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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

What are the Benefits of Document Scanning and Indexing?

What are the Benefits of Document Scanning and Indexing?

Most websites include search functionalities, where you can type the words you want to search, and it results with a list of pages that includes these words. If you are developing a small or medium-sized application, you don't want to pay thousands of dollars for a full-text search tool to implement this feature. Many free solutions allow adding this functionality to your application and Microsoft Indexing service is one such service. Before proceeding further, let us explore the basics of document scanning and indexing.

What is Document Scanning and Indexing?

Document scanning and indexing captures details from paper documents and converts it into digital formats for ease of storage, search, retrieval, and use.

Today’s scanners have the capacity to scan thousands of pages of paper daily, transferring information from a large bundle of paper to digital, typically as PDF, TIFF or JPEG files. Scanning software with optical character recognition capabilities process the image files and pull out the required information. Indexing software optimizes text for search by identifying and categorizing documents and applying further search criteria to obtain an accurate result.

Easier Document Management with Indexing

At first glance, indexing can sound unimportant, since the title and content of a document do an adequate job of describing it. However, indexing metadata makes your documents easier to access and manage in the following ways:

  • When you properly use metadata, each document will be able to be grouped with similar ones based on the keywords used.
  • It streamlines your ability to manage your documents by readily identifying which document belongs to a certain group.
  • It also makes it easier to organize large volumes of documents based on specific categorizations that would have otherwise required you to search through each individual document to define. 

For example: 

  • For invoices, indexing fields can include invoice number, vendor name, vendor ID, PO number, invoice date, and line item information.
  • For the student or medical records, index fields can include the student/patient ID, name, DOB, SSN, etc.
  • For insurance claims, index fields can include a policy number or locator number, provider, document control number, image control number (unique claim number) in addition to all patient information along with medical records.

Why do you need to Index your Documents?

As you might imagine, document indexing offers quite a few benefits to businesses of all sizes. One of the biggest advantages of Microsoft Indexing Service is that it's totally free. The seven most important benefits are as follows:

  1. Storage: Storing hard copy documents requires space, and that space cannot be used for anything else. Indexing documents in a digital system require only as much storage space as necessary for the storage medium (generally just a computer).
  2. Access: Accessing stored hard copy files can take days. That’s particularly true if your records are stored offsite. Digital document indexing ensures that you can find the file you need in minutes.
  3. Decision Making: Often, critical decisions must be made based on information contained in stored documents. If you’re unable to locate your document, or it takes days to access it, your decision-making is delayed. This can cause negative effects on your company. Digital document indexing speeds up your decision-making process exponentially.
  4. No Manual Searching: Locating stored hard copies requires manual searching. Someone must access the file area and then invest their valuable time digging through the mess. With digitally indexed documents, you can easily find the document you need through a text-based search.
  5. Information Flow: Hard copy documents slow down the flow of information through your business, affecting every aspect of your company. With digital document indexing, that information flows at the speed of electrons.
  6. Knowledge/Information Preservation: Paper documents don’t last for a long period. Many things can damage or destroy them. Each lost document is knowledge and data that you no longer have. Document indexing protects that invaluable information.
  7. Better Collaboration: Collaboration between various departments and management teams in your business is vital, but it can be difficult if you’re relying on paper documents. Digital documents are easily shared, easily transferred and easily viewed, ensuring that everyone can be on the same page at the same time.

Besides these benefits, while choosing Microsoft Indexing Service, you should remember that it could only index file systems. Files that are stored in a database file blob can’t be indexed using Microsoft Indexing Service.

Document indexing offers a long-term solution to the problems of document storage, organize, protection, and access. Any company, regardless of size or industry, should leverage document indexing to gain those substantial benefits.

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