Guidelines for Integrating Document Imaging Components

The productivity benefits of adding or upgrading a document imaging system can be substantial. However, companies often do not realize the complexity of integrating document imaging into their applications or processes. This can lead to wasted engineering effort, delayed roll-out dates, re-engineering of other applications, or project abandonment before completion. Working with an imaging vendor from the beginning of the process to assess the following points and set clear objectives will help to ensure that you avoid common pitfalls and let you achieve the full benefits of document imaging.

  • Business Needs – You know your business and what you need to accomplish to be profitable. Your first step in selecting a document imaging solution should be a conversation with an imaging expert to prioritize the capabilities and set the requirements your imaging component needs to help you achieve your objectives.
  • Review documents and workflows – Analysis of your current workflow processes by an imaging professional can show you how to improve these processes when implementing imaging capabilities. Important points are identifying areas that can be improved, steps that will need to be added, existing steps that will no longer be necessary, and areas that may require training. You can then map out new workflow processes in advance to prepare end-users for implementation.
  • Formats – Consult with an imaging professional to list all of the proprietary (MS Office) and non-proprietary (PDF, TIFF) image formats that your organization uses; this may include specialized formats used in a single department. Then determine the formats for documents or images that will be created during your workflow processes; selecting non-proprietary formats with recognized standards when possible.
  • Compare your final list with your vendors’ supported formats to determine if they offer universal viewing, the capability to display multiple formats including proprietary formats in a single viewing product.
  • Architecture – Choosing a platform for your document imaging system often means extending the current platform that is dominant in your organization. However, you should work with an imaging professional to determine the best platform to meet your current and future development needs. Once your platform is chosen, examine the underlying architecture of any third-party software that you plan to integrate to ensure your document imaging component will meet any standards or security requirements set by your company.
  • Legacy Systems – The applications and systems that you already have installed, especially any kind of document repository or management system, must be considered when integrating a document imaging component. Determining how these applications will connect and work together should be done in collaboration with your imaging software vendor.
  • Support Services – Budget for a maintenance program. This will give you access to the imaging software vendor’s support resources for faster implementation and integration of your applications. Look to what resources they have to guide your engineers or any third party contractors through installation and set-up. Your engineers or contractors may not be familiar with integrating this type of component and you could end up with imaging applications that behave unreliably or take unnecessarily long to implement. Also keep in mind that software development is an ongoing process. Many imaging software providers offer services for developing specific features that may become important as you grow your imaging system.

Contact us to speak with an imaging expert who will help you plan for integrating document imaging into your applications or systems. For more information on analysis, selection and implementation of electronic document management systems, read the new Recommended Practices guidelines published by AIIM.