Document imaging software is an application used in document management to convert paper documents to digital format. Scanners are used to input document information, and then the document imaging software typically names and saves the documents, uses optical character recognition (OCR) to make them searchable and editable, and files them. Document imaging software can be integrated with multi-function peripherals (MFPs) so the software can handle documents as they’re scanned.
Often, document imaging software includes built-in features to streamline and control the editing of stored documents. Some applications include the ability to check out a document to ensure that only one user can edit a document at a time. The software can also facilitate approval processes so changes are not applied to documents until specified administrators approve them.
The software usually comes with its own graphical user interface for storing and locating files. Interfaces can include drag-and-drop capabilities and sometimes incorporate search engines similar to those used to search the Internet so users can quickly and easily locate files. Documents stored in the software can be printed, emailed and digitally faxed. Some software allows users to annotate documents using built-in commenting features.
Document imaging software often includes the capability of integrating documents with other programs. Documents can be saved in portable document format (PDF) and Microsoft® Office-compatible formats, and images can be exported in formats like jpeg and tiff. Data can also be copied and pasted into word processing documents and spreadsheets.
Many businesses use document imaging software for its security features. Users can be allowed or denied access to certain files based on user privilege level, and files can be locked for editing, or edits can require approval before being applied to documents. In addition to providing security by controlling access to and changing of documents, document imaging software provides business security because digital files, unlike paper documents, can be easily and regularly backed up. This allows businesses to protect documents in case of catastrophic events like fire or flood.
Digital imaging software also has several other benefits. In addition to providing increased security, digital files save storage space. Computer files are more readily accessible and easier to share than paper documents, especially for large, dispersed work groups. Software that includes automatic filing capabilities can also save administrative costs. Since most documents are ultimately used electronically, filing and storing them in electronic format provides continuity, consolidates workflows and saves time.