When to Outsource: A look at outsourcing, insourcing and taking a hybrid approach to document capture, conversion and management

Over the past several years, advancements in data capture technologies, stricter records management requirements and the goal of achieving the coveted “paperless office” have driven companies to seek more efficient ways of handling their information. But, with hundreds of thousands of documents (anything from HR forms, to healthcare records, to admissions applications) in a multitude of formats, some organizations are simply unable to support their capture initiatives in-house. Therefore, many are looking for expertise outside of their organization to convert, classify and archive their information to improve their document management processes.

Today, outsourcing remains a viable option for effective document capture projects and streamlining ongoing efforts. According to a 2014 InfoTrends report, the production scanning outsourcing market is expected to grow to $2.4 billion in 2018. This growth is despite the natural decline in paper in many industries, as more companies will seek end-to-end business process applications – making outside expertise even more valuable. Yet, no two companies are the same, nor are their document conversion and management needs. So, when should you outsource? This guide will help you decide.

Subject Matter Expertise

When determining if (or what) you should outsource, it is vital to first examine your internal expertise. Do you have the subject matter experts on staff that can effectively lead you through your project and beyond? More often than not, the answer is “no.” An outside firm not only has the proper tools, equipment and integration capabilities to perform the physical conversions, but also has the depth of industry knowledge to classify data for e-discovery, ensure compliance and train end users. As an added value, an outside firm can start by performing a front-end business process analysis to verify that your efforts align with your overall objectives.


It’s almost an obvious question, but it’s an essential one to ask. What is your budget for this project? If you are looking for a cost-effective option, consider outsourcing. With little to no capital expenditures (equipment, for example) or staff management overheads, you’ll realize a low total cost of ownership (TCO) and faster return on investment (ROI). Bringing in an outside firm eliminates these superfluous expenses and frees up capital to allocate elsewhere. Also, if you are looking to save office space, outsourcing your document capture and digitization initiatives is more economic in the long run than storing those same documents at an off-site facility. At the same time, you’ll eliminate any accessibility and retention challenges.

Internal Resources

Let’s say that you have the budget and your staff has the expertise to successfully carry out an internal conversion project. But, do you have the manpower? Employees, especially IT staff, may be too overworked for this undertaking. Outsourcing alleviates some of this pressure and allows staff to focus on their mission-critical tasks. Similarly, outsourcing can eliminate the political tension that comes when different departments and personnel disagree on a project’s approaches and priorities.

Time & Turnaround

How soon do you need to complete this conversion project? If you take on the task internally, will you meet your deadline? Outside experts will help keep you on deadline and ensure a quick turnaround. For example, if an organization is preparing to downsize a space or is moving to a new office and needs documents converted and shredded within 30 days, outsourcing might be the way to go.

Back-file Conversions

Do you have thousands documents that go back 50-some years, sitting in a file cabinet or closet without any type of organization? If you are in need of high-volume, back-file conversions, consider outsourcing. In fact, this is the most common type of outsourced project. In these cases, firms will come in and perform the backlog scanning, archiving and classification, and then provide day-forward software and equipment to help the company convert their ongoing active files in-house. It’s almost a blend of outsourcing and insourcing. This parlays into another option to consider – the Hybrid approach.

The Hybrid Approach

The Hybrid approach to document capture is becoming the method of choice for many enterprises. And, it entails exactly what you would think – this approach allows companies to outsource when and where it is most appropriate, while handling some efforts internally. For example, a company may outsource the preparation, scanning and storing of information, but perform the indexing itself. Or, a company may choose to scan its most confidential documents in-house, and outsource the rest. There are many options, depending on your company and your business objectives.

Final Considerations for Outsourcing

If you’re going to outsource, always select a provider that you can trust, especially if you are dealing with sensitive or classified information. Most organizations have nondisclosure agreements and security guidelines, which are certainly an added benefit. Also, understand the value of performing an upfront business process analysis. Your selected firm should first obtain a thorough grasp of your business, existing processes and goals, so work closely with your provider. As a result, the solution (whether completely outsourced or a hybrid approach) that you end up using will support those objectives.

Remember: If you’re a bank, be a bank. If you’re a federal agency, be a federal agency. If it makes sense, leave the document capture and conversions to the experts. You’ll be able to focus on your own, day-to-day business priorities and position yourself for long-term success.