Inefficient paperwork and digital processes commonly waste time and frustrate employees. Wakefield Research surveyed and found even with digital files, more than half of US workers report wasting time searching for files. But what if it were possible to shift the process from wasteful time lost to useful digital assets?
First, for many organizations, transforming wasteful paperwork or file processes will need to begin with the digitization of paper documents. This process alone has proven to be a key factor in lowering administration costs, improving worker efficiency, and avoiding data loss. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, costs for storing, copying, printing, and disposing can add up to 31 times more than the cost of purchasing paper in the first place. So, a document capture solution is the first step in converting physical paper into digital assets.
Document Capture Essentials
There are some important features a basic good document capture software tool should have. First, as remote work grows in popularity and increasingly as a business requirement, support for multiple platforms is important. Access to the office scanner will not always be possible. Also, not all employees have dedicated scanners at home, particularly ones to handle large jobs.
So, converting some tech devices into possible scanners is important. This means smartphones, tablets, and even webcams. Furthermore, cross-platform extends beyond just devices. Another consideration is the operating systems used. Today, an employee might use Windows or macOS while at their desk and then need to be on iOS or Android while on the go.
Going the route of creating dedicated apps is likely inefficient for such a business scenario where many devices and operating systems are at play. Instead, an organization can build an online or cloud application that can be accessed and used on any common web browser, like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, and so on, that is also available on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
There are also other basic but important considerations, like security features. A business will want to employ HTTPS access for its web application and SSL for added security. Other basic but essential security mechanisms would include access authorization requirements like passwords, encryption of information on hard disks, possibly during transport over the Internet, and more.
Of course, performance is paramount. This means ensuring document scanning without application overload. One frequent problem of poor document capture tools is overloading memory. It will render a document capture solution useless, particularly the larger the job. As a result, a common best practice is to balance memory used for scanning with local caching mechanisms. Good software will do this well.
Finally, you will need to consider robustness. For example, how might your document capture application further maximize creating digital assets? Typically, this is through added basic but useful features like barcoding and optical character recognition (OCR). More advanced features might include artificial intelligence capabilities.
Advanced Document Capture Software Requirements
Ensuring employees can use any device to capture documents is an important process. Their collective capturing of files from anywhere helps convert paper files to digital assets. But there will likely be a central location for most document capture to take place. Commonly, this is at the office’s multifunction printer (MFP). Here, users can scan a batch of paper documents and key in the related information to save to a database.
Automation components such as these are the next evolution in turning physical content into digital assets. One can imagine a file that has names, addresses, locations, transaction details, and much more, can be repurposed for many other uses. Here is where optical character recognition can be the foundation for digital assets becoming digital knowledge.
What is Optical Character Recognition?
OCR lets a user take paper files and convert what is written on them into digital content. It makes what would otherwise be a file only to read with your eyes into digital data that can be manipulated into meaningful information. It uses many technologies to arrive at this speed.
In the end, it means you can now search for a document and use the content for many things. Imagine if you have a 200-page document and you need to find everywhere that the word “ACME corporation” exists in that document. Physically doing this is daunting. What if you miss an instance? OCR does this for you in seconds. Now, disparate content across files can be evaluated together for digital intelligence.
There are many common OCR uses. Healthcare organizations continue to adopt the electronic healthcare record (EHR) and OCR plays a role here, such as capturing insurance forms, ID cards, and more. In banking, it is used to process checks via mobile deposits. The accounting department might use it to automate receipt capture for an employee’s expense report.
In any of these scenarios, the information captured can transform into useful knowledge. In an EHR, insurance claim processing can be measured for speed. Mobile deposits can be used to mitigate fraud. Accounting can more easily limit expenses, and more.
Maximizing OCR with Proper Setup
As useful as OCR can be, improper implementation can result in many errors in the data captured. Ensuring basic performance is important. The first is resolution. To account for small font sizes, 300 DPI resolution is ideal when scanning. For very small fonts, perhaps eight-point and smaller, up to 600 dpi might be needed.
Also, scanning using grayscale is best to reduce issues with contrast. Compared with color or black and white, grayscale can capture more details. Image compression should be avoided. If necessary, go with lossless compression. This basically means there is no compression applied to an image, thus it maintains its original resolution. Finally, brightness settings will have an impact. Usually, a medium brightness value of 50 percent is best in most cases.
Document capture can be a foundation for turning paperwork into digital assets. This can also turn into long-term cost savings. But, like every investment, there are important basic elements to ensuring document capture is a boon to your organization rather than an additional hindrance.