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Best Practices for Document Scanning in the Energy Industry – Part 2

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In last week’s blog post, we shared several best practices to help you overcome the challenges of scanning energy records. These included: how to determine the best approach to the scan and the importance of cleaning up your physical files.

This week, we continue to share our expertise in energy imaging, looking at best practices for resourcing, document security and more.

Make sure you have the right resources on hand

It is extremely important to ensure that your imaging project is supported with the right resources – and to have a clear understanding of the impact resourcing will have on your organization.

  • Staff: If you plan to conduct the scanning project with existing staff, it is important to understand the degree to which this might interfere with their regular duties. Depending on the volume of records and the indexing requirements, imaging projects can take months if not years. And it isn’t just a re-focus of their time and energy, it is also the fact that they will need to be fully trained and properly managed for your project to be successful. As you think through these requirements and the impact that they will have, remember that outsourcing is a viable alternative that can be highly cost-effective when all factors are taken into account.
  • Dedicated Project Space: It is critical to set aside sufficient space to conduct the scan in an orderly fashion. On average, each member of the scanning team requires roughly 200 square feet, which includes room for a workstation, a file staging area, carts and all the necessary equipment.
  • Equipment: Producing a good quality image and ensuring it is indexed accurately and distributed correctly is dependent on having the right scanning equipment and software in place. The right software creates the ability to automate as much of the technology processes as possible and greatly reduces human error.

Establish policies & procedures and train your staff

To ensure a smooth scanning process, it is essential to establish clear policies and procedures for the scanning team. For instance, take a file with a DVD or a jump drive in it. Obviously this can’t be scanned, so the proper procedure in this case needs to be established. Or think about gas charts which are round, or colored large plats that exceed the size limitation of a standard production scanner. By specifying exactly what to do in these unusual cases, you are able to avoid confusion and inconsistent approaches to the scanning process. Training staff on the correct policies and procedures ensures that files are being scanned the right way every time.

Establish chain-of-custody and file tracking

Handling important business records during the scanning process introduces a certain amount of risk. This makes it very important to establish an audit trail of file activities, showing who touched each document from the time it was picked up to the actual scan and beyond. File tracking software is the best tool to use for this purpose, providing both accountability and control.

Put tools in place to provide access to documents during the process

For imaging projects of any scale, you need to ensure that the information necessary for daily operations is accessible at all times throughout the process. A well-defined project plan and an understanding of deadlines are required to ensure access to information is not interrupted, especially when considering the due diligence requirement inherent to litigation scenarios or a divestiture or acquisition.

Several tools can be incorporated into the project to guarantee access and full visibility for the various stakeholders. These include:

  • Planned departmental or category processing with timeline expectations. For instance, you can process certain states, counties, prospects and even wells in a specific order to ensure there is no interference with reviews or due diligence processes.
  • Mass communication or notification about the scan schedule for specific departments.
  • Create a shared office for the project in order to offer full visibility into project progress, status, questions & answers, and reporting.
  • “Scan-on-Demand”, in which a tool similar to file tracking software is used to ensure seamless access to all data for end users and all stakeholders.

Deal with physical documents appropriately after the scan

There are several factors to consider when deciding the most appropriate way to handle physical documents when the scanning process is complete:

  • Will the physical files be going to active or inactive storage?
  • How frequently will they need to be accessed?
  • Are your end users comfortable saying good-bye to paper records?
  • What does the law say about the format of official records? In some cases, the physical document must be retained as the official record.

As intimidating as an energy imaging project might seem, it can be quite manageable by employing the best practices outlined in our last two posts. Another key success factor to consider is experience. When energy companies need assurance that their imaging project is a success, they often seek the expert guidance and assistance of an outside organization with specific experience in the energy industry.

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