Friday, December 30, 2011
The PDF/A standard does not define an archiving strategy, but instead identifies a compliant format for electronic documents that ensures they can be reproduced consistently and predictably, in the exact same way, well into the future.
The PDF/A offers users a way to preserve electronic documents in a manner that maintains the documents visual appearance over time, independent of the tools and systems used for creating, storing or rendering the files.
Based on portable document format (PDF) technology from Adobe Systems Inc., PDF/A eliminates PDF features not suited to long-term archival, such as audio, video and transparency.
A vital component to PDF/A reproducibility is that the documents must be 100 percent self-contained. This feature ensures that all information needed to display the document in the same manner every time is embedded in the file. Included in each PDF/A file is all content, including text, raster images and vector graphics; as well as fonts and color information.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
All box content are not equal, consider the following two example;
Box #1 Example
At first glance, Box #1 has about 40 folders and each folder has about 30 sheets of paper (or 1,200 sheets of paper total).
Further, in order to find what you are looking for, each folder must be electronically indexed by say a 7 digit number which might be located on the folder's tab (or 280 characters total).
Finally, in order to get these folders scanner ready (document preparation) assume it will take a SoftFile employee 30 minutes.
Assume the following rate schedule;
Box #1 Example Rate Schedule
Box #2 Example
At first glance, Box #2 has about 2,200 sheets of paper.
If you look really close, there seems to be a staple (a new file or different document) every 20 pages (so there are about 110 individual files).
Further, in order to find what you are looking for, each folder must be electronically indexed by say a 7 digit number which might be located on the folder's tab (or 770 characters total).
Finally, in order to get these folders scanner ready (document preparation) assume it will take a SoftFile employee 1 hour.
Assume the following rate schedule;
Box #2 Example Rate Schedule
In conclusion, a blanket quote of say $150.00 "per box" is really a poor way to quote a large volume document conversion project. This pricing method, although easy for the vendor to quote and for the customer to compute, generally benefits the vendor more than the customer. Further, most boxed document look more like our Box #1 example.
Finally, the more pages per one file (one PDF), generally the less expensive the total project will be.
For more information contact SoftFile at (916) 927-4211 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Plastic cards promote repeat business and customer loyalty. Plastic cards have a higher perceived value than paper cards. All this adds up to a great product for you to offer your customers. This brochure displays SoftFile's line of die cut plastic cards.
Are you looking for a unique die cut design for your loyalty card? SoftFile has it.
Licensing agencies, are you still using paper license cards for your licensees? A licensee cannot realistically keep a paper license with them at all times because they deteriorate rapidly. Your professional licensee deserve a professional looking card. SoftFile offers plastic license cards with customized holograms.
Not only does SoftFile make plastic cards, we will mail them to your members or licensees for you.
This information has been provided by:
Monday, June 27, 2011
A magnetic stripe typically contains three lines or tracks of information such as cardholder name, ID number, address, account number, etc. The third track is usually reserved for the financial industry.
The information contained on the tracks is read by a magnetic stripe reader and transmitted to a computer system for processing.
Different types of cards have different data layouts, depending on the usage. For an example of the data layout on a U.S. drivers license, see the following article:
There are two types of magnetic stripes: high-coercivity (HiCo) and low-coercivity (LoCo). Most commonly you will find that LoCo stripes are light brown, and HiCo stripes are very dark brown (almost black).
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
- Fast, effective search and retrieval of stored information
- Reduces or eliminates paper storage and management
- Eliminates lost or misplaced documents
- Allows for digital workflow of your business processes
- Allows sharing of digital documents among groups or teams
- Having duplicate digital copies ensures business continuity in case of disaster
- Creates a secure digital archive of all information needed for regulatory compliance
Contact a SoftFile document imaging consultant
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Q - How Can a Raster (Scanned Black & White) Image be used Within a CAD Drawing Environment?
A - One of the basic ways in which a raster image (e.g. image of an actual drawing) can be introduced into a CAD package is by importing it in its original graphical format and utilising it as if it were a photo. By doing this the user can plot/print the image with other CAD information on the drawing or actually add other CAD information on top of it. (Check that your CAD software will accept the - importing of a raster/graphic image)
- Use a graphic package to delete selected areas and then import the image into the CAD package for quick manipulation of a raster image on a drawing. Additional items can be added to the deleted areas (e.g. modifications/extensions to a building).
