Document capture software is an intermediary application that sits between an image source (scanner, copier or folder) and an end destination. The software “captures” images and data, and has a focus on automating the process of scanning, splitting, extracting and exporting documents. It relies heavily on sub-technologies like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Advanced Data Extraction (ADE) for automation. Critical to the end result of capture software is the process of release or migration of documents and data to a back-end system or repository. Capture is typically referred to as a “front end” as it is usually the first line of operations to digitize paper documents. It is similar to document imaging and scanning software, but focuses on automation.
Posts Tagged ‘capture’
Buying Software Solutions to Eliminate the Pain
We work with many organizations that initially struggle with spending to eliminate their paper. Many low to mid level managers just see it as a cost of doing business, and they don’t dig deep into the true costs of running paper-based business. In reality, they are not alone. Below are some fantastic stats from the AIIM Paper Wars Study that took a deep, deep look into the problem:
44% of surveyed organizations cited they were only a mere 10% of the way to paper-free process.
23% cited they had made zero progress towards a paper free environment.
17% were chipping away at 5 or more processes per year.
So, why the lack of progress? Below are the top reasons:
- Lack of management initiatives or mandates
- Requirement for physical signatures
- Staff prefers paper
- Lack of understanding of paperless options
- Suppliers still work in paper
- Notion that legally, they still require paper
These are the top reasons, and they were many more.
So, if you are tired of the paper mess, and looking to justify a move to the digital office, what do you do? First off, let’s look at some costs associated with paper-based business, with some stats from AIIM:
- It costs an average of $20 to file a document
- It will cost you $120 in labor to find a misfiled document
- It will cost you $220 to reproduce a lost document
These costs incorporate labor and materials. You can outline many more costs, like mailing, searching for documents, manually entering invoice information, etc. These costs are well documented, and can be the crux of any justification. For specific departments or industry verticals, you can also drill into additional costs that might be associated with service level requirements, fines, and the impact of slow operations. So, take an organization that processes 10,000 documents per month. Let’s make an assumption that 3% are misfiled, and 1% are lost. Below is a tally:
- Filing of these documents will run $200,000
- Misfiled documents will run $36,000
- Lost documents will run $22,000
So, you are running a $250K+ operation just in paper $$ for every month you push pulp. Let’s say you have a rockin’ staff that are immune to paper cuts, and they can do it at a 1/5 of the cost. You are still at $50K per month. Now some may argue those staff need to be paid regardless of paper or not. But the big loss here are opportunity costs. What if those staff members could use that time for other tasks focused on growth, and not paper administration? You can see the true advantage of moving to a more efficient digital workflow and using document capture and scanning to facilitate the paperless office..
So, the next question is where to start? In my next post we will examine success factors, and give some tips on how to ease into the paperless world. Can’t wait? Want to read more? See our frequently asked question pages below for more info:
Document Automation: Before, During and After
As organizations try to become paperless, there are 3 key stages in digital transformation, and eliminating as much paper as possible. To truly achieve automation from end-to-end, all three stages need to be implemented. Here are some details:
- Capture – the capture stage can mean different things for different processes. If you have a stack of paper invoices, and are looking to automated you AP process, obviously a scanner with document capture software would be key. But take a broader look, and capture can apply to other areas. Maybe you have an AS400 that prints POs? Implementing a spool to pdf solution would create digital files rather than paper. Another area might be inbound fax, or perhaps email with attachments. The overall goal of capture is to set a virtual perimeter around your organization that captures inbound documents and data, and passes them to a line of business system or a workflow process.
- Workflow – a business process management suite or workflow tool can provide a means to move documents and data throughout your organization. It can be fed information from any capture process, and provides the ability to avoid “efficiency killers” like the email inbox or file share. Take for example a hospital that has referrals faxed to a number, they are captured and passed to a queue for processing by staff. This digital process provides maximum efficiency, prevents lost or overlooked items, and with reporting tools, management can have great insight into the process.
- Archive – So what happens when it’s all over? In today’s environment, documents and data need to be readily available for review, audit purposes and legal needs. Both workflow and capture can provide an integration to repositories for storage of document and information. Take the fax process outlined above. The final step could be an archive of the inbound fax and metadata into a specific SharePoint library, or perhaps an OnBase document repository. The archive provides easy search for processed information, and create a digital file cabinet for your organization.
As you evaluate your internal processes, and look to automate, make sure you approach all 3 stages of the document automation chain.
Making Sure Your PDFs Are Optimized with Metadata
PDFs are the standard in most organizations for archiving files as records. Whether you are scanning paper files to SharePoint for long-term archival, spooling your print files to PDF or converting your Office documents to PDF / A for long-term storage, there are some key things you need to know. From a scanning perspective, most scanners just produce an image based TIFF/PDF, barren if you will of all metadata. PDFs are a rich format that can become a long-term “suitcase” of metadata for storage and information. Here are some tips on how to make your PDFs complete records:
1. Make sure your Document Capture Software supports the PDF /A standard. PDF /A is a long-term archive standard for image files. It ensures the viability of the file in the long-term, allows embedding of metadata and can prevent alteration of the record. This is a must for any long-term archival of documents. For a summary on the PDF Archive standard, see Adobe’s summary PDFs for Long Term Archive
2. Populate the Standard PDF Headers. When creating a PDF through a document capture or conversion process, make sure you populate the PDF headers with metadata. The standard headers include: author, subject, keywords and title. Populating these fields can speed up searching and indexing, and makes sure critical information is secured about the record. Below is an example of an invoice that was scanned with a document capture application (iCapture), where the standard headers were packed with PDF information:
3. Build Complete Custom Headers for SharePoint Metadata. Advanced conversion software will build out custom PDF header information, and allow you to “tag” your documents. With this, the PDF can now become a redundant container for SharePoint Metadata column information with column name and metadata values. This is the ultimate in metadata packing, and creates a true portable PDF with all pertinent information. Below is an example of custom headers or properties, where invoice number, date, total and vendor are entered:
4. Always use OCR to create text and image PDFs . Using an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process will convert the image in the PDF into searchable text that can be crawled by SharePoint for the ultimate in searchability. This is a must for all documents.
Did I miss anything? Please comment with anything I missed.
Tips on Creating a Paperless Environment
So in our previous article, The Paperless Office: Is It Just a Dream, we discussed some statistics, and the key reasons why organizations don’t move towards an environment with less paper. In this post, we will discuss key focus areas for Paperless Project Success. Below are 5 Tips to Follow:
- Start Small and Grow – all too often I see organizations with broad reaching goals, and huge projects. Pick a key pain point, create a successful solution, learn you lessons and grow.
- Focus on Simplicity – technologists like to use a sledgehammer to pound in a nail. Always, always, use building blocks and start with the simplest solution that provides the maximum value.
- Find a Champion – forcing a project on an unwilling participant is always a recipe for failure. Find the person with the most paper pain in your organization and get full buy in.
- It’s About the Users – the technology will work, it is proven, but the biggest barrier you will face is user adoption. Time after time, I have seen users that just refuse to use scanning technology, and managers that let them. Educate, train and encourage.
- Track Success – building an internal case study with gains in efficiency and productivity, as well as cost savings is key. Once you have success, promote and expand.
These are some tips that can be used in the implementation of any paperless technology: advanced capture and scanning, digital forms, digital workflow/business process management, print to PDF or a digital archive. Want more info on these technologies? See our presentation on Key Tech for Paperless. Thoughts?