Paperless Office

Fujitsu Announces Its Next Generation ScanSnap iX500 Desktop Scanner

The following is a January 7, 2013, Fujitsu press release:

ScanSnap iX500 Desktop Scanner Incorporates “PC-Less” Scanning to Mobile Device Functionality

Control and Access Documents From the Palm of Your Hand With Your Smartphones and Tablets; Instantly Send Documents to the Cloud for Easy Organizing and Sharing

Fujitsu, the market leader in document imaging scanners, today introduced the newest addition to its award-winning ScanSnap product lineup – the next generation ScanSnap iX500 featuring built-in Wi-Fi connectivity giving customers the ability to scan directly to their Android™ and iOS compatible devices 1. Additionally, the ScanSnap iX500, for PC and Mac users, is enhanced with faster scanning speeds, a new advanced feeding system, an intelligent and customizable Quick Menu, and functionality allowing users to easily scan to cloud-based services such as Evernote, Google Docs™, Dropbox, SugarSync and Salesforce.

Equipped with a revolutionary “GI” image processer 2 inside the scanner, the ScanSnap iX500 is now empowered for today’s ever-increasing on-the-go lifestyle and mobile professional. Now, users can instantly scan and transmit PDF or JPEG files, such as contracts, receipts, bills, invoices and business cards, to their mobile devices without the use of a computer.

Utilizing the free “ScanSnap Connect” app on their mobile device or tablet, ScanSnap users achieve a whole new level of convenience in scanning; literally from the palm of their hand. With a simple push of a button, documents are scanned and saved to their mobile device ready to view, share or send to their favorite cloud service. The “ScanSnap Connect” app can be downloaded in the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store and can be used with Android compatible tablets and smartphones running OS 2.23 and both the iPad and iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later.

“There’s a simple reason why ScanSnap is the top selling personal scanner on the market today – it continues to offer the most intelligent, powerful scanning tools to keep up with the growing demands of our customers,” said Scott Francis, senior vice president of marketing, Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Inc. “The ScanSnap iX500’s built-in GI processor allows you to scan and save optimized PDFs to your mobile device without the need for a PC, while its advanced productivity features allow consumers and business professionals to be even more productive and paperless anywhere, anytime. All of this functionality provides customers with the highest performance personal scanning experience combined with extremely easy operation. The iX500 truly pushes the performance bar to a new level.”

Powerful, Intelligent and Fast

The ScanSnap iX500, enhanced with USB 3.0 connectivity, provides the same easy-to-use one-button scanning and advanced imaging technology that customers have come to expect with ScanSnap, while also providing consumers and business professionals additional intuitive productivity features that no other document management company offers. New and innovative features of the ScanSnap iX500 include:

  • Faster Scanning Performance: Utilizing the increased power of its engine and “GI” image processor, the iX500 can create PDF files at speeds of up to 25 double-sided color pages per minute (300dpi, color) — that’s 25 percent faster than its predecessor.
  • Advanced Document Feeding System: Inheriting the superior paper feeding technology driving the higher-end scanners from Fujitsu, the iX500 achieves exceptional feeding reliability using enhanced “Separation Roller” technology to maximize feeding reliability across an even wider range of documents and scanning situations.
  • Customizable Quick Menu: For additional convenience and flexibility, the ScanSnap Quick Menu is fully customizable and automatically appears after scanning providing a quick and easy way to send those scanned documents to several popular “Scan-To” applications. Furthermore, the Quick Menu incorporates new intelligence that anticipates the appropriate application while keeping users in the driver’s seat for easy and faithful disposition of content.
  • “ScanSnap Folder”: Stay in the moment and extend the power of one-button scanning into virtually any Windows application, even in the cloud, with the “ScanSnap Folder” function. This easy but powerful feature essentially replicates ScanSnap as a Windows folder which the user can open from their favorite software and web applications4 allowing them to scan into it without making complicated setting changes in ScanSnap or their application. It’s the ultimate in “Scan there!” versatility.
  • Cloud Services Support: Users can scan documents directly to Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox, SugarSync and Salesforce Chatter from their Mac or PC, giving them even more flexibility to store, share and access their paperwork. Whether it is scanning contracts, bills, invoices, or business cards on the road or using a PC in one place and a Mac in another, consumers have the necessary tools to be even more productive and paperless virtually anywhere.

