What about your existing paper files?
It's important to understand that you don't have to start a document management solution with a total conversion of all your old paper files. Sometimes a "scan forward" approach works best.
In a scan forward implementation (also known as "day forward" or "forward scanning"), a cut-off date is chosen after which all new documents will be scanned. Existing paper records are only scanned if they're used - in many cases, documents that don't get scanned after a year can be archived or simply thrown away. This approach means you can get started much more quickly since there's no delay while a backlog of paper is scanned. Once the value of the system is proven, you can then decide to start scanning older files.
The scan forward approach isn't for everyone, though - for some businesses, access to paper files is essential. In those cases, you may consider using a back file scanning service. Document management vendors generally don't do back scanning for you, but they will be able to recommend a file scanning service. These niche vendors have expensive high-volume scanners and plenty of staffers to operate them - scanning millions of documents for a single customer is not uncommon.
Typically your documents will be shipped to or picked up by the scanning service provider, but you can also get on-site service. On-site may cost significantly more, but if your files contain highly sensitive material, it can be reassuring to keep them with you. Once the documents are scanned, the service can provide CDs of the resulting images or put them directly into your document management system (find out more about digital imaging solutions). They'll also destroy or return your paper documents, whichever you prefer.