How To Scan And Store All Your Business Documents

Why keep a filing cabinet full of paperwork when you can scan everything and store it online? Follow these steps to make it happen.

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The first step in creating a paperless office is to digitise the documents you already have. To pull this off effectively, you’re going to need a decent scanner. This not only saves on clutter, but you can also keep multiple backups to ensure you never lose an important receipt come tax time. (Thermal paper has a tendency to fade alarmingly quickly.)

As we have noted in the past , the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) considers electronic records to be just as valid as paper ones. This includes digital documents that you originally received in paper form, such as scanned receipts.

Choose The Right Scanner

Standalone scanners might not be as prolific as they once were, but there are still plenty of viable options on the market. Some will suit your needs better than others so it pays to do as much research as possible prior to purchase.

You’re going to want a model that can handle all the paper sizes you regularly deal with in the office – from business cards to full-sized sheets of paper. Keep this in mind when making your decision and only buy what you need. For example, if you rarely handle A3 documents, there’s probably no need to splurge out on a plus-size model; this will just be wasting space in the office.

Speed and reliability are also important factors. Look for versatile document feeders that can house multi-sided documents in the loading tray — this will save you the hassle of having to feed each page one after the other.

If you frequently work abroad, you might also want to consider a portable scanner. There are numerous models on the market that are compact enough to fit inside a small bag with power supplied via USB.

You might also want to consider an all-in-one printer which includes a printer, fax machine and scanner in a single device. They are relatively affordable and space-efficient compared to buying three dedicated devices. On the downside, more people will be lining up to use it at once.

Choose The Right Software

You need to purchase a scanner with great software support and an intuitive user interface to help keep all your files organised. Some models can convert text documents into searchable PDFs. You can also find companion apps that provide additional control via your phone.

If you get a chance, try to play around with a few different models and see how well the inbuilt software functions. Unless you work in design, a fast and user-friendly UI is arguably more important than perfectly scanned images.

Choose Where To Store

Scanning your documents is only the first step of the process: you also need somewhere to store them. Many scanners provide the ability to automatically sync to cloud storage services like Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive.

Others let you scan directly to your iPhone, Android device or laptop via inbuilt Wi-Fi. If you prefer an old school approach, you can also rely on the scanner’s inbuilt USB thumb drive. Another option worth considering is a shared office NAS, where all scanned documents are automatically sent.

Can your smartphone be a scanner?

Your smartphone’s camera coupled with an organisational app could be the scanning solution you're looking for. The chief advantage is that it's free (other than the app you're using), and only requires the equipment you already own.

On the other hand, it is likely to be slower and less reliable. Scanning large, multi-page documents will undoubtedly be an agonising process with a smartphone’s camera. With that said, there are a handful of apps out there than can make the process more tolerable. Just be aware that you generally get what you pay for.

Schedule Scanning Sessions Regularly

Whichever option you go for, be sure to schedule scanning sessions and backups regularly. To help you get into the habit, add it to your calendar.

Once you've scanned your documents and made multiple backups, it's time to remove all that dead weight from the office. If you are working with sensitive material be sure to shred it first. You should also make a point of recycling it.


    The two big pain factors of this are:

    1. Scanning hundreds / thousands of existing documents page by page takes considerable time. Is it possible to bulk feed scan at secure premises for a day to achieve this?

    2. Renaming the scanned files to something intelligible adds further time. Some smarts behind dynamic file naming would be most welcome.

      My Scansnap 1500M can handle bulk scanning up to about 50 pages. I usually OCR just the 1st page so that the relvent keywords can be detected (supplier name, account name, person etc).

      I then use Hazel from Noodlesoft to automatically rename and file the PDF based on rules - such as Bank Statement from CBA renamed to CBA-(account number)-(date), this is the actual date detected within the statement or scanning date if document date not found. The renamed document is then moved to the fileing location.

      All of the above happens automatically within seconds of the scanning being completed

      I store my documents in the local Google Drive location on my Mac so that they are automatically uploaded to the cloud so they can be accessed remotely via the web, smart phone or tablet.

      Last edited 31/03/15 4:52 pm

      My Epson work force series printer has an auto document feeder so it can do upto I dunno but I've done 93 pages double sided in one go.

    I rely on my old Fujitsu Scansnap for scanning directly to searchable PDF. These get saved to a folder on my Mac where I then have "Hazel" monitor the folder. I've created many rules in Hazel which look for dates and other strings in the documents and renames the files accordingly and moves them to the correct folder in Dropbox. I can then confidently shred straight away if I don't need the original.

    +1 to Fujitsu Scansnap. Great little duplex scanner with document feeder.

    After a lot of trial and error, I finally figured out a solution that works pretty well for me at home.

    There's two elements that I need in order to get this done in a simple way, duplex scanning with an automatic document feeder, and easy access to cloud storage.

    The Epson WF-3640 (about $200 from Officeworks) does all that, and makes it super easy. Any mail I receive I just pop into the automatic document feeder, and it automatically uploads to Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box. Unfortunately it doesn't go to OneDrive, which I use, but a simple Zapier connection moves the file for me automatically.

    The outcome is that I have all my mail scanned and filed, with the full document content indexed using OCR (that's why I use OneDrive, it does it on all documents for free, I couldn't get Google Drive to do anything other than smaller documents), and other than the cost of the Epson I don't have to pay anything.

    Very easy and reliable, would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a solution at home.

      I use the WF-3540, which I assume is pretty much the same printer - and I have it set up to send documents to different evernote folders. So I just stick the document(s) on the feeder, choose the evernote folder I want, and press the button.

    1. ImageStation - scans quickly using unique algorithms that allows scanning of big size documents. It is compatible with sheetfed scanners and integrates with a majority of scanners’ modifications such as WIA-scanners. And also this application can work with Web-cams by means of which you can shoot your documents with further savings or printing.
    2. ImageStation can save images and documents to PNG, JPG, TIFF and PDF. It should be emphasized that it has the ability to save all images per page in one click with automatic pagination.
    3. ImageStation can make booklets, or simply put books, if you need to print information in more comfortable format for reading. And note that this feature allows paper saving.
    4. ImageStation allows users fast loading of lots of different format files (JPEG, PNG, BMP, PDF and TIFF). Also the software has the window for thumbnails which can be moved just by simply dragging.

    Enjoy! :-)

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