Additional Productivity Features

The ScanSnap iX500 comes with software for PC and software for Mac so users who use both can optimize their ScanSnap for either platform. In-box software includes:

By |January 16th, 2013|Hardware, Paperless Office|0 Comments

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 – A Great Law Office Scanner

Fujitsu S1500 Snapscan ScannerThere a tons of scanners on the market so the choice of a scanner for your law office can be daunting.  You can spend a lot of time researching scanners and then take a chance on one or you can follow my advice and purchase the scanner used in my law office that does a great job for a relatively small amount of $$.  I have been scanning documents since 2001 and have been 100% paperless since March of 2004.  For more on the paperless law office read my article called “A Simple Inexpensive Way to Create a Paperless Law Office.”

I bought the first scanner for my law firm in 2001.  It was a multi-function Hewlett Packard Laserjet 3300 printer/copier/faxer/scanner.  The machine was great at three of its four functions, but as a useful law office scanner the HP 3300 sucked big time.  The problem with the the HP 3300 was it only scanned at two pages a minute.  That may be ok for home use, but it just doesn’t cut it for use in a busy law practice that does a lot of scanning.  Attorneys typically create and receive a lot of paper so they need a fast scanner, i.e., at least 20 pages per minute (ppm).

In 2004 when I went paperless I researched the scanner market and purchased two Xerox 252 scanners for approximately $700 each.  We still use both of these scanners.  I do recommend this family of scanners (see the Xerox DocuMate 262i Color Duplex 38 PPM 76 IPM ADF Scanner for $715), because they are fast (38 ppm) and do a great job, but so is my favorite scanner, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for PC.  The ScanSnap iX500 is only $415 (Amazon varies the price – it was $301 for two days in May) and it comes with Adobe Acrobat XI standard (a software program almost everybody in a law firm should have on their personal computer or on a server).

I recommend that all  lawyers (except those that are tech-retarded), legal assistants and secretaries in a law office have a personal scanner on their desk.  The best way to be paperless is for the people who know a particular document best to take a minute or two to scan the document then save it in the law firm’s document system.  Do not create inefficiencies, bottlenecks and added expense by letting people send their documents to a designated scanner who scans docs for a large number of people.  The best time to scan and save the pdf file is when you get the letter or the document.  You know best where the document should be saved and how to name it.  Once saved the document is now on your system to be accessed and viewed by others in your firm (unless you attach security to the document using your document management system).  If your firm does not have a document management system it should.

My Law Office Scanner Recommendation:  the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500

I recommend that attorneys and law firms buy the $415 – $450 Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac.  I have several ScanSnaps. Here are the reasons your law firm needs this scanner:

  • Fast scans:  25 ppm in color and faster for black and white.
  • 50 page sheet feeder
  • Small:  It is about the size of a shoe box.
  • Scan to: PDF, searchable PDF, JPG, Word (editable), Excel (editable).  It also scans business cards and zaps the data into an organizer.
  • Automatic duplex scanning
  • Easy to use.  Drop the document in the scanner and press the scan button and your five page document will appear on your computer monitor in Adobe pdf format in about 15 seconds.  You can then save the document, attach it to an email message or print more copies of the document.  No need for a stand-alone copy machine any more because everybody that has a scanner can scan and print as many copies of the scanned document as needed.

Buying the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac (PA03656-B005) scanner is a no-brainer because you get such a smoking deal – Acrobat XI for approximately $279 plus the ScanSnap iX500 for a little bit more.  When you buy this scanner from Amazon you are literally paying only $100 = $160 for it.

Acrobat XI Standard is a necessity for the scanning because it is the program that converts the scanned document to pdf format, the universal document file type.

Twain Compliance

From time to time I read on email message forums that lawyers do not want to buy the ScanSnap iX500 because it is not “twain” compliant.  I have no idea what that means, but I can tell you that in the eight years my law office has been 100% paperless we have never needed a twain compliant scanner.  To learn more about twain and why the ScanSnap iX500 is not twain compliant and does not need to be read “Why Doesn’t ScanSnap come with TWAIN drivers?

