Should You Outsource Document Scanning or Do It In-House?

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So you’ve decided that you want to make your business or organization paperless, or at least want to scan a ton of backfile documents. There are so many great reasons to take your documents digital and the time you’ll get back from automating processes is more than worth the upfront conversion cost.

But now the decision you have to make is if you want to scan all of your backfiles yourself or if you want to have a third-party company do the scanning for you. There are benefits to both ways, which we’re going to cover below.

First, let’s go over outsourced document scanning.

Benefits for Outsourcing Your Document Scanning

1. High Speed Production Scanning Equipment

document scanning company equipment

A third-party company will already have the equipment for a scanning project.

As a document scanning company’s business is document scanning, they already (or should) have top-of-the-line high speed production scanning equipment. These scanners can process hundreds of pages per minute, which is much fast than the typical desktop scanner.

2. Staff Experienced in Scanning Services

Along with already having equipment, third party scanning companies also already have trained and experienced staff to handle the preparation, scanning, and indexing of your documents. Scanning can start immediately and end faster than if you have to decide on a process and train your own employees.

3. No Need to Buy/Rent Your Own Scanners

As the company already has their own, you will not need to spend hundreds (or even thousands!) of dollars on your own scanning hardware and software.

4. Adequate Space to Process Your Records

A scanning company’s entire office is arranged for how to best prep and scan your documents. You won’t need to find a space in your own office for the scanning.

5. Knowledge of Process and Standards

document scanning company staff office

Document scanning companies are designed specifically for scanning projects and have highly-trained staff.

Not only do they know the best way to convert your documents, they’re going to do it at the highest level of output quality. A scanning company can also advise the best output and storage for your particular needs.

6. Known Costs

When you outsource to a document scanning company, they should provide you with an itemized bill before you sign the contract. This means that you will know exactly how much the project will cost and there won’t be any surprise fees or expenses. Often, organizations that opt to scan themselves don’t realize how much labor time and costs will go into the project.

7. Reduced Down-Time with More Deployable Equipment

You won’t lose any time on your project if equipment breaks or goes down. Companies plan for this in their day-to-day operations and should have contingency plans and backup equipment to keep everything running business as usual.

8. Turnkey Document Management Solutions

If you aren’t entirely sure what you want to do with your new digital files, a document scanning company will have the expertise to recommend (and if you want, setup) a new document management solution for you. A good company will take the time to listen to your organization’s goals and then recommend the right solution from a variety of choices.

Now let’s cover the benefits of keeping your scanning project in-house.

Benefits for In-House/On-Premises Document Scanning

1. Greater Project Control

When you’re in charge of scanning your own documents, you can completely control everything within the scanning project. You can pick your own software, hardware, employees, location—everything! If you decide you need to change something or reprioritize documents, it’s an easy correction to make.

2. Knowledge of Your Organization’s Objectives

shred unneeded documents

You and your company will know best which documents can immediately be destroyed.

Doing the scanning in-house means that you can control input and output according to your organization’s objectives. You will know better than any vendor what’s critical to your company’s success and you can translate that into your scanning project.

3. Ability to Reduce Unnecessary Material

Since you’ll be preparing your own files, you can take a look at the documents and determine if they even need to be scanned. It’s very possible that 40-60% of your documents are older than your retention policy and simply need to be destroyed.

Pro tip: if you don’t have a retention schedule/policy, you really should put one on paper before starting a scanning project. You don’t want to destroy something you may need and you don’t want to scan an unnecessary amount of paper.

4. Possible Lower Cost

Depending on the amount of documents you need to scan, it’s possible that doing it in-house will have a lower price point than outsourcing. That comes from you knowing the documents better than any company, so you would know what may not need to be scanned.

However, be aware of hidden costs. There are a lot of factors to consider (employee time, transportation costs, hardware) so it’s important you get accurate quotes for both scenarios. Remember that any time your employees spend preparing and scanning documents will be lost from other work.


Ultimately, it comes down to your business’ priorities, budget, timeline, and preference as to which scanning method you pick. And no matter which choice you make, the entire process must be closely- and well-managed with multiple points of quality control built in. This will ensure that your final images are readable and usable. Saving money may not be worth it if you end up with poor quality files that you can’t use.

If you have any questions about either choice, you can always contact us or give us a call at (630) 321-0601. We’re happy to support any scanning project that you have in mind!


This post is part of the Datamation Guide to Document Scanning.