There are two significant steps required when digitizing your company’s filing system. The first is to find and implement a powerful and feature-rich document management system and use it to create, store, and collaborate on any new files. The second step—considerably more difficult to tackle—is to go back through drawers upon drawers of paper files and scan them into the digital DMS.
Many businesses either put off digitizing their files indefinitely or never completely make the transition, simply due to the obstacles involved. Not only does scanning paper files into a DMS require a very, very long time, but some document management software offers very little benefit from digitizing old files. Sure, even the most basic DMS that allows for scanning files into the system and getting rid of old filing cabinets saves storage space. But one of the biggest draws of using a truly effective DMS is being able to find files through a full-text search function. Not even document management software can read the text of document scans like they can with files that were created digitally. Right?
Actually, that isn’t necessarily true. While some low-quality open-source document management systems might not be able to run text searches of digitized files, other DMS programs—such as eFileCabinet—can offer that advanced capability.
Introducing Optical Character Recognition
One of the features of eFileCabinet is a technology called OCR, or optical character recognition. With OCR, you have the capability to scan old documents and digitize them more effectively, so that your computer system actually understands the letters and words being used in those documents. The goal of this technology is to make it possible for users to search for specific words or phrases within their document library. With OCR, those searches don’t just apply to documents you created digitally, but also to files that you scanned into the system.
Normally, scanning a document into your computer simply creates an image of that file. Just as your computer can’t understand text in photographs, it can’t read the text in a document scan. OCR technology analyzes your document scans, recognizing different letters or characters optically, and then tells the eFileCabinet DMS which words or phrases are contained in those documents.
Scanning Documents with eFileCabinet
To find the OCR features in your eFileCabinet system, select the “Administration” tab at the top of the page and then look on your toolbar for the OCR section. Click “OCR Settings” to open an OCR menu. By default, the box at the top of the menu that reads “Enable OCR” should be checked, but tick the box if it isn’t.
Now you’re ready to start scanning documents into eFileCabinet and searching them with the OCR text recognition technology. You’ll need two things to carry out this procedure: a piece of hardware capable of scanning documents and eFileCabinet’s proprietary scanning software, eFileScanner. Once you’ve installed eFileScanner, all of your scans should load directly into the utility. If you have any problems getting your scanner and the scan utility to work together, there is a possibility that the scanner you are using is not compatible with the drivers used by the eFileScanner utility. Click here to learn how to fix any incompatibility issues.
Once your scanner and the eFileScanner utility are working in harmony, you should be able to click the “Scan” button at the top of the utility to easily digitize your files into the utility. Keep in mind that eFileScanner is merely an add-on utility and not part of the eFileCabinet DMS. To send your scans into the actual document management system, just click the “Store” button and select the cabinet, drawer, and folder where you want to store the new file.
Using OCR to Search for Files in eFileCabinet
Once you’ve loaded your newly scanned files into the eFileCabinet DMS, you will want to make sure that OCR is working properly. To test the functionality of the text recognition software, select a search word from one of the documents you just scanned—preferably a word that isn’t used frequently in your company’s files.
Once you’ve chosen a search word, click on the “Advanced” tab on your eFileCabinet search bar. This action will bring up a window where you can set the parameters for your search. You should see a spot in the upper half of the window where you can specify whether you want to search for drawers, folders, or files. Check the box next to “Files,” then type your search word into the blank field next to “Full text search in files.” Finally, click the “Search” button.