Scanning Cost Estimation

How many Pages of Paper do I have?

High Filing Cabinet
In our previous article, we addressed some issues over whether there is a business case for considering document imaging / document scanning.

One of the first questions that needs to be answered when actually trying to calculate the return on investment for your backfile scanning, is how many pages need scanning?

This is the crux of your business case and is crucial for determining whether a return on investment is likely. Fortunately, calculating quantities of paper is not that difficult and just needs some key estimates and some simple arithmetic.

The basic formula for the calculation is to multiply the number of linear feet of documents you have by the average number of pages in a linear foot. Of course, if you don’t like using feet, you can swop it for any other unit of measurement you want, as the principle remains the same.

So, it seems fairly straight forward – you take your tape measure to your pile of papers to measure how many feet of documents you have, then get an average number of documents per foot from a few samples measuring a foot each, and then multiply the two numbers out. The secret here is to take samples from different positions in the pile, since the number of documents could easily vary between 500 and 2,000 per foot depending on how compressed the pages have become from the weight of the other documents on top of them.

The problem of course is that it is highly unlikely you are going to have piles of paper lying around to be measured using a tape measure (at least I hope not as they aren’t likely to survive for long!), so it is useful to have a few estimates available for the typical storage methods used in order to help speed up the process.

The following should help to get you started, although, as per the example above, the numbers can vary significantly from case to case, so it is important to test each estimate before committing them to your business case.

 – One inch of loose papers typically contains around 150 pages when reasonably compressed
 – A standard 4-drawer vertical filing cabinet usually contains around 11,000 pages
 – A horizontal filing cabinet stores around 5,000 pages per drawer
 – A normal 3-ring binder file holds around 100 pages
 – A lever-arch file has approximately 300 pages
 – A typical storage box stores between 1,800 and 2,500 pages
 – While the larger “banker’s box” stores around 4,000 pages

It is always worthwhile noting during the exercise which of your documents are single-sided and which are duplex, since it will make a difference in your cost calculations later.

Hopefully, these will give you a jump-start to developing that killer business case, but you should approach the document scanning experts if you require assistance.