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What is a digital mailroom?

Adrian Bruce, Storetec Services, explains what a digital mailroom is and how it can help your business.

A digital mailroom is a cheaper, space-saving way to manage your physical mail. Here’s how our digital mailroom services works: 

  1. We set up a PO Box and direct your inbound mail to it. 
  2. We open and sort your mail according to the specification and workflow. Whether you need it sorting by department or document type. 
  3. We scan the document and attach a unique reference to it to help you identify what type of mail it is. 
  4. We let you know when we’ve uploaded the document to our secure online hosting system, FreeDocs, so you can log in and view it. 
  5. We send an email to the relevant person or people in your department to let them know today’s mail is in their inbox. 
  6. You can also use FreeDocs to approve and forward the digital mail to wherever and whoever you need to.

Do I need to keep my documents? What happens once they're scanned?

The video above explains about the retention of documents and how we destroy documents once they have been scanned.

Very few of your documents need to be kept. In fact, 98% of what we scan is destroyed afterwards. 

HMRC are very happy with scanned documents, as long as they’ve been digitised in the right way. You need to keep your documents in a system with an audit control, so you can see exactly who’s accessed them. They also need to be in an unalterable state. 

We appreciate this can be a big leap of faith if you’ve never scanned your documents before. That’s why we offer a set 30-day standstill period after we’ve scanned a document. We often extend this to 90 days when handling sensitive data like patient records.

Will my information be safe with you?

Yes, we’re fully compliant with data protection. We have non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements in place with all of our staff and clients. And our secure logins make sure only the people you want to see certain information can see it.

What are the benefits of digitising my document?

Document scanning saves your business time, money and space. It can also boost your efficiency. Your accounts department, for example, will be able to access purchase invoices almost instantly and answer queries on the back of them much quicker.

Another big benefit is disaster recovery. The statistics on companies affected by fire and flooding are horrific. And there are very few businesses who manage to continue working efficiently afterwards. By digitising your paper archive, you’ll make sure you can access your important documents whatever happens. 

Can scanned files be separated and searched easily?

Adrian Bruce at Storetec explains how the team at Storetec can scan your documents and make them searchable.

We can separate the files and create individual documents at preparation stage to create the individual documents. Or we can add OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to the document so we can search within it.

With a fully OCR’d document, we can pick a piece of text from it, or even within the entire database in certain systems. Or we can search for a particular reference you’ve requested.

We can also apply Zone OCR, which helps us search and find a regular expression within a document. 

What sort of clients do you have and how quickly can they access a document?

We work with all kinds of clients in all sorts of sectors. From legal, financial and manufacturing, to healthcare, education and local government. 

If the client’s documents are hosted on our FreeDocs system, they can access them in seconds. How quickly we send back scanned PDFs will depend on the reference the client gives us. 

What should I consider when scanning a document?

Adrian Bruce talks us through what to consider when scanning a document.

You need to think about what you want and need from the document, and what you’re eventually going to do with it. 

How hi-res do you need it to be? 

Do you want it in black and white or colour? 

Are there specific pieces of information you need us to capture? 

Do you need us to host it so you can access it quickly in the cloud?

What does DPI mean?

DPI means Dots Per Inch. It’s used in scanning to reference how much detail is being picked up by a scanner.

The standard for document imaging has always been 200 DPI. But if capture is used, 300 DPI would be more suitable. Anything above this is usually overkill for documents.

Should I scan in colour?

This depends on what you’re scanning.

If you’re scanning business documents, there’s little need to scan in colour. Unless there are a lot of photos or the content isn’t clearly showing up in Black & White (B&W) mode.

B&W saves a lot of disk space. A page of A4 in mono is only around 45K, so a 4-drawer filing cabinet would be around 750MB in disk space saved as a TIFF. Colour would be 24 times bigger. 

Can you OCR?

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is the process of reading the text on a scanned page. The text is searchable inside a PDF document, or can be exported into an editable form like a Word document.

A document scanner is essentially a high-speed camera: it only creates images of the pages. The high-end software we use has an OCR facility. 

Can you separate files while scanning?

Yes, we use high-end scanners matched with the right software that support this.

What is a Patch Code?

A Patch Code is a sheet of paper for separation during scanning.

Most scanners that support these (including Kodak and IBML) will provide PDF files of the Patch Codes to slip between the files to separate. This then enables batch scanning. 

How are barcodes used in scanning?

Barcodes can be used to separate pages and name files when scanning. Our scanning applications will recognise a range of barcodes, including 2D barcodes like PDF417 and QR codes.

Can you scan large format plans or drawings?

Yes, we have a fleet of large format scanners. These will generally scan A0 or even 44 inches wide. We can also scan in mono or full colour.