By |May 19th, 2012|Hardware, Paperless Office, Tech Stuff|3 Comments

Law Office Faxing in the 21st Century

Does your law firm have a stand alone fax machine that sends  faxes the old fashioned way?  I mean does your law office print the document to be faxed, insert it into a fax machine and push the send button and watch while the machine scans each page and then uses its modem to send the fax to the recipient?  Do your incoming faxes come into your fax machine over the phone line and does your old fax machine then print a hard copy of the fax?

eFax

If so, your law firm needs to move into the 21 century and use the not so new fangled technology to send and receive faxes.  My law office has used efax.com to send and receive faxes since 2004.  It’s great.  To send a fax I do the following:

  • Convert the item to be faxed to an Adobe pdf file.  If the document is a Word document, I click on the Acrobat tab on the menu bar at the top of Word then I click on the “Create PDF” tab and tell the program where I want to save the pdf file.  If the document is a hard copy document I put it in the sheet feeder of my  Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner and press the scan button.  A few seconds later the document opens in pdf format on my computer screen and I save the file on my computer.
  • Click on the eFax icon on my desktop to send an email to eFax.  This opens the free eFax software.  I enter the name of the recipient, company name (if desired) and the fax number.  If I previously sent a fax to the recipient that information is saved and easily zapped into the proper fields for my fax.  I can check a box to create a fax cover sheet that contains my recipient information and add more information if desired.
  • Attach the pdf file to the fax.  I click the attach icon and browse to the pdf file I saved and attach it to the eFax email.
  • Click on the send icon.  The email  and attachment are send to eFax and it then converts the pdf and immediately faxes it to the recipient.

One very nice feature is eFax maintains a record (including the content of the fax) of every fax my firm has sent since we purchased the service.

What I like best about eFax is that all incoming faxes are converted to Adobe pdf and sent to us as an attachment to an email message.  I can add up to five people in the firm to receive the same fax.  Both of my legal assistants get every fax I get and they handle most of the faxes.  Any email can easily be forwarded to another person in our firm or anybody outside the firm.  When we get a fax that we want to keep we click on the Time Matters save icon in Acrobat and save the pdf file to the client or matter in our Time Matters document management system.  For more on our document management system see my article called “A Simple Inexpensive Way to Create a Paperless Law Office.”

Every attorney in our firm has his or her own dedicated eFax phone number.  This allows each attorney to have a fax number that causes faxes to that number to go only to the attorney associated with the number and up to four additional recipients in the firm.  eFax also retains every incoming fax in case you need it.

Here’s the cost of an eFax Plus account as of the date of this post:

With eFax Plus, you’ll get a private and secure way to send and receive faxes as email attachments.
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Choose a local or toll-free number
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150 Included inbound fax pages per month
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150 Included outbound fax pages per month*
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$.10 per page overage charge
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$10.00 one-time setup fee
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Lifetime storage

Monthly Plan: $16.95/mo

Do yourself and your staff a big favor and switch to the new way of sending and receiving faxes.

What do you think?  Do you use a different digital fax service?  Tell us about it.

By |May 18th, 2012|Paperless Office, Software, Stuff We Recommend, Tech Stuff|0 Comments

A Simple Inexpensive Way to Create a Paperless Law Office

Are you in a 20th century or a 21st century law firm?  Lawyers produce, review and store massive amounts of paper.  If your law firm is not truly paperless its powers that be should be ashamed of themselves.  It’s time to move your law firm into the 21st century and use technology to not only save your firm money by doing away with the cost of filing and storing paper, but also allow all law firm personnel to access client and internal firm documents in a matter of seconds.  This article describes exactly how my small law firm became a paperless law firm.

My small law firm has been 100% paperless since March 2004.  Here are some important facts about our paperless law office:

  • We have 190,000+ documents in our paperless system.
  • Our lawyers and staff are able to find any client document in 5 – 10 seconds and have the document displayed on a computer monitor.
  • All of our documents are viewable over the internet from any where in the world.
  • Each attorney can apply security (or not) to restrict access to a document to authorized firm personnel.

In 2004 I practiced law alone with no support staff other than my wife who was also my paralegal, secretary, bookkeeper and file clerk. We went 100% paperless in March of 2004. We do not keep hard copies of any documents.

I have a very high volume, document intensive practice. When I first wrote this article on October 29, 2005, my wife and I had saved 970 documents (46 documents a day excluding weekend days) in the previous month. Most documents we save are documents we create, but we also scan and save a lot of incoming correspondence and other documents. I can easily determine how many documents we save a month by looking at the document number (in my document management system) of the first document we create in any month and the comparing that number to the number of the latest document we create in a month.

