Paperless office continued (Part II)

The project continues apace.

The ScanSnap S1500 has proved to be as good as the commentators on the web said it would be. it scans really quickly, takes different sized paper in its stride, scans duplex automatically and ignores if the side is blank, and is easy to clear blockages from when I forget to take out a stapler. An excellent buy for anyone else looking for a small business scanner. It even folds up really small when not in use and opens like the petals of a flower when needed.

ScanSnap closed

Closed

ScanSnap open

Open

While waiting for the scanner to be delivered I began thinking about how I was going to organize the scanned pages. I looked for some open source document management software I could play with, but nothing really took my fancy. So I decided to leave it until I began scanning and worked the issue out in practice. As it has turned out I haven’t needed separate software but more about that later.

I also researched some PDF readers (the scanner automatically creates PDF documents from the scanning process) for my iPad which I had concluded was going to have to start carrying some of the load in the business if I was going to change my role as pack animal carrying paper everywhere. †There seem to be numerous apps out there for reading PDFs, some free and some paid, but having downloaded a few free ones, I’ve found, to date, that the free reader from Adobe is as good as any. I experimented with transferring files to and from the iPad and it all worked like a dream. Unfortunately the iTunes interface only allows the uploading of individual files rather than whole folders (although you can upload multiple highlighted files), and doesn’t allow you to manipulate the files and folders or upload to specific folders. So I had to use the Adobe app to create folders and sub-folders and then move the PDF files around on the iPad.

Once the scanner arrived and I had loaded the software from CD (including Adobe X Standard), and then updated it online (my recently purchased HP printer did it all for itself over my internet connection which is something Fujitsu might want to think about introducing), I could begin scanning.

I picked up the first Client file and started going through the paper and working out how I would deal with its contents when it was converted to an electronic file and made decisions as follows:

  1. Emails I had printed and which existed in the Client folders in Outlook, I decided I could shred without a problem
  2. Documents produced by me and already in the Client folders in Dropbox could similarly be shredded without a problem
  3. Handwritten attendance notes I scanned in and fully described in the file name so that I could find them again and would mostly know what they contained before I opened them.
  4. Similarly, with letters and documents supplied to me by my Client or others, I stored them in folders and sub-folders within Dropbox and used the file name to describe the contents and any relevant dates.
  5. I decided not to scan my notebooks in which I had made notes each time I met with the Client. Going forward I may well scan pages as I go after meetings, but the task seemed too daunting to go through all of the historical records now.

I found that I had several copies of basic texts which I used with each Client, such as the Lexcel Standard, the Code of Conduct, CQS applications and explanatory notes. So I destroyed each one and put the up to date versions from the Law Society and SRA web sites onto my iPad. Whether these are as usable as the paper versions is yet to be seen and the subject of the next blog.

Because I used a folder structure in Dropbox, I have decided that I don’t really need any form of document management software. That decision will need to be reviewed as I try to find stuff going forward. I’ll deal with this in subsequent blog posts.