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Should we set up a central scanning bureau or allow decentralised scanning?

For years we were often asked this question because the thought of allowing any member of staff to scan documents onto shared drives or into a document management system was enough to scare most managers.  Particularly when scanning from multi-functional devices (MFDs).

Why? Because controlling the quality of the scanning was virtually impossible. Here are a few examples of why: 

  • First, there was little control on the scanner settings used.  They could easily be changed by the user, therefore it was all too easy to scan images at a poor quality, or even scan unnecessarily large file sizes, taking up large amount of storage space.
  • Second, the indexing/naming of the documents may have lacked consistency as it’s difficult to enforce naming rules across multiple staff and multiple devices.
  • Third, how could you make sure all pages had been scanned? How would you enforce a strict quality assurance policy?
  • Fourth, how would you know who scanned poor quality documents so they can be re-trained?
  • Finally, even if scanning procedures were written and circulated and staff trained accordingly, how could you evidence procedures were followed? 

As a result, many organisations decided to centralise the scanning to a team who carried out scanning as a full-time role to facilitate quality control.  This was especially important to organisations with compliance requirements who wanted to destroy the original paperwork and evidence the authenticity of the scanned documents. 

How about decentralised scanning?

Today, more and more businesses are now looking at and implementing a decentralised scanning approach. Why? 
Decentralised scanning has quickly become the desired choice. When paired with an integrated, cloud scanning software solution such as Kodak Alaris Info Input, you can see many benefits compared to a centralised scanning bureau:

  • Improved efficiency - Decentralised scanning allows for documents to be captured in various locations within your business and each department can maintain their own scanning. This approach means that your documents can be scanned on arrival within your department and therefore uploaded to your EDMS quicker than if they were passed over to the central scanning team.
  • Mobility and improved efficiency – Decentralised scanning using a cloud solution also means mobile workers can scan from home or any other location they happen to be working from. They no longer need to wait until they’re in the office to make documents available to the rest of the team.
  • Improved confidentiality - No longer will your confidential documents need to be passed to a scanning team for upload, therefore increasing the risk of confidentiality being breached. Whether these are senior management related documents, HR or legal files, they can be scanned easily within your department. 
  • Reduced cost - Utilising your existing team, no extra staff are required. With decentralised scanning, the staff who once filed your paper documents can now focus on scanning and uploading your electronic documentation. 

Top tips for successful decentralised scanning

To ensure that your decentralised scanning process is successful, we suggest following these simple steps. 

  • Write a detailed scanning procedure that’s easy to follow in order to ensure quality and consistency.
  • Consider having a small central team who audit the scanning carried out to ensure procedures are followed, re-train where necessary and enforce compliance.
  • Designate a few “scanning” operators at each location, amend their job descriptions accordingly, monitor the quality of their work and address poor performance.
  • Avoid using MDFs where possible, if it can’t be avoided, make sure a computer is attached so the quality of images scanned can be monitored at the time of scanning; and rescanned where necessary. 
  • Use a scanning application which forces certain scanner settings to be used, prescribes the indexing choices, identifies the user, and forces a quality control step. 
  • Use a cloud scanning application to free mobile workers and allow them to scan and/or upload documents from any location. We often recommend Kodak Alaris Info Input to our clients. Find out more about Kodak Alaris Info Input here.


Ensuring that you get the most of your scanning approach is vital. Decentralised scanning is growing increasingly more popular within businesses no matter what sector they operate in. With increased levels of confidentiality and efficiency it often proves the most effective choice. Why not speak to us about choosing the right scanner and the right software for you, such as Kodak Alaris Info Input. For more information and to discuss your individual needs, get in touch.

Check back soon for our blog on Multifunction devices vs dedicated scanners.