- Raster images can be brought back into their correct scale when imported into the CAD package using the software 'scaling' command normally found in the modify menu of commands.
Q - Is There a Quick Way to Convert a Raster Drawing Image Into a Workable CAD File - (Vectorisation)?
A - Yes, to help convert the raster drawing image into a CAD file there are a number of raster to vector conversion packages on the market.
- A Vector relates to each single drawing entity that makes up a drawing such as a line, arc, circle, etc.
- The raster to vector programs work by trying to identify where complete entities start and finish. By tracking the thousands of dots that may represent an entity (e.g. a line) on the raster drawing image and placing a single vector over the area tracked.
- The Vector image is usually converted to a .DXF/.DWG file format that can be read into most CAD software packages.
- The Vector file produced from the Raster image is then a proper CAD file that can be worked with normally.
Q - What is the Accuracy of the Raster to Vector Conversion?
A - The quality and accuracy first depends on the quality of the original paper image, and the resolution dpi (Dots Per Inch - normally 300 dpi for drawing work).
- All of the image will be converted. However, the percentage that will be useable can vary dramatically and it is most often the case that some manual CAD work will be required.
- Most Raster to Vector conversion programs also allow you to manually tidy up the Raster or Vector image with drawing tools for tracing over the image, or adding to it.
Q - Is There a Quick Way to Convert a Raster Text Image into a Workable Text File?
A - Yes, on the market there are a number of OCR (Optical Character Recognition)software packages that will help convert a Raster text image into text by automatically identifying letters/words.
- Like raster drawing vectorisation the accuracy of conversion depends upon the quality of the original paper image, and usually requires some modification by the user.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
By now, we all know that electronically scanned documents are easier to access than paper. We also know that information is often safer when secured electronically. Considering that some document types need to be retained for a very long period of time, document imaging is a good idea. Yet, these facts alone do not drive an organization towards a document conversion project.
Why do organizations finally decide to scan their documents? SoftFile finds that the following reasons are the most common:
- The organization realizes that there is a solid ROI (Return-On-Investment) in favor of digital versus paper access (mostly in terms of employee labor time searching for documents).
- They need to free up valuable headquarter floor-space but offsite document storage is not an option.
- There is some sort of new legal requirement to scan the documents.
- The organization now has satellite offices making electronic documents hosted securely over the internet more attractive than paper only.
- There is a public safety issue related to the documents; the information needs to be processed and available to the end-user faster.
- To increase customer service.
- Finally and most interestingly, SoftFile finds that sometimes a manager within the organization is just exploring several potential projects to find that document imaging makes the most sense.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
At SoftFile, we can not advocate enough that the document conversion customer should first tour the potential vendor's facility long before the contract is awarded. Let us delve into the various reasons why this is so.
First, there are essentially two types of document conversion service providers out there and they are in separate leagues. The problem is, the customer often does not know which they are talking to. The leagues are;
- Legal copy services
- Professional document conversion service bureau
Both websites from the various companies may lead the customer to believe they are dealing with a large and reputable organization. Which unfortunately, is not always so.
Legal copy service providers are often small companies that provide attorney-type services. For example, when two parties are in a lawsuit, they will call a legal copy service to go in and scan each others records. This is sometimes referred to as 'document discover,' or the like. Typically, the service is provided for on-site and is of a very small volume (e.g. the scanning of a medical record).
Often times, this legal copy service provider (which very often consists of one employee) will respond to a large volume document conversion bid which has been posted online. The problem with this scenario is that the legal copy service provider typically does not have the resources (e.g. manpower) required to fulfill the contract requirements. This problem is not typically discovered until after the award has been issued and the workflow begins to slow. Even if the contract is subsequently canceled, they typically don't care because at least they have generated some revenue that they otherwise would not have.
For your large volume paper to electronic document conversion project, you want to utilize what the document management industry refers to as, a document conversion service bureau.
Often times, the only way for the customer to know which of the two they are dealing with is through a facility tour. The following is what you want to look for at a facility tour;
- First, did the vendor ask you to sign a non-disclosure agreement? After all, during the tour, you may see confidential documentation.
- Did you see evidence of other large volume projects undergoing document conversion?
- Did you see a considerable amount of the vendor's employees doing manual data entry? If not, why not? This would be a red-flag that this same company would ship your digital images offshore for data entry.
