How to Estimate Costs for a Document Imaging Project – Part One

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When planning a document imaging project it can be very difficult to get an accurate picture of what it will cost the organization. This is to be expected given the number of resources involved – both human and physical – and the (often) enormous scale of scanning projects.

However, even though a cost estimate may be difficult to obtain, it is no less essential at the start of an imaging project. The estimate helps with the important first question of whether to tackle the project in house or whether it would be more economical to outsource it to a document imaging service provider. Accurate cost estimates will also help you avoid unpleasant surprises as the project unfolds.

This two-part blog post takes you through all the various elements of an imaging project to help you accurately establish scope and cost.

Start with the basics

Obtaining accurate cost estimates starts with getting a good handle on the project scope. To start scoping the project, we recommend getting all the key details together in one place. This list should include the number of files and documents to be scanned, the type and size of documents, and the target project completion date. It may require some digging to obtain this information but it will be worth the effort.

The scanning equipment

When estimating the cost of scanning equipment, you will need to think about several things:

  • The cost of the scanning equipment itself: how many scanning machines you’ll need and what type, how many barcode scanners, computers and carts
  • Any potential maintenance or repair costs during the project
  • The costs of related consumable items such as bar code sheets or toner

The staff

When you know the number of scanners available, you can start to estimate the cost of the staff required to carry out the project. For the team conducting the scanning, you’ll need to allow time for:

  • the actual scanning process
  • document preparation (removing staples, repairing damage, etc.)
  • file reassembly and re-filing
  • entry of metadata
  • quality checks

In addition to the scanning staff, you also need to factor in time for staff such as project managers, database administrators, and supervisors. If you are running the project with many scanning machines or across multiple departments, the supervisory and management staff will have to play a greater role.

If you are currently planning to work with in-house staff, you will also need to think about the potential costs of staff members spending time away from their usual duties.

In next week’s blog post we’ll look at more elements of a document imaging project and offer guidance on how to attach costs to those.

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