Digital Image Planning

Carefully planned and implemented with sufficient forethought and resources, digital image systems can solve several office information management problems. But their adoption requires careful planning in regard to 11 key issues. The Archives recommends that every campus office give thought to these issues before contracting with a vendor to image records or purchase a digital imaging/document management system.

Value of the Records Proposed for Imaging

What is the legal, administrative, or historical value of the records being proposed for imaging? Will the cost of imaging the records bring significant benefits to the unit? For example, it may be more cost effective to simply store paper based records with little or no long-term value (for example, financial or student records).

Illinois State Records Act

If the intent of the system is to allow the disposal of the original records, separate approval will be needed before the imaged originals can be discarded. The rules of the state records commission require that any records with more than 10 years value be retained in paper or microfilm format.

System Design Objective

What is the business purpose of the project? Does the purpose and projected use suggest about the design of the system, types of access, and technical issues? For example,  if the purpose is to broaden access, what types of workstations will be needed and will the system be able to handle the load of multiple requests simultaneously?

Routine Document Processing

How will imaging be incorporated into daily work cycle? Who does it? How is completeness assured? How is quality obtained and monitored? What post-imaging inspection will be done?

Disposition of Original Source Documents

What will be done with them? When and at what frequency? How will a systematic filing system be maintained and assured? It is not acceptable to simply stack the scanned documents into an undifferentiated mass if they are to have value as legal evidence and historical records.

Access Conditions

Who will have access to the imaged files? How will security be maintained – security for confidentiality, loss, spurious addition, malicious corruption, or deletion? Will the image system reduce or increase the administrative burden for compliance with law suits, subpoenas, and discovery requests?

Authenticity and Completeness of the File

How is authenticity of the image files assured at the time of 1) imaging; 2) active use; 3) during system migration?

Legibility and Comprehensibility

How well will the system ensure legibility and intelligibility of the documents? How will it maintain contextual information?  In other words, how will users be able to find and view organically related documents, such as explanatory cover letters for analytical reports, and determine the document’s creator?


Are there segments of the file of such transient value they do not merit imaging or long-term retention in the system? Can such general criteria for selection be identified in a fashion to isolate entire categories by type of material?

Longevity of the System and its Content

What is the prospect for the vendor’s future? How tested and reliable is the hardware, software, and application design of the system? What is the vendor’s track record for comparable projects? To what government and industry standards does the vendor adhere? How readily can data be migrated to other systems by your staff? How readily can indexing system be migrated to other systems by your staff? Will University of Illinois data be controlled and accessed through proprietary hardware, software, or access systems?

Storage Media

What media are being used? How broadly accessible are those media? How fragile/durable are the media? What is the projected life cycle of the medium in regard to each of three aspects–physical stability, information retention, and access system obsolescence. How portable, modular are the media?