Model, what the heck does that mean?
In traditional scanning and capture, there are 3 well recognized scanning models: centralized, decentralized and distributed. Below I will cover each in detail:
- Centralized – Ah, centralized…the old school method. Imagine a room with ten blue hairs, feeding big iron scanners, and the hum of paper over rollers filling the air. This is the traditional scanning model, where paper is shipped to a centralized location, and a few highly trained operators with high speed scanners capture and process paper. This process is easily standardized, but usually the operators are not the knowledge workers that know most about the documents.
- De-centralized – As bandwidth got cheaper, companies began to look for ways to put the scanning task into the hands of the end users. The decentralized model provides branch level scanning, usually with smaller desktop hardware, and gives more control to the knowledge workers. Things get scanned more quickly, and the indexing process is less error prone.
- Distributed – with the advent of network connected scanners, copiers and fax machines, distributed scanning has evolved to be the model of choice for SharePoint. It puts the scanning and capture task in the hands of everyone in the organization. It does have some drawbacks though: usually you need some software to standardize and govern the whole process, security becomes an issue with scanner availability, and most manufacturers have limited integration options for ECM.
Typically, a SharePoint Scanning and Capture environment requires some type of Hybrid Solution that can be a mesh of all models. Beware, you will need a capture application that can prosper in all different types of environments.