Four questions to anticipate in selecting and recommending document scanners by Michael Scheller, VP, Bwe Bell + Howell Scanners (pictured right).
Selecting a production scanner is a lot more complicated than selecting a digital music player, but the two have one thing in commonthe most popular model is not necessarily the best fit for either your customers budget or his needs.
Thats where you come in. A value-added reseller or integrator is trusted with the responsibility of helping companies sift through the vast array of features and models on the market. By anticipating your clients questions and taking the time to fully answer them with your best counsel, you can encourage your customers confidenceand they will respect your guidance all the more.
Is the scanner a good fit for my imaging needs?
Have a clear understanding of your clients objectives. For intelligent, high-volume document imaging, consider a scanner with advanced camera technology and image processing. This will provide sharper images that ensure accurate optical character and bar code recognition at lower resolutions. The smaller image files it produces will require less storage space, and the near-elimination of manual data entry will reduce the number of errors and operational costs for your client.
Although many high-end scanners can be easily configured to meet nearly every imaging need, dont rule out a plug-and-play scanner if it can do the job. Todays powerful desktop scanning bundles for workgroup and departmental applications are packed with advanced functionality and contain everything you need to quickly set up an efficient low-volume or distributed imaging system.
How will the scanner fit into my current infrastructure?
Consider what the customer has before specifying a scanner. Integrating new equipment with existing systems is challenging. So, before you start a job, explain to the client that standardizing hardware, software and processes across an imaging system can simplify technical support, minimize operator training and make it easier to add new scanners, PCs or storage as the customers needs change.
If you plan to install a large-scale imaging system, dont do it all at once. Integrating a system in phases allows you to check and test the technology to make sure it meets your clients document management needs. It also provides a sturdy platform for future expansion and enhancementwhich translates into additional sales and upgrades.
Does the scanners ease-of-use match my staffs know-how?
Dont neglect the human aspect. Take the time to learn who will be using the scanner on an ongoing basis. Whether your client has dedicated operators or not, a scanner that is reliable, easy to use and maintain can reduce training time and maximize operator efficiency.
Intelligent scanners can be pre-programmed during installation to meet specific needs. Advanced features like auto colour detection, auto rotation, blank page deletion and auto image cleanup allow you to configure scanner settings to run flawlessly. Image enhancementPC based software or built into the scanners hardwarehelps deliver the best possible digital image without end-user intervention. And every client appreciates features that reduce labour.
Not every aspect of an imaging system has to be automated. Even so, an imaging operation with minimal downtime and easy error resolution can increase your customers scanning efficiency.
What is this really going to cost me?
Be upfront by explaining that theres more to the cost than list price. Always explain a scanners total cost of ownership, which goes beyond list price to include the up-front and ongoing costs of connectivity, consumables, system upgrades and maintenance.
Warranty coverage and availability of technical support are important considerations. Some scanners are equipped with user-replaceable consumable parts and alert the operator when its time to clean the scanner or change the lamps. Self-maintenance can reduce service calls and operational costs.
To properly anticipate all of your customers costs, its also a good idea to recommend a scanner that is built on a proven platform. The most popular scanner models are not necessarily the most reliable, but a scanner that has been tried and tested in the field can be trusted for high performance and low maintenance.
And be sure to emphasize the post-installation support services you offer. Recognizing and planning for the actual costs of running an imaging system will help your customer stay on budgetand he or she will trust you all the more for it.
There is a document scanner out there to match your clients budget and needs. You just need to help them answer the right questions to find it.
Michael Scheller is vice president of Bwe Bell + Howell Scanners. Bwe Bell + Howell is always adding value to its full line of fast, dependable, easy-to-use scanners to convert documents into high-quality digital images and help businesses meet their document management needs.