Most small businesses share a common problem; they are awash in a mountain of paper. The mountain typically contains paper that's critical to operations, required for historical purposes or used for research. Nevertheless, it's a beast that needs to be tamed, and the Neat Company may just have the formula to whittle that paper monster down to size.
Keeping all that paper organized is a time-consuming process for harried small business owners and managers. Yet they often waste countless hours trying to find an important tidbit of information lost in the sea of papers scattered across multiple desks, file cabinets and inboxes. It's a major conundrum for most small businesses and SOHO (Small Office/ Home Office) environments.
What if you could just wave a magic wand and turn all of that paper into information that you can easily search, index and retrieve from anywhere? Wouldn’t that be great? The Neat Company aims to become that magic wand with an innovative pairing of cloud technology and scanning hardware, which the company designed to bring simplicity and automation to document management enthusiasts everywhere.
Document Management for Small Business
The Neat Company started out a few years ago as NeatReceipts, a company with the sole purpose of selling scanners and software that simplified the expense reporting process. Over time, the company’s scanning and software prowess grew into a full-fledged document management solution, albeit somewhat limited and focused on a single desktop user in a small office environment.
Figure 1: The NeatDesk Desktop Scanner + Digital Filing System.
Fast-forward to summer of 2012 and the Neat Company has launched two innovative services, NeatCloud and NeatMobile, which brings document management to those on the move and by its very nature, backs up scanned images to protect those files and their associated meta data from loss.
The services, which range from $5.99 to $24.99 a month, vary based on number of users and available features (see additional pricing information).
A Closer Look at Neat Document Management Products
The Neat Company shipped us a NeatDesk Desktop Scanner + Digital Filing System kit ($399.99 retail) for review, and set us up with a demo account for the NeatCloud and NeatMobile services. The kit included a Neat branded sheet-fed desktop scanner, which offers three input trays – one for documents, another for receipts and one for business cards.
The scanner's basic design, which features just two buttons (Scan and PDF), is quite intuitive – in other words, no one should have a problem using the device. The scanner’s sheet feeder handles multipage and double sided documents. The scanner's advertised capacity is 15 pages with speeds of up to 24 PPM (pages per minute) for color, grayscale and black-and-white documents at 300DPI.
The scanner offers a maximum resolution of 600DPI, which is useful for detailed or high-quality documents, but it's not necessary for most of the documents, receipts and business cards that most people have to deal with.
Truth be told, scanners are a dime a dozen; many companies make them, and very little differentiates them other than resolution, speed and price. That said, the bundled Neat scanner should prove more than adequate for most businesses – it's inexpensive, easy to use and speedy enough to tame mountains of documents.