- Did you see closed-circuit cameras monitoring all of the the entrance and exit pathways?
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Do you need a ballpark figure for a document imaging project?
Many people call or email SoftFile asking about our price per image.
The reason why a blanket price per image is an inadequate quote is because of the following reasons;
- The time it takes for document preparation (to get documents scanner ready) varies wildly. Sometimes there is no preparation involved, the documents are scanner ready. At other times 1,000 pages can be prepped in an employee hour. Yet at other times the ratio is closer to 500 pages per employee hour.
- What does the image resolution need to be? At 300dpi the actual document scanner is a little slower than at say 200dpi.
- What is the final electronic format; TIFF, PDF, JPG, or PNG?
- What are the data entry requirements (e.g. how are you going to find the scanned files) AND how many pages are each record? Obviously the requirement to capture a first and last name every three pages is a lot more labor than say every 200 pages.
- What is the total volume? Are we talking about 20 boxes or 2,000 boxes?
- Is there a rush? Sometimes customers are in a rush (e.g. a legal case going to trial) and at other times, they are simply scanning the records because of extremely long records retention schedules (7+ years). If the latter is the case, perhaps the customer does not really care if the project takes a week or even six months? Perhaps we would be inclined to charge less knowing that there is no rush.
Collectively, all of the above considerations affect the overall price (including the cost per image) like a stereo equalizer.
All of this said, it might be more revealing to think about a ballpark quotation in terms of the cost per box where at $100 per box the project would be an easy job and $300 might be really complicated.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The unit has a built-in networked PC. For all intents and purposes, the ScanStation is like a scanning kiosk.
For the novice end user, the unit acts very much like a fax machine. Simply walk up
to the unit, stack up to twenty-five sheets of paper and push couple of buttons and you're done.
There are no confusing scanner dialogs, just a few logical choices (e.g. black and white or color).
As the unit is connected to the organization's network, the images are scanned and sent to a pre-specified location on the LAN (a personal folder or a shared drive), as a fax, as an email, over FTP to a specified location (e.g. SoftFile), or to a USB flash drive. As an attachment, you can even include a voice notation if you like.
The Kodak ScanStation 500 retails for about $2,495 and is worth every penny.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Imaging software is a subset of ECM (Enterprise Content Management). Essentially, imaging is the methodology of getting paper into the ECM system (as an electronic document). Often, the two are bundled together as one seamless package (or suite). Other times, they are separate.
For instance, when an organization purchases a COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) ECM system, most of the time, the package includes an imaging component (or module). Common ECM software that includes an imaging module are (partial listing);
- Alchemy (OpenText)
There are some ECM systems that do not provide for an imaging module. Most often, this is the scenario where an organization's IT staff will build their own ECM system. For example, the backend database is SQL or Oracle and the front-end is a website, in order for authorized staff to access the electronic content. Under this, more increasingly common scenario, imaging software needs to be purchased in order to get the paper into an electronic format (e.g. as a TIF or PDF).
When considering the right ECM system for an organization, the actual imaging module (or imaging methodology) is of critical importance. Why? This is because the act of imaging is where considerable labor component exists. Not to mention, the separate requirement for data entry - in order to be able to find the electronically scanned images.
After calculating a ROI (return on investment) many organizations rely upon SoftFile to provide the actual imaging and data entry components. This is because, SoftFile can simply provide imaging for much less than an autonomous approach.
However, if the organization is bent towards the autonomous, do-it-yourself approach, do consider the following. When purchasing an imaging system, before the first page is scanned, 80% of the costs will be for the hardware and software purchases. Conversely 20% of the out of pocket costs will be for applicable maintenance contracts.
Now, after the first page is scanned and everyday forward, 20% of all costs will be for maintenance contracts and the remaining 80% will be on your organizational labor. So, it is critical that your selected imaging system can mitigate labor as much as possible.
In order to mitigate labor costs, your imaging software needs to automate as much as possible. For example, your selected imaging system should be, at a minimum, able to utilize (partial listing);
- Barcode technology
- Including Parent-Child level (sublevel) barcodes
- Full-text OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
- Zonal OCR (template based)
- IMR (Intelligent Mark Recognition)
SoftFile offers ECM consulting. Why not call and benefit from our 23 years of imaging experience.
