November 9, 2018 by Greg Meckbach
Brokers moving towards a paperless office should watch how much time their staff spend scanning documents.
“There is a big difference between scanning for personal use and scanning for business,” said Steve Oblin, senior marketing manager for Fujitsu Canada Inc.’s Imaging Group.
In an interview this past Wednesday, Oblin offered three tips for brokers wanting to manage their documents electronically instead of in filing cabinets.
Recreate your paper files on the computer
“Create your own little digital hierarchy of folders and sub folders that mimic what you have in paper,” Oblin said.
If you are scanning paper documents, “file them away electronically the same way that they have been physically for all these years.”
Some insurance brokers are moving towards a paperless office, but you will probably never become completely paperless, said Oblin.
“As long as you are interacting with other organizations that are not paperless, they are going to be sending paper to you that you are going to have to scan and get into your paperless workflow,” he said.
This is especially true for personal lines brokers.
“It might sound surprising to some of us, but not everybody has access to a computer or even has Internet.”
Quoting Statistics Canada, Oblin said about 85% of Canadian households have a computer and about 85% of Canadian households have Internet access.
This means the other 15% may have no choice but to send paper documents in by snail mail.
“They could always go to the library or something like that, but if you don’t have a computer at home you are probably not comfortable typing that level of confidential information on a shared public computer,” said Oblin.
Consider reliability when shopping for a scanner
“If you have a scanner that frequently jams or has poor image quality or maybe has a higher failure rate – there are some hard costs associated with that down time,” said Oblin.
It’s one thing if you are scanning your own personal papers for your own personal use.
“If you are a professional in a business environment, you are paying somebody to scan. You will want to make sure that person is working as effectively or as efficiently as possible.”
Other ways of improving efficiency include buying a scanner that crops images to the correct size, gets rid of blank pages when scanning multi-page documents straightening out images that are crooked.
Choose a scanner that cleans up images
“The cleaner the image the smaller the file size,” said Oblin. “If you have a lot of stray dots and random information caused by page wrinkles or imperfections in the paper, that just really bumps up the file size.”
Last week, Oblin met with the president of a company in charge of several insurance brokerage offices. That brokerage firm uses a cloud service that charges by the Gigabyte to store electronic documents.
“I was quite surprised by her comment as to how much of an issue storage was for them. If she is able to reduce her file size by half then all of a sudden the monthly storage requirements are cut down.”
Oblin did not have permission from the brokerage president to identify her to the press.
Having a scanner that automatically detects whether an image is black-and-white or colour is another way to reduce the file size, said Oblin.
Some brokerages are almost entirely paper-based, Oblin observed.
“It’s usually older brokers who may be getting close to retirement, they have had a process in place for maybe 30, 40 years and they are not necessarily looking to implement a totally new workflow at this stage.”