What’s the cheapest way to scan a book?

The cheapest way to scan a book would be to cut the spine out and run it through a document scanner. But if your book is precious and you need to keep it intact, you have a few other choices such as overhead optical scanning.

Our overhead optical scanner can scan books without any damage to the originals. 

Can you capture data from the scans?

Yes, this is called Zonal OCR. It works well when you want to scan documents you have control over, like your own PODs.

Can you scan invoices and get the data off?

Yes, we use software that looks for information on the page then lifts it out.

The key thing here is finding the labels. Once we find a label on the page, we can find a value near it. When we find the value, we can export it. 

Can you provide a digital mailroom?

Yes. This is the term we use for larger organisations that have their morning post scanned, recognised and sorted automatically.

The components of a digital mailroom are capture, recognise, route, notify and archive. This works really well in businesses that deal with a huge amount of inbound daily post, like finance, insurance and local government organisations. Return on investment can be very quick too.

Is storing my documents with you cheaper than storing them in my office?

Yes, almost certainly. Your office is designed to be a pleasant working environment, but our warehouse is designed for the efficient storage of documents and with several state-of-the-art document storage facilities, we have the capacity to store any number of boxes for you.

What kind of organisations do you deal with?

Anyone who needs us. We work with large and small organisations, in both the public and private sectors. Our clients are varied and include local authorities, accountants, banks, NHS organisations, pharmaceutical companies and aerospace companies.

Where are your clients based?

Our clients are based all over the UK. We also support worldwide projects.

How quickly can I access a document when it’s urgent?

Within one hour or less. We’ll find, scan and securely upload the document to our cloud-based document management system, FreeDocs, so you can access it anywhere in the world.

What kind of documents can you scan?

We scan almost anything. From tickets, invoices and receipts, to legal files, cheques and barcode labels.

We are trying to go green: can you help?

Yes. Moving an electronic document around a network uses a lot less energy than moving a box of paper documents around in a van, for example.

The benefits far outweigh the investment with immediate advantages, including:

  • Cut the cost of unnecessary storage
  • Avoid the risk of losing or misplacing documents
  • Save time looking for files
  • Boost customer service

Can you scan microfilm or microfiche?

Yes, we’ve years of experience in digitising microfilm and microfiche.

What will you do with our files at the end of the scanning project?

We’ll either return the documents to your office, securely destroy them or store them for as long as you need us to.

Can I get my electronic documents named?

Yes, we can index your documents using one or multiple fields of information. Whether you need them sorting by dates, references or company names.

Is it better for us to scan our documents in-house or to outsource it?

This depends on your needs and volumes.

If you have small volumes of documents, it’s probably best to do it yourself on a small desktop scanner.

If you have large volumes of documents (i.e. many thousands), it’s best to outsource to a professional scanning company.

We use high quality, high-spec scanners, which generate excellent image quality and keep costs down due to their speed.

You also benefit from our quality assurance procedures and ISO quality standards. These take time, money and training to implement in-house.

What if I don’t have time to sort through my documents?

Don’t worry, we can handle everything. From collecting, re-boxing and delivering the documents, to removing the staples and creases before scanning.

How can I be sure my data is in good hands?

We understand how sensitive and confidential your data is. But let us assure you, your data will be in safe hands at Storetec.

We deal with sensitive data on a regular basis. And all our staff have gone through a positive vetting procedure, as well as signing a non-disclosure agreement that covers them for life. 

How much will it cost to have my documents digitised?

We offer a FREE, no-obligation quote. One of our consultants will visit you to go through your needs, our prices and the legal admissibility for the documentation audits we carry out. We can also answer questions and deal with any concerns you may have at this time.

If we were to give you a quotation over the phone instead, it may not be as accurate. In fact, we could end up giving you a price that’s too high. But if we can see the physical documents in question, you could end up paying less than first thought.

Remember, all documents differ. So the cost depends on a variety of things, including quality, size and volume. 

How do I know how many pages I have?

Typically, a full lever arch file will contain 250-300 pages. A standard archive box will hold around 2250 pages. A 4-drawer filing cabinet holds approximately 10,000 pages.

Will I need to keep the original documents?

HM Revenue & Customs and the courts accept electronic scanned images. Providing you can prove all documents have been scanned, managed and stored with ‘due care and diligence’.

As long as you have the correct procedures to scan and/or store your documents yourself, or have a professional and reputable company that digitise your documents for you, legal admissibility allows the originals to be destroyed.

The British Standard Guidelines for Legal Admissibility of Data Stored Electronically sets out the requirements and procedures for compliance with the Act, which Storetec follows.