By Anthony Vigliotti
In the office, paperwork comes in many forms. Sales orders, loan applications, requests for insurance quotes, benefits enrollment applications, service agreements, price quotes, the list of different document types would itself take up multiple pages. Paperwork is monotonous, but the importance of the data contained in the documents cannot be overstated. The success of an enterprise relies heavily on employees’ ability to quickly manipulate, process and safeguard this information.
To deal with the glut of paperwork, many businesses turn to document capture – transitioning paper documents into a digital format. By transforming all the paper, and the valuable content within, into a digital document, offices can then streamline the flow of information by creating and leveraging digital workflows, where files are directly routed electronically to the intended recipient or file destination. This is inherently faster and more secure than passing papers back and forth, yet a recent AIMM Industry Watch Report found that only 17 percent of offices can be described as “paper free,” with 40 percent still using paper filing for “important stuff”.
The challenges don’t stop there. Once the data is digitized through document capture, it must be ingested and integrated into the appropriate systems and workflows. There are numerous document capture options available to enable this and picking the right one depends on what’s right for your organization and its employees.
Digital Office Done Right
Transitioning physical documents into digital files is an obvious solution to cut down on paper use. Additionally, technology advances enable devices to capture & create digital copies, extract information from the document, and automate the movement & security of that information within the organization.
There are software solutions on the market today that enable devices to do the following:
- Document Filing – Optical character recognition (OCR) technology paired with classification capabilities enables characteristics of the document to be understood. For example, the technology could recognize a scanned document as an invoice and automatically route it to accounts payable.
- Information Privacy – Document capture software can identify potentially sensitive or private data. For heightened security, social security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) can be identified and automatically redacted.
- Information Verification – Parameters can be put in place to ensure that scanned documents are only sent to appropriate recipients. Email addresses can be “white listed” to prevent files from being sent, accidentally or maliciously, at the point of scanning to improper destinations.
Finding the Right Document Capture Tools Depends on the Application
Document capture tools generally fall into two categories: centralized and distributed. They offer widely different capabilities, and technology decision-makers must understand their employees’ workflow needs before selecting the right solution.
Typically run on desktop computers and connected to larger sheet-fed scanners, centralized document capture software is primarily used by trained workers. This is a solution commonly used as a capture workstation in a production center, such as a mailroom, where high volumes of paper can be captured in one large batch. With sophisticated automation technology, paper feed capacity for hundreds of sheets of paper, and fast powerful scanning capabilities, centralized document capture would be excessive for many offices, but is a solution for companies looking to convert thousands of paper files into searchable PDFs and store them securely in a structured repository, either locally or in the cloud.
Lightweight applications running on up to thousands of devices, distributed document capture can be accessed by numerous employees from their laptops, smart phones and on office MFPs. With all users connected to the same system, workers can quickly and frequently capture and process small volumes of documents. For example, a salesperson on the road can take a photo of a sales contract with his/her smartphone, automatically convert the photo to a PDF and route the file to the appropriate recipient within the organization’s system.
Digital Transition and Transformation
Many companies understand the concept of document capture but aren’t aware of how much it can help them. Fueled by this lack of awareness, today, most capture technology has been deployed in centralized, back-office configurations. Perhaps as a result of this centralized approach, a 2017 AIIM Industry Watch Report on Improving Business Operations found that 58 percent of respondents described their inbound handling of content as ad-hoc.
More accessible, distributed document capture capabilities improve productivity and increase worker efficiency while promoting security. The embedded security features reduce the onus on workers to manually comply with business rules allowing efficient productive workflows, without compromising security. There are key capabilities available in the market and picking the right one depends on understanding the common security and productivity requirements of each enterprise.
Anthony Vigliotti leads the Commercial Product Management team for Kofax’s Print Management and Document Capture portfolio. Anthony Vigliotti, Senior Director of Kofax Commercial Product Management.