Saturday, April 13, 2013

Going paperless: The Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner

Until late last year, I was drowning in paper. At least my desk was. I review a lot of documents. If it's more than a page and it needs a thorough review, I have to print it out, grab my highlighter and red pen and mark it up. I've tried annotating PDFs, the big screen monitor and other tricks but -- at least for me -- I need to flip pages and mark things up manually. My usual workflow, when I've finished with a document, is to leave it on my desk in case I need it later. Later doesn't always come and the paper accumulates. I also take most of my notes longhand, which results in a load of papers to add to the mess.

When I moved offices over the holidays, I decided I needed to do something about this. Paper files suck and, afterall, this is 2013.

My office is on the same floor as my firm's property group and I noticed that all of the property paralegals have scanners on their desks so they can e-file to the registry. Though we have enormous copiers on each floor that can scan, it's inconvenient to get up, scan, retrieve it from your e-mail and then do something with the document. I prevailed upon our IT manager to hook me up with one as an experiment with paperlessness and it has made a huge difference.

I now have a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Scanner on my desk with MUCH less paper. Trees do die on a regular basis, but as soon as I've finished with a piece of paper it goes into the sheet feeder. One push of the button and it's scanned and ready to deal with. If it's a contract with markup or notes on a current matter, the PDF gets filed into the firm's document management system. If it's personal, it's almost instantly flung into Google Drive. The paper goes into the shredding bin and my desk is actually a work surface again.

I am not surprised that this is the personal scanner of choice in the legal industry. It has a very small footprint on my desk and can fold up into itself to look a like a silvery shoebox. The sheet feeder can take up to fifty sheets and it can scan both sides in one scan. It OCRs the text without a hiccup. The included software is smart enough to know when the back page is blank, so you can set it to scan duplex by default and forget about it. It can do colour, high rez, fax rez and it also scans odd sized documents (like business cards and receipts). The scanner even does a decent job on photos. And running it is as easy as putting the paper in the feeder and pushing the button. It starts scanning and the software appears on my screen once the job is done, asking where the document should go. If you're an Evernote user, it'll even scan directly to Evernote. If someone had asked me what I wanted in a desktop scanner to reduce the paper on my desk in a way that's so easy that I'd actually use it, this is what I would have designed.

The thing ain't cheap, but I'm sure it has paid for itself since I haven't spent even a billable minute this year looking for a piece of paper on my desk.

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