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Quality Control of Document Imaging or Scanning - September 2001

How does one know if ones scanner is doing its thing, correctly?

How does one know that the courts will accept ones scanned images if one is not keeping a daily record of the scanners performance?

How does one know that the images scanned are a true facsimile of the original?

Since 1988, YES 1988! There has been a standard for the evaluation of Document Image Scanners. That standard is the ANSI/AIIM MS44-1988 - Recommended Practice for Quality Control of Image Scanners, a 19 page document which, on my reading may be getting a little dated 13 years out from its inception, but still a CRITICAL document.

Who were involved with the creation of this standard? Access Corp, AT&T Bell Labs, Bell &Amp; Howell, Canon USA Inc, Eastman Kodak, File Net Corp, Library of Congress, 3M Company, Nara-National Archives & Records Administration, Smithsonian Archives, Unisys, US Army, Wang Lab, Wicks & Wilson & The Xerox Corporation. These are only some of the parties represented, the lists goes on & on.

Why is it that some 13 years after the creation of this standard that I hear laughter when I advise people of the availability of a Resolution Test Target for Scanners that I am marketing to the Australian Market? I hear this laughter from people who should know better.

How can one possible prove that the processes that one uses every day in ones capture of incoming correspondence if one does not have in place a process to check on the operation of ones scanner and to document that process for future needs should one be required to prove the validity of ones scanned images. The Australian Standard AS4390 calls for a record to be inviolate; section 5.3 Full and accurate records: Records should be full and accurate to the extent necessary to- (viii) Inviolate Records must etc. and that; No information in a record should be deleted, altered or lost once the transaction that it documents has occurred.

How can one possibly meet this AS4390 requirement if one is uncertain that the information scanned into the organisations records and information system is not checked so as to be certain that no data is lost at the point of input at the scanner and a detailed record of the process recorded as required by MS44-1988?

On the day in question was my scanner up to scratch? Was it running on two cylinders instead of the required eight? Had the settings been altered down to 75 X 75 DPI without my knowledge from my usual 300 X 300 DPI? Has the lamp been deteriorating over time and is now at a point where the image looks OK on a monitor but looses data when I print it out?

The list of possible variabilities and potential failures goes on ad infinitum.

Laurie Varendorff ARMA

The Author

Laurie Varendorff, ARMA, a former RMAA Western Australia Branch president and national director, has been involved in records management for 30 years. He has his own consulting and training business near Perth, Western Australia, and has tutored in recordkeeping and archival storage and preservation at Perth’s Edith Cowan University. Phone: +61 (0)8 9291 6925; mobile: 0417 094 147; email @ Laurie Varendorff

Please Note: This article has recently been reproduced with permission in the publication - inFocus - The Quarterly Journal of PRISM International in their September 2004 Edition on page (22).

The author, Laurie Varendorff of the Varendorff Records Management Consultancy - TVC - Helping clients manage their e-World gives permission for the redistribution or republishing of this article by individuals and non profit professional organisations without cost based on the condition that he as well as the URL of the article are recognised at the introduction of the article when redistributed or republished.

SPECIAL NOTE: Use of this article by publishers, commercial, government, or educational organisations requires a financial agreement to be negotiated with Laurie as the copyright holder for this work.