There are still three days before Christmas, counting what's left of today. As we all know, some of the most intense gift-buying happens in the last few days before the holiday. What would we all do without deadlines?
You don't have to answer that.
Anyway, The Station brings this up because it has tested a couple of products that can make a perfect last-minute gift for just about anybody, and they involve data storage: Neat Company's desktop (NeatDesk) and mobile (NeatReceipts) records scanners.
The holidays aside, these devices can be a big plus for yourself at any time of the year. After all, who likes having to: a) hunt down paper receipts; b) assemble them for processing; c) fill out forms; d) make copies of everything; e) do all that nasty math; and f) file paper records that can get unwieldy very quickly?
The answer to that is: Not many people. These devices do all of the above and more, and literally are a joy to work with. Some people--and The Station is one--would almost rather not get reimbursed for mileage, parking, meals and other business-related expenses than to have to spend time and effort doing all that paperwork. Notice the term "almost."
Using either of these devices, a user can digitize receipts, business cards and documents into organized digital files (either PDFs, spreadsheets or text files) that are easy to use, easy to find and easy to share. You simply install the software onto a laptop or desktop PC, follow the instructions, watch a demo video and off you go into easy accounting land.
The Philadelphia, Pa.-based Neat Company's intelligent text recognition software handles all the heavy lifting. If you can flatten out a crumpled taxi receipt and feed it into the scanner, you can use these devices. When the paper goes in, the software identifies the key information from it and populates the right fields in the database. Of course, you need to check to make sure everything is entered correctly, but that's a lot better than entering it all yourself.
NeatDesk is the full-service desktop device that handles all documents; NeatReceipts is a mobile device designed to help business travelers take care of filing expense-related receipts while on the road. Note: NeatReceipts, which weighs about a pound and can easily fit into a briefcase or large purse, doesn't need a power connection; it plugs via USB cable into a PC, which can be a major help while on the road.
As the company claims, a Neat scanner really is a digital filing cabinet, because paper goes in, and the key information (dates, costs, business names, locations) goes into a digital file that can be searched upon. Since the receipts and other documents are scanned in total, the original paper can be pitched. You can always make a printout of the original, even after the important information is extracted and put into your folder.
When you return from your trip, all your expense information is there in one place to be tabulated into a report that any company accountant would dearly love to have. Therein lies another advantage of this type of data storage: Corporate numbers folks don't have to re-deal with all the paper you've already waded through. They get a complete report with copies of the receipts as needed, all in PDF.
Both Neat devices have features that are intuitive to use and have more searching and reporting power than most people will need. This is not only good for so-called "prosumers" but small business owners and corporate department heads who want to keep track of their spending and organize paperwork in a secure digital location.
What a way to spend your time in better ways.
With tax time coming around once again, The Station says check it out.