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How Can I Create Electronic Versions of Existing Paper Forms and Documents?

Mark Flesch
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The workforce is becoming less dependent on paper on the whole, but that doesn’t mean paper forms and documents cease to exist. It also doesn’t mean those paper forms and documents aren’t still being used — and creating a good deal of inefficiency.

Creating electronic forms and documents from paper is an obvious answer, but not all conversion methods are created equal. Three popular go-to strategies include:

Re-typing Forms From Scratch

In this worst case scenario, creating text is labor intensive and prone to error. Further difficulties arise if a paper document contains images — can they be reproduced accurately and efficiently, if at all? Do you have the necessary software to recreate images?

Scanning Documents “As Is”

A quicker option than recreating documents from scratch, scanning brings with it its own challenges including illegibility and contents that cannot be easily modified. Unless no changes are intended and/or there are no on-screen form fields to be completed, scanning forms and documents “as is” usually leads to their complete recreation later on.

Either approach gets the job done, to varying degrees, but there is a better solution for producing electronic versions of existing forms and documents:

Using a Multifunction Device

Multifunction devices — an “all in one” printer/scanner/copier/fax machine — are powerful and, when combined with the right software and guidance from a Managed Print provider, can easily address the paper-to-electronic conversion dilemma:

  • A scanned document from the multifunction device opened in a PDF editor like Adobe Acrobat Reader can be converted into an “intelligent PDF” — meaning form fields are automatically detected by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and made accessible for on-screen completion, and any text within the scanned document is fully searchable and editable.
  • The equipment that scanned the document can also print, copy and fax it, ensuring seamless information security.
  • The streamlined process cuts costs, saves time and conserves resources.

If your business is currently caught between paper and electronic forms and documents, or if the future is unfolding in that direction, a multifunction device is a worthy investment. Reach out today to find out more and get expert advice on the right equipment option for your needs.

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