On-site vs Off-site Document Scanning

Most companies now acknowledge that a paperless office has many benefits—more accessibility, faster sharing, better collaboration, cheaper storage, and better security.

Scanning documents is the first stepping stone to digital transformation.

Once you decide to digitize your business documents, it's time for another critical decision: Should you execute the scanning project within your company premises or ship the documents to a document conversion center? Of course, this question only crops up when you've decided to outsource your scanning project to a third-party scanning services provider. Leading document scanning bureaus provide both these document scanning options. Comparing the pros and cons of on-site vs off-site document scanning services is essential to decide which option is right for you.


What is on-site document scanning? 

More and more organizations now turn to professional scanning service providers to convert their paper documents and legacy archives into digital files that can be securely and affordably stored on cloud-based systems and conveniently accessed when needed.

To execute a digitization project, most scanning companies prefer transporting documents to their scanning centers.

However, when organizations have a large volume of documents to scan, sending all their documents off to the scanning company may seem challenging.

Firstly, sorting, packing and transporting boxes and boxes of business documents to a scanning facility and back is not a small task! Besides, it is expensive, and in some cases, old papers may be too fragile to handle, and companies don't want to risk damaging them. In addition, some industry regulations and compliances may also prevent organizations from sending sensitive documents off-site (outside their office premises).

 In such cases, organizations prefer to choose an on-site scanning service.

On-site scanning is a service where a document scanning company sets up a professional scanning unit within your office premises to scan and digitize your paper documents 'on-site’ (that is, on your premises or office location). Every step of the document scanning process—from document preparation and scanning to indexing and conversion—is accomplished without your documents ever leaving your premises.

DRS Imaging offers on-site scanning services. Our proficient and skilled scanning staff work closely with your team. State-of-the-art scanners ensure that the scanning project is executed according to your specifications securely and accurately.

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Benefits of on-site scanning services

Let's look at the benefits of on-site scanning to help you decide if this may be the right option for your digitization project. 

Security & compliance

The main benefit of using an on-site scanning service is that your documents remain safe and secure within your premises. You retain control of your documents before, during and after the scanning project. This is especially important when your company deals with sensitive documents, and regulatory compliances don't permit you to send sensitive information to a third-party scanning facility outside your premises. 


Another benefit of on-site scanning is that documents don't have to be packed and shipped to the document scanning bureau or their document conversion centers. It saves significant effort, time and costs of sorting, packing, and organizing documents for transportation. Plus, you can access all the records and retrieve information easily when required. If your employees need a specific document urgently, our on-site scanning team can quickly make it available for your use. No time is lost in couriering or transporting papers to you as they're all present on your premises!

Close coordination & monitoring

High-volume scanning is a complex project, and the scanning team can run into issues that need clarifications or additional inputs from client teams. When your documents are scanned on-site, your team members can actively participate in the scanning project. They can coordinate closely with the on-site scanning team and resolve queries instantly wherever required. Monitoring the project on-site helps increase speed and efficiency. No delays because of emails or phone calls back and forth to get clarifications! In addition, you can track and monitor the progress of the scanning project closely and take corrective measures quickly, if required, to ensure that the scanning project is completed on time and within budget.

Are there any disadvantages to on-site scanning? 

We've looked at the benefits of scanning documents on-site at your premises. However, before you choose between on-site and off-site document scanning services, it is also important to note the challenges you may face if you decide to execute your scanning project on-site. 

Needs a sizeable budget

Before you opt for on-site scanning, consider this: There is a cost to transporting production-grade scanning equipment and sending trained personnel to your location to execute an on-site scanning project. And it may work out more expensive than shipping documents to a document conversion center. So while the security and convenience of on-site scanning justify its cost, you have to consider whether you have the requisite budget for the project.

Scanning may take longer

Although the on-site unit is set up according to your specific requirements, it may take longer to scan your documents on-site than at a full-scale scanning facility. This is because there are limited resources (both in terms of machinery and staff) available on-site compared to those available at a full-scale scanning facility. For example, if there is a technical glitch or problem with the equipment and the on-site team cannot resolve the issue, experts may need to be called in from the main office, which can cause delays in the project schedule. 