For a solo or small firm, it is very easy and relatively inexpensive to create a paperless law office. I am extremely happy I made the switch. I can find any letter, document, notes of a meeting, Excel spreadsheet, .pdf document, Power Point Presentation or piece of paper that relates to a client, matter or contact in a few seconds and have it displayed on my computer monitor. It’s a wonderful thing.  All of our six attorneys and our legal assistants and secretaries love our paperless system because it is much easier and less time consuming than filing hard copies in a file in a file cabinet.

My small law firm now has four attorneys and four legal assistants. We continue to create a lot of paper documents – over 1,500 a month.

Why Paperless if Good

There are several reasons why a paperless office is the way to go:

  • It saves the time and expense of having people file documents in traditional hard copy files.
  • It saves the expense and headaches of file storage.
  • It saves the expense and time delay of getting documents from closed storage.
  • It’s green and doesn’t adversely affect the environment.
  • If your building is destroyed or your office vandalized, your documents are safe and not affected (assuming you have a proper backup system).
  • With a good document management system attorneys can attach security to every document so that only authorized people can access the document.
  • It allows firm lawyers and personnel to have almost instant access to documents.

My favorite reason for being paperless is the last item. If somebody calls and asks me a question about a document in our system, I can find and open a signed copy of the document in pdf format in a matter of seconds. People who do not know we are paperless are frequently shocked that I can access their document so quickly.

Hardware & Software Needed to Go Paperless

Here’s how we went paperless:

1. In 2004 I bought two Xerox Documate 252 scanners (one for me and one for my wife, my legal assistant) for about $900 each. It’s about the size of a shoe box and sits next to our flat panel computer monitors. It has a very small footprint.  Now every attorney and legal assistant has a personal scanner on his or her desk.  Personal scanners on people’s desks are absolutely necessary if you truly want to be 100% paperless.  You must make it simple and convenient for everybody in the firm to scan documents and input the documents into your document management system (another must have item of law office technology).

Fujitsu S1500 Snapscan ScannerScanner Advice: The scanner I now buy and recommend you buy is the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC and Mac.  Amazon sells this scanner for $400 – $450 (Amazon varies the price).  This is a smoking deal – you get a 25 page per minute color personal scanner that comes with Adobe Acrobat X standard software.  Acrobat is needed so that scans open automatically as pdf files.  We love this scanner.  It’s the size of a shoe box.  It has a 50 page sheet feeder and can scan business cards and color photos.  For more about this scanner real my article called “The Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 – A Great Law Office Scanner.”

The scanners you see in computer stores like Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot are slow home use type scanners. When you shop for an office scanner, you want speed (at least 20 pages per minute) and a sheet feeder that takes at least 25 pages. If the scanner on sale doesn’t prominently display its pages per minute scanning speed, it means the scanner is much too slow (a few pages per minute) to use for anything other than infrequent home scanning. Years ago I bought three HP 3380 4 in 1 printer, scanner, fax and copiers for $700 each. They print, fax and copy great, but the fastest I could ever get the HP 3380 to scan was 2 pages per minute in black and white at 300 dpi. Very fast high volume scanners are several thousand dollars and up, but most small offices don’t need that kind of speed (50+ pages per minute). Manufacturers of medium and high speed scanners display the scanner speed because that is one of the main features buyer’s seek.

2. All lawyers and staff have Acrobat XI Standard Win [Download]. I have the Acrobat Professional XI Windows [Download] version (approximately $400) and everybody else has the standard version (approximately $299).  This is one software item that every lawyer who wants to be paperless needs.  We actually have a multiuser version of Acrobat 9 standard on our server.  I use Acrobat Professional XI Windows [Download] to create pdf fillable forms.  It’s great.  For an example of an online engagement agreement that is typical of those I use to create for my law firm see my Arizona LLC Formation Agreement.  Prospective clients can save the document on their computer, fill out the form, save it then email it to us.  We make pdf fillable client engagement agreements and data intake forms and other forms for internal office use only.  Update:  We have replaced many of our pdf engagement agreements with a WordPress plugin called Gravity Forms.  I love Gravity Forms.  My LLC Formation Questionnaire is a Gravity Forms smart form.

3. Our computers are on a network. All data files are saved on the server. Our system makes daily backups to the cloud.  We use Mozy Pro and Jungle Disk for automatic backs over the internet to a secure web storage site.

