Q. Are my documents safe?
A. Assuming proper controls have been put in place and administered, electronic files tend to be much more secure than paper files. For example, you will have the ability to restrict access down to the word on a particular page. You will also have the ability to track who has accessed the files. This is the highest level of security possible for electronic records, the Department of Defense level of security (DoD 5015.2)
Q. My auditors like paper, how do I handle this situation?
A. In the case of a request for a hard copy of a document, users can simply print out the imaged file.
Q. Can I store my e-mails?
A. Yes, with automation tools you may store your emails while being able to search through the important information, such as sender, subject and content of the email.
Q. Does a document management system allow me to edit or alter images?
A. A document management system should not allow the original image to be altered or edited. Annotations should be overlays that do not alter the original document. It is important to protect the original image in order to maintain both the legal status of the document and the integrity of the system. Users will have control to determine if electronic files should be edited.
Q. Do document management systems support audit trails?
A. Yes. A document management system’s audit trail should record username, date, time, document name and action for every instance in which a user accesses a repository or document. Various levels of audit trail logging detail and activity tracking should be available. The system should include a viewer to sort and filter these logs. Audit trails are especially important for regulatory compliance.
Q. What is the standard format used to store images?
A. Black and white images are most commonly stored as standard TIFF files using CCITT Group IV (two-dimensional) compression. Grayscale and color images are frequently stored as TIFF files with JPEG compression.
Q. What is the standard format used to store text?
A. ASCII, which stands for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, has been the standard, non-proprietary text format since 1963.
Q. How much disk space does a document management system typically require?
A. A single page typically occupies around 50KB of disk space, if the image is stored in TIFF Group IV. Each gigabyte (GB) of storage space, which amounts to only a few dollars, holds approximately 20,000 pages. With the significant drop in prices for hard drives and optical media, it costs much less to store documents in a document management system than on paper.
Q. Do I have to scan everything?
A. No, electronic documents can be maintained in their original format through a drag and drop process or they can be virtually printed into the repository in an achieved format. Paper files will be required to be scanned, however, automation tools can greatly reduce the amount of time and effort spent on this process.
Q. What are the most common hardware and software scanner interfaces?
A. Many scanners attach to an Adaptec® SCSI card or to a Kofax® image processing board. Most scanners use either TWAIN or ISIS drivers to communicate with the computer.
Q. Can I capture information from multifunction peripherals (MFPs)?
A. A full-featured document management system allows you to capture documents from different network locations, including MFPs, which are devices that perform any combination of scanning, printing, faxing or copying.
Q. What image resolution should I use?
A. Most imaging systems can support documents scanned at various resolutions, from 50 dpi to 600 dpi (or more), depending on your scanner. Depending on the purpose and the contents of the page, most documents are scanned in black and white at 300 dpi.
Q. What about color files or photographs?
A. Imaging systems should support black and white, grayscale and color images. Color files can be scanned with a color scanner or imported into a document management system. There are a wide range of color scanners on the market. Many document management scanners support both color and grayscale.
Q. What file formats can a versatile system import?
A. A versatile system should be able to import all the file types you encounter in your office. This includes word processing files, spreadsheets and presentations, as well as common image formats such as TIFF Group IV, TIFF Group III, TIFF Raw, TIFF LZQ, PCX, BMP, CALS, JPEG, GIF, PICT, PNG and EPS preview images. To ensure that your image files will always be accessible, the document management system should use a non-proprietary format for scanned documents. For example, electronic document pages would be printed to the document management system, black and white graphical files would be converted to TIFF Group IV format and color/grayscale images would be converted to TIFF or JPEG.
Q. How do I index scanned documents?
A. There are three primary ways to index documents: folder structure, template fields and full-text indexing. Folder structure essentially functions as a visual indexing method that allows users to browse for documents by categories. Template fields categorize documents according to keywords, which can be either manually entered or automatically assigned by the document management program. Full-text indexing is the automated process of entering every word in a document into the index.
Q. What is metadata?
A. Metadata is descriptive information about an object or resource, whether it is physical or electronic. ISO 15489 describes metadata as “data describing context, content and structure of documents and records and their management through time.” Metadata allows users to locate and evaluate data, without requiring each user to recreate it with each use. One easy way to categorize metadata is to break it into three categories:
Descriptive, Structural and Administrative.
- Descriptive: Information describing the content, used for search and retrieval.
- Structural: Information that ties one item with another, such as documents in a particular folder.
- Administrative: Information used to manage and control access to an item, such as security permissions.
Q. How can I use metadata to better index my documents?
A. The first question to ask yourself is, “With my current system, how do I find documents?” This question helps you determine what your descriptive metadata should be. Your goal is to find a balance between what information is necessary and what information is nice to have.
Q. What is OCR?
A. OCR stands for Optical Character
Recognition and refers to the way a computer converts words from an unsearchable scanned image to searchable text. OCR is usually necessary in order to use full-text indexing and searches, so it should be included in an imaging and document management system. OCR engines can generally only recognize typed or laser-printed text, not handwriting.
Q. What is the difference between OCR and indexing?
A. OCR is the process of converting scanned images to text files. Full-text indexing is the process of adding each word from a text field to an index that specifies the location of every word on every document. Well-designed document management software can make this a fast and easy procedure, providing rapid access to any word in any document.
Q. What is the difference between template field searches and full-text searches?
A. Template field searches enable you to retrieve pre-established categories of documents, whereas full-text searches turn up every occurrence of designated words in the repository. When the repository contains a large number of documents, the difference between sorting documents by topic and listing every occurrence of a word in the repository— including passing references—is significant in terms of the time required to analyze the search results and locate the desired document(s).
Q. How accurate is OCR?
A. Accuracy on a freshly laser-printed page is typically better than 99.6%. Accuracy on faxed, dirty or degraded documents will be lower, so it is essential that an imaging system have image clean-up technology to improve OCR accuracy.
Q. In which formats can I export documents?
A. It depends on the document management system. Common graphical formats include TIFF Group III, TIFF Group IV, TIFF Raw, BMP, PCX, PNG and JPEG.