Space may be an issue

You're impressed with all the benefits on-site scanning provides. But does your organization have the space required to set up a secure scanning unit on your premises? Commercial real estate is at a premium, and many organizations have just enough space to accommodate their staff and operational equipment. On-site scanning means that the scanning services provider will need an appropriate space on your premises to set up scanning equipment, store and handle documents and provide reasonable working conditions for scanning staff.

Before you decide to execute a digitization project on-site, consider whether you have the required space to set up a temporary scanning unit.

Now that we've looked at both the pros and cons of opting for on-site document scanning services, let's recap the main reasons why on-site scanning may be the right choice for your digitization project.

On-site document scanning is the right choice when:

  • Your company deals with strictly confidential information and has very sensitive documents that cannot leave the premises for security or compliance reasons. 
  • You have adequate space, resources, time and budget for setting up a scanning facility at your location.

What is off-site document scanning?

Off-site scanning implies that your document scanning service provider will transport your documents to their nearest document scanning and conversion center. Documents are scanned and digitized at the scanning vendor's facility. 

All you have to do is decide which documents to digitize, sort and pack the papers in clearly labeled boxes, and hand them over to the scanning company for transportation to the off-site scanning facility.

Parting with valuable business documents is a cause for concern for most business owners. The idea of not having control of sensitive information can be worrying for managers, and operations teams may fret over the fact that documents they need for everyday usage may not be within easy reach once they are transported to the scanning facility.

A professional scanning company, however, will provide you with various reassurances to each of these challenges.

Before you choose a scanning company, be sure to review its processes and security protocols and ask for testimonials from companies that have used its services in the past. 

Data security must be your highest priority when deciding on a scanning vendor. Choose a scanning provider with a SOC 2 certified scanning facility, with 24-hour video surveillance and trained scanning staff vetted with security background checks. If your organization has to adhere to specific industry compliances such as HIPAA or HITECH, ensure that the scanning company you choose can comply with the mandatory regulations you need.



What are the advantages of off-site scanning? 

Off-site scanning can take a load off your in-house teams and give you a hassle-free way to digitize your business documents. 

In this section, we will review the benefits of transporting your documents to a third-party scanning provider's facility.


Professional scanning companies optimize their facilities and processes for speedy, efficient, and affordable digitization. They spend time and money in building their service offerings to take care of all aspects of client projects. Specialized equipment of the highest quality and experienced scanning technicians work almost around the clock to provide fast and efficient service. As a result, commercial scanning facilities can offer lower rates than customized on-site scanning units. Having said that, while most scanning vendors define standard rates for document preparation, scanning, and indexing, cost variations may occur depending on the volume, size and types of documents to be scanned. 

Faster Scanning

Since the scanning takes place in a full-scale scanning facility with production-grade scanners and a large team of skilled resources, off-site scanning is faster than on-site scanning. Document conversion centers are equipped with multiple high-quality, high-speed scanning machines, and leading scanning bureaus also offer 24x7 operations. They have a dedicated IT team that can take care of technical glitches and resolve problems quickly. In addition, they can easily ramp up the resources as required to increase efficiency. This ensures faster document scanning project execution.

Free-up time and space

Once you ship the physical documents to an off-site conversion facility, you leave your in-house staff free of the responsibility and hassle of monitoring the scanning or worrying about the scanning unit on your premises. You also have the option of shipping out your documents to an off-site facility much in advance so that you have the physical records out of your premises (but in an assured, safe, and secure location.)

Comprehensive service

When you opt for off-site scanning, the scanning company takes on the responsibility of handling every aspect of your conversion project—starting with logistical support to ensure your documents are picked up and securely transported to the scanning facility. Warehouse staff are adept at handling boxes for secure storage, ensuring that every box is traceable and that not a single document is misplaced or lost while in the scanning company's possession.

