Most likely every business school in the country teaches a section on lease versus buy analysis. That may be trickier now with the constant tax law changes, but nonetheless, it is a systematic approach to comparing the cost variables and economic benefits of each option. The end result of the analysis will hopefully provide a clear choice that shows one option with a superior return on investment.
Believe it or not, this type of analysis is helpful in the document management world as well. It’s called the repair or replace quandary. We find that a high percentage of companies that completed a scanning project, or inherited the end product of one, found that the work was poor quality. This makes it difficult and frustrating for users to find important information. Does it make more sense to repair the damage or just start over?
For the repair option, it is important to understand the scope of the problem and the type of problem. How many documents are affected? Is it hundreds or tens of thousands? Was it that all documents were scanned as one giant PDF? Maybe it was missing pages or documents. Maybe it was poor naming convention. It’s also important to know if the paper still exists or not. It’s difficult to repair poor scan quality when you can’t go back and rescan the original.
Think about the skill set of the people that would be required to repair a particular type of problem. If missing documents or pages is the issue, that requires costly, detail-oriented labor. If the problem is separating out a single PDF into multiple documents, that may be an easier task if the documents are standardized and can be readily identified. If the documents are not standardized, the level of skill increases and the cost follows.
Don’t forget to consider the process, tools and equipment that would be necessary to efficiently repair files. If it’s an audit with rescanning, the original copies and a scanner are needed. But technical talent may be required to replace the files hosted in a document management system. When the scope involves large batches of PDFs that need splitting or re-naming of documents, a tool that can efficiently feed up new files and make it easy to complete the necessary tasks will be required.
Starting over or replacing the files is a possible option and should be considered when the documents in question are accessed frequently and mission critical. Starting over is also a valid option when the problem is missing pages or potentially missing documents from a collection. The cost to audit the files and find the problems may be higher than staring over. Renaming documents or splitting up PDFs into separate documents are more likely “repair” options.
Look at the scope of the problem. Understand the various costs involved based on each option, including human costs, as well as the potential need for new applications or hardware and project management time. Then consider what the need is for a clean repository and compare the costs to the benefit. That sounds a lot like a lease versus buy analysis.