Written by Ana Canteli on 12 january 2018
Many organizations experience great difficulties to automate processes of custody and management of their documentation. In fact, the promise of the "paperless office" continues to be an elusive reality, decades after the term was used for the first time.
Document scanning features, scanner and capture technologies are not new. But the frequency and manner in which these tools are being applied, allow all companies - from small and medium to large - to increase the possibilities of automating their processes, while reducing costs; as part of the strategy in document management.
To understand how the capture of documents fits into the context of the strategy in document management, it is important to bear in mind that there are 2 levels in the document capture process.
The first level is the capture of documents in its simplest and most obvious version: the act of scanning documents to create digital versions of them.
But new features in enterprise content management systems and intelligent management are making possible, to use these tools to optimize document management as a whole.
The 2nd level involves collecting information from the content of the printed document, or its digital version and linking that data to the file in the document management system. The capture software is responsible for isolating and extracting data in documents and converting them into metadata. The resulting metadata will make possible the document management allowing a quick search and obtaining of results, through the devices of the organization.
Thus document capture software can offer this information to a multitude of databases and applications - for example ERP's - or internal processes, which demand high-value data. We must understand all this as part of a pre-established workflow within the organization. In addition, the most advanced document extraction capabilities go beyond the simple capture of various types of files; and have evolved into intelligent capture technologies, which allow systems to read handwritten documents, or map data fields within files. In this aspect, OpenKM includes KEA, an automatic system for extracting key words or phrases from a document; based on machine learning (IA) solutions.
The strategic value of document capture lies in its ability to unlock the data contained in those printed pages, as well as to integrate this data into the workflow of the organization. For this reason, many organizations are realizing that their ERP or CRM systems are not as efficient and effective as they could be; since many procedures on which these systems are based, are not automated due to paper. In other words, a document management system is the ideal complement for these applications, complementing the workflow of the organization with custody and document capture software processes. It is what makes it really valuable to do what is necessary to improve the architecture of information. This is how documentary capture initiatives or efforts related to the integration of electronic documents in business processes, provide a higher profitability than many other IT projects.
It is also important that the document management software offers support to elements such as forms or communications by mail; procedures that are usually done on paper. In OpenKM, users can manage the forms of the organization using "Templates"; claim forms, applications to vacancies, requests, etc. or official communications. Because paper will not disappear overnight and must be taken into account strategically, when implementing the document management system.
The purchase of document capture devices should include a clear policy of capture and retention of documents, as part of the document management system.
One consideration that should be obvious but that many organizations ignore is "avoid digitalize everything - be selective". Whether due to ignorance or apathy, many organizations do not try to limit the process of capturing documents and end up scanning huge amounts of files, some of which should not even be digitized.
It is in these circumstances, in which all documents go directly to the process of capture, when it is not surprising that people are not willing to take the time separate the wheat from the chaff. So once the electronic document is created, it is most likely that it will never be used again.
In the past, companies had warehouses to store millions of documents. In the digital era the indiscriminate capture of them, makes us fall into the same mistake.
In many companies the electronic document management is disjointed, if not outside the traditional document management. There are managers who act as if paper documentation does not exist. Others consider that the document capture means scan and apply zone OCR (optical character recognition) solutions.
To allow the capture of documents and be able to use the search engine of the document management software as if it were Google; tools such as zone OCR are just one, among the many offered by the system and should be used in the digital capture process.
To begin with, before carrying out the capture of documents, they should be indexed - either manually (when we select a series of documents and put them in the scanner tray) or automatically by the document management software -.
When should documents be captured and indexed? The sooner, the better; because the delay in the addition of the documents to the management system, can cause users to search on information that they do not find; and then they are forced to make decisions, based on incomplete information. Cases such as this, can compromise the reliability of the company's information system.
A standard data capture process usually generates TIFF or PDF files. In addition, the content management system can, in parallel, extract high value information from the contents of the file, as metadata. Information that can feed other applications, such as an ERP. The main reason for using document capture and digitization technologies is to improve the search and retrieve of information and be able to share knowledge throughout the organization. Followed by matching objectives such as increasing productivity, reducing costs, improving customer service, etc. Do not forget that today, companies are forced to reduce costs, but at the same time they have to remain profitable. One way to achieve this, is through process automation.
The OpenKM document managerment system allows the automation of business processes and procedures, so that the software contributes to compliance with the policies, rules and laws that the organization must observe.
But we must bear in mind that in order to make effective the new technologies in capture and document imaging, we have to compromise the entire document management system with them.
A repository composed of documents digitized in an adequate and consistent manner is very important, especially for companies in highly regulated sectors. But actually any organization can benefit from a repository of these characteristics. They reduce costs in time, money and frustration on the part of the users who find the information that they are looking for. However, human errors can call into question the consistency and reliability of the document management system. That is why the automated processes of capture and document imaging of files are essential to minimize these risks.
OpenKM offers documentation capture facilities, from text extractors to Optical Character Recognition, which can work online with multifunction devices - intelligent document capture -. Scan technologies ( OpenKM has its own scanner client ) or third applications, thanks to SKD's in JAVA, PHP and .NET that allow to integrate the document management solution or enterprise content management system, with any software. It also incorporates a workflow engine, which allows organizations to enjoy all these features to create the suitable document management system.
In this way, the documentation that is generated, or introduced in the company, can be captured and digitized through the devices, integrated with the document management system or enterprise content management system; that indexes and classifies the information.
This information, extracted and linked to the file, can be the subject to an automated business process -workflow- that makes that most decisions are made according to the company's policies; thus minimizing the possibilities of error, accelerating the process cycle, and increasing productivity. On the other hand, the workflow can make documents named in such a way, that the files are easy to find. Not for nothing, on many occasions, we have found documents whose name only made sense for their authors. In addition, the use of workflows alongside with the technologies of document capture and document imaging of files, ensure that the resulting documentation reaches the intended recipient; avoiding the loss of documentation or non-compliance with regulations.
This system architecture can be updated, so that end users do not even have to be aware of any changes. They can use the new version of the automated business process, as usual; and the capture, processing and delivery phases will take place without apparent changes.
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