Considering purchase. Will DT help me?

Hi, all. I’m intrigued by the possibility that DT might help me organize my work life more efficiently, but I’m having a hard time seeing just how it might help.

Currently, I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap to scan all bills and invoices for two businesses (business A was recently sold; business B is just starting up), as well as for home. I also have an extensive collection of scanned articles (some OCR’d, some not) from medical journals.

The thing I most hate about scanning and organizing documents is naming and saving files. I feel I have to give files names that will allow me to find them again, but I hate having to take the time to check how I’ve previously named similar files (which vendor abbreviation did I use, did I list the invoice date or invoice number, etc.), and I hate having to worry about whether my folder organization is clear enough to allow me to find a file later on. Will I still have to worry about these things if I use DT?

My current practice is to scan an invoice and then save it to a folder (I organize folders by general bill type, then subfolders for each vendor) with a descriptive name (usually an abbreviation of the vendor name, followed by the invoice number or date). The invoice PDFs are not OCR’d. Because I’m lazy and hate the amount of time it takes to deal with files individually, I tend to scan invoices in batches. I’ll scan several months’ worth at one time (say, all invoices from Vendor X for the first quarter of 2012) and make one PDF. Then, every few years, I go through and use Acrobat Pro to consolidate many individual PDFs (say, all PDFs for Vendor X for the years 2005–2010) into one large PDF.

How would DEVONthink allow me to improve on this workflow? Because I’m just starting out with business B, now seems like a good time to revisit my current practices. I’d prefer not to let piles of invoices build up just so I can scan one month or quarter or year’s worth at a time, but the alternative—scanning invoices as they arrive—seems so inefficient. Would DT make this any easier?

Next, what can DT do with the medical articles database I’ve created that Spotlight doesn’t already do? For example, once I’ve OCR’d an article, Spotlight always seems to be able to find it. Why would I need DT? If DT would provide some advantage, would I be better off importing my existing medical PDFs into DT or having it index them? What do I gain and lose by importing and then deleting my existing folder structure?

Organizing articles into appropriate folders can sometimes be a pain because many articles fit in multiple categories. With DT can I quickly add tags to large batches of articles? Can I add tags while looking at PDFs (sort of like you can tag photos in iPhoto)?

Sorry this is so long and asks so many questions. I appreciate any comments.

Here are some comments for you.

Workflow: use the scansnap to scan directly into the dt inbox, which can automatically OCR every document. For renaming there are several renaming scripts available that will do batch renaming. For even more flexible renaming, try ‘A Better Finder Rename’.

The next part is something I’m still working on: grouping, classifying, tagging. You w opulent do all of this, they are basically alternatives. At this point I find the quickest way is to create smart groups (saved search folders).

Finally, I really like the search capability in the tools folder.

There are dozens of uses for it beyond organizing PDFs. Look through the manual for more about this.

This is absolutely the app for what you want to do. I set up a paperless office wit DT a year ago and it works like a charm for finding invoices etc. i recommend the book Take Control of Devonthink 2.