To Back-scan or Not to Back-scan: That is the Question


For any company going through a document management overhaul that involves moving to a predominantly electronic content management system, there is one looming question—do we back-scan all of our past documents?

What is back-scanning?

Back-scanning is the process of digitizing all physical paper documents by going “back” and “scanning” every essential material in a company’s possession. This process allows the company to have a completely digital version of their database.

Why might I not back-scan my documents?

Your company may be dedicated to a future with many fewer paper documents—allowing for the ability to easily search, share, and organize files from the comforts of a computer with access to a relevant database. Though you’re dedicated to a future of electronic document management doesn’t necessarily mean you need to back-scan the past. Here’s why not:

  • It may not make sense to back-scan if you don’t regularly interact with past documents, but instead only need to maintain possession of them for legal or “just in case” reasons.
  • Back-scanning is an arduous process, requiring many worker hours or shelling out large sums to a third-party document imaging specialist company.
  • There’s no need to disrupt the storage of these physical documents, as the necessary filing cabinets are not taking up space needed for other purposes.

Why would I want to back-scan my documents?

There are occasions when your company may want to go ahead and back-scan all documents whenever moving to a more computerized document management system.

  • Your company has to regularly access past documents in a timely fashion and/or transfer them to a customer or other third party.
  • Your company is committed to becoming completely paperless. While this is a drastic step for any company, it would necessitate a completely back-scanned document library.
  • Your company can no longer physically store these documents due to space, legal, security concerns.

Why to Scan Some & Not Others

The decision to back-scan or to not back-scan certain documents does not have to be an all-or-nothing decision. Many companies may choose to back-scan documents relevant to certain a date in the past. Others may opt to only back-scan documents based on their frequency of use or other specific criteria.