original document.


American Standard Computer Information Interchange. Used to define computer text
that was built on a set of 255 alphanumeric and control characters. ASCII has
been a standard, non-proprietary text format since 1963.

Bar Code

A small pattern of vertical lines that is read by a laser or an optical scanner,
and which corresponds to a record in a database. An add-on component to imaging
software, this feature is designed to increase the speed with which documents
can be archived.

Batch Processing

The name of the technique used to input a large amount of information in a
single step, as opposed to individual processes.


A native file format of Windows for storing images called “bitmaps.”

Boolean Logic

The use of the terms “AND,” “OR” and “NOT” in conducting searches.
Used to widen or narrow the scope of a search.


A method to simplify the transport of a group of documents from one computer to

Caching (of Images)

The temporary storage of image files on a hard disk for later migration to
permanent storage, like an optical or CD jukebox.

CD Publishing

An alternative to photocopying large volumes of paper documents. This method
involves coupling image and text documents with viewer software on CDs.
Sometimes search software is included on the CDs to enhance search capabilities.


Short for CD-Recordable. This is a CD which can be written (or recorded) only
once. It can be copied to distribute a large amount of data.


Compact Disc Read Only Memory. Written on a large scale and not on a standard
computer CD burner (CD writer), they are an optical disk storage media popular
for storing computer files as well as digitally-recorded music.

CD-ROM Drive

A computer drive that reads compact discs.


Computer Output to Laser Disk. A computer programming process that outputs
electronic records and printed reports to laser disk instead of a printer. Can
be used to replace COM (Computer Output to Microfilm) or printed reports such as

Compression Ratio

The ratio of the file sizes of a compressed file to an uncompressed file, e.g.,
with a 20:1 compression ratio, an uncompressed file of 1 MB is compressed to 50


Removing shaded areas to render images more easily recognizable by OCR.
De-shading software typically searches for areas with a regular pattern of tiny


The process of straightening skewed (off-center) images. De-skewing is one of
the image enhancements that can improve OCR accuracy. Documents often become
skewed when they are scanned or faxed.


Removing isolated speckles from an image file. Speckles often develop when a
document is scanned or faxed.


The process of converting grays to different densities of black dots, usually
for the purposes of printing or storing color or grayscale images as black and
white images.

Document Imaging

Software used to store, manage, retrieve and distribute documents quickly and
easily on the computer.

Duplex Scanners vs. Double-Sided Scanning

Duplex scanners automatically scan both sides of a double-sided page, producing
two images at once. Double-sided scanning uses a single-sided scanner to scan
double-sided pages, scanning one collated stack of paper, then flipping it over
and scanning the other side.

Electronic Document Management

Imaging software that helps manage electronic documents.

Erasable Optical Drive

A type of optical drive that uses erasable optical discs.

Flatbed Scanner

A flat-surface scanner that allows users to input books and other documents.

Folder Browser

A system of on-screen folders (usually hierarchical or “stacked”) used to
organize documents. For example, the File Manager program in Microsoft Windows
is a type of folder browser that displays the directories on your disk.

Forms Processing

A specialized imaging application designed for handling pre-printed forms. Forms
processing systems often use high-end (or multiple) OCR engines and elaborate
data validation routines to extract hand-written or poor quality print from
forms that go into a database.

Indexing and Search

Enables the retrieval of documents by either their word or phrase content. Every
word in the document is indexed into a master word list with pointers to the
documents and pages where each occurrence of the word appears.

Fuzzy Logic

A full-text search procedure that looks for exact matches as well as
similarities to the search criteria, in order to compensate for spelling or OCR


CompuServe’s native file format for storing images.


One billion bytes. Also expressed as one thousand megabytes. In terms of image
storage capacity, one gigabyte equals approximately 17,000 8 1/2" x
11" pages scanned at 300 dpi.


Intelligent Character Recognition. A software process that recognizes
handwritten and printed text as alphanumeric characters.

Image Enabling

A software function that creates links between existing applications and stored

Image Processing Card (IPC)

A board mounted in either the computer, scanner or printer that facilitates the
acquisition and display of images. The primary function of most IPCs is the
rapid compression and decompression of image files.

Index Fields

Database fields used to categorize and organize documents. Often user-defined,
these fields can be used for searches.

Internet Publishing

Specialized imaging software that allows large volumes of paper documents to be
published on the Internet or intranet.


Communications protocol used by Novell networks.

ISIS and TWAIN Scanner Drivers

Specialized applications used for communication between scanners and computers.


An image compression format used for storing color photographs and images.


A mass storage device that holds optical disks and loads them into a drive.

Key Field

Database fields used for document searches and retrieval.


A drive that combines laser and magnetic technology to create high-capacity
erasable storage.


Documents stored on optical disks or compact disks that are housed in the
jukebox or CD changer and can be retrieved without human intervention.


Optical Character Recognition. A software process that recognizes printed text
as alphanumeric characters.


Archival documents stored on optical disks or compact disks that are not
connected or installed in the computer, but instead require human intervention
to be accessed.


Documents stored on the hard drive or magnetic disk of a computer that are
available immediately.

Optical Disks

Computer media similar to a compact disc that cannot be rewritten. An optical
drive uses a laser to read the stored data.

Phase Change

A method of storing information on rewritable optical disks.


Picture Element. A single dot in an image. It can be black and white, grayscale
or color.

Portable Volumes

A feature that facilitates the moving of large volumes of documents without
requiring copying multiple files. Portable volumes enable individual CDs to be
easily regrouped, detached and reattached to different databases for a broader
information exchange.

Raster/Rasterized (Raster or Bitmap

A method of representing an image with a grid (or “map”) of dots or pixels.
Typical raster file formats are GIF, JPEG, TIFF, PCX, BMP, etc.

Region (of an image)

An area of an image file that is selected for specialized processing. Also
called a “zone.”


An option to display a black and white image file in an enhanced mode, making it
easier to view. A scale-to-gray display uses gray shading to fill in gaps or
jumps (known as aliasing) that occur when displaying an image file on a computer
screen. Also known as grayscale.


The capacity of a system to expand without requiring major reconfiguration or
re-entry of data. Multiple servers or additional storage can be easily added.


An input device commonly used to convert paper documents into computer images.
Scanner devices are also available to scan microfilm and microfiche.


Small Computer Systems Interface. Pronounced “skuzzy.” A standard for
attaching peripherals (notably mass storage devices and scanners) to computers.
SCSI allows for up to 7 devices to be attached in a chain via cables.


Structured Query Language. The popular standard for running database searches
(queries) and reports.


Network communications protocol. This is the protocol used by the Internet.

Templates, Document

Sets of index fields for documents.


Small versions of an image used for quick overviews or to get a general idea of
what an image looks like.


Tagged Image File Format. A non-proprietary format raster graphics image that
has many different compression formats. TIFF has been in use since 1981.

Video Scanner Interface

A type of device used to connect scanners with computers. Scanners with this
interface require a scanner control board designed by Kofax, Xionics or Dunord.

Workflow, Rule-Based

A programmed series of automated steps that route documents to various users on
a multi-user imaging system.

WORM Disks

Write Once Read Many Disks. A popular archival storage media during the 1980s.
Acknowledged as the first optical disks, they are primarily used to store
archives of data that cannot be altered. WORM disks are created by standalone
PCs and cannot be used on the network, unlike CD-Rs.

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