In an effort to reduce paper clutter, preserve memories or improve access to documents, are you considering transforming paper into digital files? With a multitude of technologies available, how will you choose the right tool to turn your documents digital?

1. Format
Often the size of the material you wish to transfer will dictate the device(s) you choose to use.  I have used scanners designed specifically for business cards, flatbed scanners – limited by the size of the scanning area, but not the thickness of the material, and most recently, tested two desktop scanners ideal for quickly converting office paperwork. For large format artwork or 3-D pieces, I turn to my camera to capture the creativity in a much more manageable format.

2. Ease of use
No matter the new habit or procedure you are considering adopting, you will be most successful if the process is comfortable to execute, and even better if it is intuitive. Think about the path that the material you wish to scan normally takes. Does it make sense to store items and batch process them, or will that simply create a pile that never gets attended to? Would it be more helpful to scan material as it comes in? Consider how the scanning technology fits in with your process, and the physical space you have available.

3. Speed
How quickly you can scan items will likely play a part in how successful your scanning strategy is. Budgeting for and scheduling time to process the items you choose to transform is critical. Look for technology that not only creates digital files quickly, but also manipulates them into usable, easily-retrievable information.

Before investing in scanning technologies, take some time to think about your specific needs, and look for the technology that serves you best.  In upcoming posts, I’ll take you through some of the features I find valuable with some of the scanning technology I’ve tried.  If you’ve got a favourite tool or found your path to paperless, please share your story here.

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