Scanning vs Digitizing: What They Are, the Differences, and the Benefits

While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are a number of unique benefits and differences between scanning and digitizing.

In this video learn more about what it means to scan vs digitize a document, how each process works, and the advantages of both methods for converting paper documents to digital.

What’s the Difference?

Document scanning and digitizing are often considered to be one and the same, but contrary to popular belief they are actually two separate processes for converting a paper document to a digital copy.

There are a number of differences, but what truly separates them is their usability—while both create digital documents, only digitizing can create editable versions.

Scanning Defined

Document scanning is otherwise known as “document imaging”, and just like it sounds, when a document is scanned a picture—or “image”—of the document is taken and converted to a digital file.

Digitizing Defined

Document digitizing builds on scanning’s conversion by implementing additional tools during the process to make new digital files manipulable as opposed to being just static images.

The Benefits of Document Scanning

There are multiple advantages to scanning documents, with some of the primary examples being benefits like time and cost-efficiency, simplified security, and saving space.

Boosting Speed

Document scanning can improve workflow in several ways such as the ability to access digital files remotely—in turn removing time spent filing and re-filing hard copies.

In addition to accessibility, using document management system (DMS) software to manage digital files can also improve the efficiency of sharing, organizing, and collaborating on documents.

Improving Cost-Efficiency

Document scanning saves money in two primary ways: time and space. For example considering how time is money, the ability to quickly track down papers in turn helps to open up extra time for more productive purposes.

Besides time, going paperless also opens up space once used for storage. Rather than filing cabinets, the valuable real estate can be used for more revenue-generating employees instead.

Simplifying Security

Scanning improves security with the ability to easily keep track of files, in turn lowering the chances for files to be lost or stolen and data being breached.

In terms of natural disasters and environmental damage, automated backups for scanned documents can also be configured so there can always be a secure and up-to-date copy stored safely off site.

The Advantages of Digitizing Documents

The benefits of digitizing work like an extension of scanning, helping to improve the usability of digital documents with tools like optical character recognition (OCR), redaction, and automated retention tracking.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR is used during the scanning process where characters on a page are converted to machine-encoded text.

Rather than a simple image of the file, the encoded text can be edited and manipulated—helping to make newly digitized documents more usable.

Document Redaction Systems

During digitization documents can also be redacted to protect any sensitive information the contain.

Besides simplifying the redaction process, digital redaction is also more secure. While in the past many hard-copy redactions were ink-based and could be removed by a motivated thief, a digital redaction is permanent.

Automated Retention Tracking

When files like medical records are digitized DMS systems can often be configured to track their legal retention periods.

By helping to ensure no information is able to slip through the cracks, these automated retention tracking systems help to simplify managing record retention and to avoid any noncompliance penalties or fines.

Have Documents to Scan or Digitize?

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