No Excuses (None Necessary)

The reason that I started following Team Wilkerson was because of the pure, 100% no excuses attitude of driver / crew chief / owner (that would be Tim). After a race, whether he goes out in the first round (as happens to all racers from time to time), or he gets the win light, Tim offers a no-nonsense, no excuses explanation of what happened. Two weeks ago, Tim lost in the final round against John Force, due to a parts failure. No whining, no finger pointing, no blame game; that was an opportunity lost, plain and simple. This past week, when Tim beat John Force in the final round, it was pretty much the same story. John asked Tim if he had “hopped it up” for him. Tim said “I sure enough did because that’s what it took…” John owns the most successful operation in drag racing, he sits at the top of the points and he is always the man to beat. Tim knew that, and he planned for the race, he prepared himself and his car, and he WON!

So, what’s my no-nonsense story with respect to the problem we are having with our desktop scanners. Simply put, I didn’t follow through. When our current scanners started to exhibit their now chronic double-feeding problem, I should have fought harder with the manufacturer’s tech support. When I bought the wanna-be replacement scanner, I should have worked up-front with my sales rep, as she could have warned me about the issues that caused me to return it. When we leased our current MFC’s, I should have pressed for more details as to how they accomplish scanning to SharePoint. These are mistakes I will not make a second time. I am back in the market for desktop scanners, and I am focused on four things:

Paper Handling – No matter what we want these scanners to do with the images they produce, they first have to be able to get the paper from the feed tray to the output tray. I am keenly aware of the “rated speed” we want, and I understand what “rated speed” means. 15-ppm sounds good, but not if that’s only for black & white, single-sided, crisp clean 20lb paper at 200 dpi. I plan to load it up with the worst stuff we have, including those invoices we get that seem to be printed on tracing paper. I’m going to fill the hopper, scan in duplex mode at 300 dpi, time the job and count the jams.

Capture – We are not scanning forms, but we do switch from documents to images. We also scan documents that come in a variety of sizes. In any given week, my invoices range from 8 ½ x 11 to 5 x 8. We also have to scan old documents for archive and / or discovery purposes. The issues we face include: Can the scanner capture edge-to-edge? Can it scan off of a colored background? Can it capture notes and marks on the page? Can it be made to ignore those same marks?

Process – This is the biggest rat’s nest of scanner technology because so much of the scanner’s capabilities depends on software, either desktop or embedded that actually processes the image. Blank page removal, de-skewing, auto-rotation, PDF creation, OCR and searchable PDF creation, etc.; I could go on, but you know the song. What I will know this time before I buy a new scanner is, how many of these functions are implemented through software and what will it cost to license and keep that software up to date during the life of the scanner.

Disposition – Any scanner can put the resulting JPG, TIFF or PDF in a folder on my desktop. I want to incorporate the scanner into a business process, perhaps into a workflow, so I will be paying more attention to these capabilities. Obviously, scanning to SharePoint is key to my success, and I am going to be very critical of how that process really works.

These are simple things we should all do, all the time when we are spending money, especially when we are spending someone else’s money.

So there, I have a job to do, and I have to make sure I do it the way I know I should. Tim Wilkerson has a much more difficult job ahead of him, the Western Swing. Team Wilkerson is preparing for back-to-back-to-back races in Seattle, Sonoma and Denver, a triad that will test their stamina and their ability to pack that trailer with parts and supplies. I hope to have to re-write more blog entries during that short series – Go Tim!