The Economics of Imaging
Digital imaging is a win-win solution for businesses that need to find a cost effective way to manage their business records and hiring people with developmental disabilities to do imaging work contributes to the success of this business venture. Learn about the savings, the benefits, and the future of digital imaging from government and private sector businesses that have hired people with developmental disabilities in digital imaging positions.
Document imaging is here, and more and more records are now maintained with digital computer files.
That's particularly true for storing documents.
Whether to move into document imaging or not seems to be less of a question now, but how to do so most efficiently.
Blue Earth was among the first Minnesota counties to begin an aggressive program, as Humans Services Director, Bob Meyer, explains:
And so there was an investment in equipment that arrived in our department, but as we looked around to try and find human resources to actually do the document imaging, we found that our staff was already committed to other projects, and so we had to look at other options to try and accomplish that task.
And so we checked with one of our partners, MRCI, to see whether they had work crews that could accomplish that task.
So they've really taken a backlog of documents that we wanted to get into electronic format and utilize in our business, and they've been able to get those images into a system where we can get ready access to that information.
Administration Commissioner, Dana Badgerow, came to state government with an impressive record in private industry, including a career as a senior executive with Honeywell, and she thinks the time for document imaging has come.
One of the biggest elements of cost is space, and as you can see here, I'm standing in front of just a fraction of the file cabinets in our department.
We are awash in paper in state government, and I know that business is as well.
So if we can somehow reduce the amount of space being taken up just simply by paper-storage boxes, and file cabinets, we have an enormous ability to reduce our cost structure.
And it's a wonderful example because they were able to hire 16 of their clients, developmentally disabled people, to come in a wonderful digital imaging project and reduce all of that paper to a mere fraction of its space and store it all electronically.
Tom Polacek of Trendex, Inc. found employing people with developmental disabilities was a sound, strategic decision.
It's been working great for us.
We've been doing it about 6 months now, and we have scanned everything back through, almost through 2003.
We have about 30,000 documents already scanned in the system.
That's 30,000 files, not 30,000 sheets, so we're quite pleased.
When I did that, nobody here could believe that it would actually save that amount of money.
Last summer we bought another company, and we brought all their files here and all their customer service, all their orders here to Trendex, and it dramatically increased the amount of paperwork we were going to have, and we were very short on space, and so that was the trigger that caused us to decide we needed to start scanning these documents and get rid of all the file cabinets.
He drew on his private sector experience and social worker background for a solution.
I think the individuals we worked with so far are developmentally disabled.
And our goal was to try to get caught up, quite honestly.
We didn't have the ability to hire staff.
I thought it might be an opportunity to try something new, and so at that time, we contracted with a couple of individuals to help us with our imaging.
Now, it's been a work in progress.
I think part of the issue was making sure we found some people who enjoyed the job, and this was a good work environment for them.
Amazingly since that time we started in corrections, our corrections department — we never thought we'd ever get caught up — we are caught up, and in fact, because of the work of the individuals that we've got, we're starting work in other areas, and we're starting to think about imaging in a whole new way,
The advantages of converting files to digital records are undeniable, and part of the impetus goes beyond space savings to customer service.
So we have to go find the box in a huge sea of boxes or file cabinets, bring that file box in and research it, whereas with a digital imaging system, often times you can use scanning techniques or other methods to bring that information up in an instant, really a few clicks of the mouse.
Bob Meyer of Blue Earth County kept track of the numbers.
Commissioner Badgerow doesn't think so.
One needs only to be committed to doing it, recognizing the issue, and committed to doing, and then, being aware of the availability of this enormously talented workforce.
Paul Fleissner has a vision of what he would like to see.
We've been imaging records from the past.
Now we're trying to think of ways of how do we image information as it comes in, get it to that social worker or that probation officer's computer as it's coming in the door rather than at the back end, and we never handle all that paper.
And so I think, as the government looks to solutions of the future, as business does, imaging is going to be an important tool in being more efficient, more effective, and doing more with less staff, which is the model of the day.
This video was produced in May 2006 for the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities by The Wallace Group.
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