Generally, scanning services are considered a commodity, with most providers offering similar solutions. Pricing is typically based on scanning single-sided, black-and-white A4 pages and creating TIFF images at 200 or 300 Dots Per Inch (DPI). Deviations in document color or size may result in increased costs. It is common for vendors to utilize Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to generate a text version of the images. However, even the most accurate OCR process may contain errors, with a 99.9% accuracy rate translating to 4-5 misspellings on a single A4 sheet.
A primary concern in scanning services is unitization, which refers to the process of combining individual images derived from a document to form a cohesive set of “pages” representing the document. Issues may arise when a scanning provider obtains the images and passes them to a second provider for coding purposes. The latter provider may interpret document breaks without referencing the original documents, leading to potential inaccuracies in understanding how pages were originally connected through staples, paperclips, or other means.
Scanning vendors typically adopt one of two approaches to address unitization:
- Manual Unitization: The majority of providers rely on their operators to manually assemble the images of pages within the files.
- Pre-Prepared Slip Sheets: A more sophisticated minority of providers use pre-prepared slip sheets, inserted between pages to indicate document start and end, paper clips, attached post-it notes, etc. Their scanning software recognizes these coding forms, removes the slip sheet images, and reconstructs the electronic file version to accurately reflect the original paper version’s unitization.
For smaller scanning projects, unitization concerns may be insignificant. However, for larger projects (e.g., over 20 lever arch files), addressing unitization is crucial to avoid potential complications.
Lastly, it is standard practice to assign a unique identifier to each image for easy reference. Historically, BATES numbering has been used, assigning a number to each page following a predetermined format. However, as systems increasingly accept whole-document PDFs rather than individual page scans, the need for individual page numbering has diminished, with document numbers now used to identify specific records.
For draft requirements within this area, please refer to the Procurement section.