Friday, February 18, 2011
As SoftFile has worked with numerous federal, state, local public agencies and the general business enterprise environment. We have seen many electronic content management mistakes. Such mistakes might not be noticeable at first, however they can compound over time leading to total ECM failure. These mistakes typically include any of the following (partial listing):
- Not enough document profile fields captured
- No records retention schedule expiration listed
- Use of too many folders (instead of a ECM database)
- Use of students or interns to scan and index documents
Document Profile Fields
Metadata is generally considered the data that is automatically collected when a document is scanned (e.g scan date and file size). Document profile field(s) are those fields that are captured in order to electronically retrieve (look-up) a document. Most records management experts assert that three (3) document profile fields should be captured (in case one or two are collected in error). For example,if you are scanning historical newspaper articles, the document profile fields might be the article's: title, author, date, source.
No Records Retention Schedule Expiration Listed
It is an error to assume that, simply because it has been scanned, an electronic document should be saved forever. We save documents - usually in reaction to some legislative requirement to do so (e.g. a medical record for seven years). Otherwise, if the record is destroyed prior to the legally required retention period, a patient might be able to successfully sue. However, say there is some sort of mistake in the record, if you keep a record longer than you are required to do so and the mistake is discovered in say, year nine - when the record could have been deleted after year seven, you are still legally responsible for what is recorded.
Use of too many folders
Psychologically, the use of electronic folders (and sub-folders) makes us feel comfortable in terms of saving electronic files. However, those same folders often hinder our ability to perform a global search by keyword or phrase. It is important to think in terms of a common database with the use of document profile fields instead of the use of folders and sub-folders.
Use of students or interns to scan and index documents
Really, this is a very bad idea on numerous levels.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
While there might be a hiring freeze, perhaps you will be able to reallocate current resources to the core business service once SoftFile has eliminated your labor intensive bottlenecks.
Such bottlenecks are often paper-processes.
SoftFile realizes that due to the current budget constraints, government departments are being asked to identify ways to reduce expenses.
SoftFile is experienced at using innovative document technology to help government agencies with their business processes.
Our consultant will be able to offer you different options that can reduce the costs associated with your current paper document processes.
Our government services consultants will arrange to visit your office at a convenient time. They will spend up to four hours analyzing your paper processes and gathering information. They will then prepare a report which will offer possible solution options.
What's The Catch?
None, SoftFile has been successful at helping other agencies save money by using technology to improve business process. We believe we can do the same for you. There is absolutely no obligation to purchase anything. We won't pester you with any follow-up phone calls and emails.
What Do I Get?
You will simply receive a written report that you can share with your management detailing ways to improve the current business process. This report will contain two or three practical options to help make your business processes more efficient and less expensive.
What Types of Processes Do You Analyze?
SoftFile specializes in the following areas. Click on the list for more information:
Friday, February 11, 2011
This article discusses the various types of common microfiche.
SoftFile routinely converts all sort of microfiche images into an electronic format.
Most of SoftFile's customers ask SoftFile to convert their microfiche to electronic because they no longer have a microfiche viewer (or don't want one) and because the records retention for the microfiche is probably very long or permanent.
Like all documents that SoftFile scans, microfiche is usually people of property type documents.
About Microfiche Jackets
Both 16MM or 35MM (or a combination of both) can be inserted into a microfiche jacket. The following image illustrates a five channel 16MM microfiche jacket that is partially used.
Microfiche is used instead of a reel of microfilm so that the respective records can be individually unitized. This approach was generally used where the microfiche was to be retrieved by the public. Whereas, using a reel of microfilm (where a reel of 16MM microfilm might contain between 2,000 to 7,500 images per one reel) one would need to scroll through thousands of images before finding the one, six-page record that they were interested in viewing.
This was especially the case where the records were confidential. For example, if you requested to view your personal records, they were often available on microfiche. This is because if on microfilm, you could see someone else's private records.
In addition, microfiche was often updated (where microfilm images might have been added to the same microfiche jacket years later. It is impractical to update a reel of film by splicing in images.
Usually a 16MM microfiche jacket might contain up 65 images per one fiche. Typically a 35MM only microfiche jacket might contain up to six 35MM microfiche images. It is not uncommon to find combo 16MM/35MM microfiche jackets in use at various building authorities (city building division) so that both the microfilm plan sheets and documentation were together on the same microfiche.
|16MM Microfiche||35MM Microfiche||Combo Microfiche|
About 105MM Microfiche
It is not uncommon to come across 105MM microfiche. This is essentially a microfiche with one large image (typically some sort of architectural plan sheet).