A project manager assigned to the project defines an efficient process, sets timelines, and ensures that there are no cost overruns. Trained technicians process batches of documents at production speed using state-of-the-art equipment. Technical support teams are available immediately if equipment breaks down, so operations run seamlessly. Quality assurance teams check that every document is scanned and each digital file is of high quality so that no information is lost or illegible after conversion. Finally, project managers take the responsibility to execute each client's requirements either for long-term off-site storage services or secure shredding of documents after scanning.

Are there any disadvantages to off-site scanning? 

When you outsource your document digitization project to an off-site scanning bureau, your documents are transported to the scanning company's premises. So, it is vital to identify an experienced and reputed document scanning company with well-defined processes to not just ensure high-quality scanning and data capture accuracy—but also guarantee complete data security during the scanning process.

Here are some aspects you may want to consider when you choose a scanning company for your off-site scanning project:

Transporting documents requires care

Transporting your documents to the scanning vendor's nearest scanning facility involves care, effort and cost. Working with an experienced vendor will ensure that no records are misplaced or damaged during transportation. DRS provides secure pickup and transport, so you never have to worry about transporting sensitive documents. We can also provide pick-and-pack services if your employees are not available to pack documents and create the manifests.

Can you retrieve your documents when you need them?

Sometimes, your team may urgently require a document that has been sent off for scanning. Check with your scanning company if they can guarantee a fast turnaround time for any documents you need during the scanning project period. You can request the project manager to take up the required documents for urgent scanning and have the digital copies transferred to you via email or secure FTP. The other option is to have the scanning company transport the required paper originals back to you for use.

At DRS, we promise you a 24-hour turnaround time to retrieve and return any document you may require during the project.

Compliance concerns

If your organization needs to comply with industry-mandated regulations, it is important to ascertain that your scanning company has the resources and certifications to adhere to IG or information management best practices and data security policies. 

For example, DRS Imaging has SOC 2-certified scanning bureaus across the US to cater to off-site scanning requirements, especially bulk scanning of high volumes of backfiles or legacy records.

Off-site document scanning is an appropriate choice for you when:

  • You don't have space within your premises for an on-site scanning setup.
  • You want to fast-track your document conversion with round-the-clock scanning.
  • You have a limited budget or want a cost-efficient digitization solution.

Just as every side has two coins, there are advantages and disadvantages to both on-site and off-site scanning. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before you arrive at your decision. Better still, connect with our document digitization experts to assess which option fits your requirements and will gain you the most traction in your journey toward strategic digitization. 

On-site vs off-site scanning services? DRS Imaging is always the right choice!

DRS Imaging specializes in secure, fast and accurate execution of on-site document scanning, off-site scanning projects and on-demand scanning. 

DRS Imaging is one of the leading scanning service providers in the United States.

We offer a full range of document scanning services within our secure facilities, and if you opt for on-site scanning—we send our equipment and technicians to your premises so confidential documents never have to leave your premises.

Our scanning bureaus are SOC 2-certified, so you never have to worry about the security of your data and the confidentiality of your business documents. Trust our trained staff to convert your paper archives to powerful data that is searchable and easily accessible from anywhere.

Our state-of-the-art scanning facilities are located in cities across the United States and are equipped with production-grade scanning hardware, including high-quality document scanners, check scanners, and specialized microfilm & microfiche scanners. Our team of trained scanning technicians and document management system experts meet the scanning needs of government, healthcare, retail, finance, education and other sectors under one roof.

We have executed over 50,000 document scanning projects, and several of the team have earned the coveted Certified Document Imaging Architect Award from CompTIA for mastery in document imaging and conversion.

We're helping businesses across the nation with scanning solutions to transform paper to digital formats, streamline business processes and automate workflows to improve speed and efficiency. 

Both on-site and off-site document scanning have their pros and cons. Every organization must choose the conversion process best suited to its needs.

We hope this guide has been useful in helping you understand if you should send your documents to our scanning bureaus or ask us to set up a scanning unit on your premises. 

If you need more input and guidance to choose between on-site and off-site scanning, speak with a DRS expert now!