For energy companies, document imaging offers a number of potential benefits, including greater operational efficiency, improved risk management and streamlined acquisitions and divestitures.
However, document imaging projects in the energy industry come with unique challenges that organizations in other industries don’t have to contend with. TAB has been fortunate to work with dozens of energy companies over the years so we understand these unique challenges. In a two-part blog post we will share what we have learned, offering nine best practices to help make your energy imaging project a success.
Preparation is key
Before embarking on a document imaging project, it is important that you get clear answers the following questions:
- What is driving your project and why?
- What are your desired project outcomes? For example: risk management, improved compliance, litigation, and ease of access.
- What are your end-user requirements?
- What industry and legislative requirements must be met?
In looking at these answers, it helps to consider specific types of records. For example, lease information: who in the organization uses that information? How do they use it?
Determine which level of scanning is required
There is more than one way to approach document imaging. The three basic approaches to consider are:
- File-level scanning: This is a very basic approach which is usually performed with legacy files that are accessed less frequently. The entire contents of a file (which may include multiple documents) are scanned as a single image. Optical character recognition is used to enable reading of the file contents. Indexing and categorization are not performed with file-level scanning.
- Category-level scanning: This is performed by scanning category dividers within a file, as well as the actual documents within each category. Each file will therefore be electronically separated into categories, enabling easier document retrieval.
- Document level scanning: This is the most granular form of energy imaging, in which each document is scanned as its own PDF file. In these cases, it is critical to attached data points to each electronic file in order to facilitate search and retrieval.
When deciding on the appropriate level of scanning, it helps to consider the overall goals of the imaging project and how often the information will be used. Costs come into play as well. The more detailed the scan, the more time and money will be required to perform the imaging, indexing and tagging.
Conduct a file audit before scanning
Scanning redundant or misfiled documents can add a significant amount to the cost of the project and hamper the successful migration to electronic documents. A file audit involves reviewing the contents of each file to ensure that irrelevant materials are removed and that the information in each file is correct and filed in the right place.
Establish clear rules and guidelines for the imaging process
It is very important to follow records management principles when imaging energy records. In order to ensure that this is done, it is important to provide the imaging team with clear rules and guidelines for carrying out the scan.
These guidelines should cover:
- What constitutes an original vs. a copy
- Rules relating to document signatures and recording
- Capturing required dates (signed vs. effective vs. notarized)
Rules for processing less critical documents such as correspondence (emails, faxes, cover letters, receipts, etc.)
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when planning a document scanning project in the energy industry. And we’re not done yet! Check back next week when we offer up more best practices relating to project resourcing, policies and procedures, information access and more.