4. We use Time Matters for many things, including document management. I’ve used Time Matters since 1998. It is an incredible program without which our productivity would be drastically reduced along with a corresponding reduction in income. I bought my first document management program (PC Docs – later Docs Open) in 1992 for $350 a user. I believe that EVERY (w/o exception) practicing lawyer who has a lot of documents should use a document management system. Having a document management system is one reason I can find any document I seek in a few seconds.

That’s all the hardware and software we used to make our 100% paperless office.

Paperless Office Procedures

Here’s how we actually do the paperless thing:

1. When we receive a hard copy of a document or if we create a document such as a letter or contract, we either scan it with a scanner (if it’s in hard copy format) or “print” to Adobe .pdf (if it’s in Word format) to create a pdf version of the document in a few seconds. Having a personal scanner at our desks is critical for a successful paperless system. You want the user/office personnel to be able to scan the document contemporaneously with creating or handling it. The user is best able to determine the appropriate information for the document to input in the document profile. You must indoctrinate your staff to do contemporaneous scanning and saving to get maximum efficiency, staff productivity and attorney ability to access scanned documents in the system.

2. To scan a hard copy of a document, we insert the document (up to 50 pages for the sheet feeder, but I usually limit it to around 25 pages to reduce the chance of a paper jam) into the sheet feeder of the Xerox 262. If the document is letter size, we press the simplex or the duplex button on the scanner and the scanner then scans the document at about 25 pages per minute. If the document is legal size, I press another button to change to scan format #2, which is legal size paper. I then press simplex or duplex button to start the scan. We scan at a resolution of 300 dpi (preconfigured in the Xerox 262), which produces a good quality printed version of the document.

3. In a few seconds or maybe a minute if the document is 25 pages, the document automatically appears on the screen in Adobe .pdf format, even if Adobe was not previously loaded.

4. We click on the TM save icon in Adobe Acrobat, which causes the TM document profile screen to appear on the screen. To add a document to the TM document management system, the document must be saved using TM’s document profile.

5. In 10 – 15 seconds we enter the following information into the TM profile: document code (PN for promissory note, OA for Operating Agreement, etc.), the name of the document and the client, matter or contact. By pressing F2 in the appropriate field or by typing the client, matter or contact info, TM will find the desired client, matter or contact. TM automatically inserts the initials of the person creating the document, the date and time of creation, the next document number, and most importantly, the document file name and file location on the network. We’ve configured TM to use its automatic naming feature and to automatically create a file name equal to the document name and save it in a folder under the client, matter or contact name. TM’s file naming and file saving location configuration feature is very robust and gives the user many options and a lot of flexibility. If needed, TM will automatically create the folder where it saves the file.

Step 5 is the last of the steps needed to free your office from paper. I did two test scans, one with a 35 page document and the other with a five page document. One minute and 45 seconds from pushing the scan button, I had scanned the 35 page document, converted it to Adobe .pdf format, created a document profile in TM and saved the profile and pdf file. The same process from start to finish for the five page document was 40 seconds.

Ask yourself how long would it take your secretary or file clerk to file a hard copy of a document. The filer must find and obtain the hard file, punch holes in the document, physically tack down and file the document in the file, then return the file to the appropriate location. Not only does hard copy filing take a lot longer than paperless filing, but it might take days or weeks before the document actually is filed in the client or matter file.

The old fashioned method of filing hard copies is inefficient, costly in terms of staff time to file, a waste of expensive office space for row after row of file cabinets, a waste of time for lawyers and staff to find and deliver files to personnel, and expensive to store long term.

As for setting up the hardware and software and training staff to scan and save into TM, any good TM consultant should be able to configure a scanner and TM’s document management system and teach users how to do operate the paperless system in a very short period of time. I taught my wife how to scan and save in TM in a 20 or 30 minute session. It really is just as easy as I made steps 1 – 5 above seem.

Practical Note: If you convert to a paperless or semi paperless office, don’t waste the time, money or energy to scan and index existing documents and files except those that are actually being serviced at the time and inactive files that you think you will need in digital format in the near future. Start fresh and scan going forward. Most of your old files will rarely if ever be accessed so it does not make sense to convert the inactive files to digital files unless it is for the purpose of eliminating file and storage space.

By |April 12th, 2012|Hardware, Paperless Office, Software, Tech Stuff|38 Comments