About COM (Computer Output Microfiche)
Although in some respects COM looks like any other microfiche, it is quite different.
First, a COM image is much smaller. Whereas in terms of its reduction ratio, a 16MM microfiche image might be a ratio of 24:1 (24X), often a COM image is 52:1 (52X). This means that while most 16MM microfiche might contain up to 65 images maximum per fiche, a COM fiche might contain 240 images!
Also unlike 16MM microfiche, where each image is a photographic miniature (or a photographic negative) of a document, a COM image was never a photograph of a document.
During its inception, computer memory was much more expensive than today. Therefore, instead of printing out mainframe data (to free up expensive memory) the data was sent to COM. At 52X smaller than an 8.5X11 printout, COM was much more manageable than paper. So a COM image is actually just mainframe data, which is organized to resemble a document.
Similarly, UltraCOM was developed which was even smaller than 52X. As computer memory became less expensive, the requirement for COM fell out of popular usage.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
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It is also important to consider the end user. Are the end users simply those in your office? If so, TIF might be a better choice. If not, it will probably be a better idea to go with the PDF selection. Why? This is because (typically) a PDF will open provided that a PDF reader (Adobe's Reader or Acrobat) is already installed on the end user PC (which is very common place). Whereas, it is sometimes a wildcard as to which default program on the end users computer has been associated with a TIF.
Finally, it is important to note that just because you have elected to use a PDF, this DOES NOT mean that the PDF is automatically keyword searchable. The PDF, like a TIF, is still just an image-only. If you desire to search across either the PDF document or the entire repository of PDF documents, you will need to pass each PDF through an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) process.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The document conversion services industry generally charges on a per image basis. This is because once a project is completed, the total quantity of images is easily quantifiable.
This begs the question, how many images do I have?
In trying to determine how many images you have, first calculate the total amount of sheets of paper (8.5" X 14" or smaller) by using the following benchmark.
- For every one foot of paper, assume 2,000 sheets
This means, if full, that a standard sized document storage box (length 15" X width 12" X height 10") is about 2,500 sheets. So, twenty full boxes might contain as much as 50,000 sheets of paper.
This means, if full, that a standard sized four drawer file cabinet (where each drawer is about two feet deep) will contain about 16,000 sheets of paper. So, ten full four drawer file cabinets might contain as much as 64,000 sheets of paper.
While the above calculation does not take into consideration the amount of space used by folders or file separators, it is still a safe assumption none the less.
For example, within one foot of records (on a shelf) if there are ten file separators (that is 200 sheets of paper on average per one file) it is still safe to assume that the total sheet count is about 2,000 sheets. However, if there is a file separator ever ten pages, the cardboard dividers will take up a lot more room. As such the total sheet count might be closer to, say 1,000 sheets of paper.
Of course, once the total sheets of paper have been calculated, the next step is to figure how many images you have. Say you have determined that there are 100,000 sheets of paper. Next, simply determine your estimate in terms of how many of those sheets maintain a backside image. If you determine that about ten percent of the total paper volume maintains a backside image, your total image count is about 110,000 images.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Although a mature technology, OCR is still prone to certain error ratios. Errors are especially prevalent related to historical documentation, that is - recordation not generated by high quality print devices (e.g. a laser printer). As such, recordation originating from typewriters and dot-matrix style printers do not "OCR" well. Analog media such as microforms (e.g. aperture cards, microfilm and microfiche) do not generally respond well to an OCR process.
Generally, the error ratio originating from a high quality print device is generally acceptable to most end-users.
Optical Character Recognition should not be confused with electronic content re-mastering of a document, which includes laborious OCR clean-up in order to restore a scanned document to Microsoft Word or other native document format.
Zonal OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is a subset of full text OCR. Where full-text OCR attempts to capture the entire text of a scanned document, zonal OCR is software instructions to capture content from designated 'zones,' where required data should appear on standardized forms.
In some instances (the original paper is from a high quality print device), Zonal OCR can be used instead of manual data entry.
- Electronic Content Management (ECM)
- Electronic Content Management System (ECMS)
- Electronic Document Management (EDM)
- Electronic Document Management System (EDMS)
Within certain industry verticals or specific document types, for example healthcare, this same system might be called an Electronic Health Record (EHR) or Electronic Health Record system.