In any paperless initiative, you first need to take a good look at the documents being managed and determine the best way to minimize the effort for their digital conversion. Scanning paper is no longer an issue since high speed scanning is readily available through the use of a multifunctional printer (MFP) and desktop scanners. The real challenge is how to file your documents so they can quickly and easily be found when needed. The ultimate goal of digital filing (also known as indexing) is to automate this process by extracting data through capture techniques.

Finding the right method for your organization can be extremely beneficial. Three of the most common data extraction tools used by paperless businesses are Barcode Recognition, Zonal Based Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Database Look Ups. Each of these are powerful tools; knowing how to use them to your advantage can dramatically improve efficiency of your paperless initiative.

Barcode Recognition: Barcodes are considered old technology but their simplicity is their strength and unparalleled degree of accuracy. Barcode recognition automates the capture and indexing of documents to eliminate the need for user intervention. In order to leverage the power of barcodes you must incorporate them into your documents through barcode applications. Inserted barcodes will notify the system of a new batch of papers within a complete document for proper indexing of multi-paged files. They also can hold key pieces of information such as an invoice number. Adding the barcode font is a simple process and there are many available on the web at little or no cost. A barcode sticker or cover sheet is another option to consider.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR): OCR is a powerful option which offers the possibility of eliminating data entry all together. OCR grants the ability to convert a picture of an image into high value data, which can be used to index your records. OCR will eliminate much of the work surrounding manual indexing by delivering to represent enormous cost savings. Sometimes, papers shift during the scanning process, but by creating an “anchor point” for your OCR template, the system will identify any movement in paper position to register the zone and deliver higher rates of accuracy. Image enhancement tools also allow you to remove errant pixels or remove color backgrounds that might impede effective results. Finally, your OCR capture process should include technology that reports back confidence on what it has extracted as well as questionable results. This ensures accuracy of your data. In fact, many organizations go from four data entry operators to a single quality assurance administrator thus reducing their capture costs by 75%.

Database Lookups: Using database lookups will easily automate indexing by re-using data that has already been captured. This will eliminate the need to perform data entry twice. Typically database lookups would be used in conjunction with Barcode Recognition or Optical Character Recognition to fully automate the capture process. A barcode containing a key piece of information, such as the order number, can be easily generated from the order entry screen allowing the order processor to affix it as a sticker or cover sheet prior to capture. During the scanning process, the barcode will be read capturing the key piece of data that we will use for the database lookup. At the same time, the barcode can automatically separate the batch of documents into individual records. Now that we have our documents scanned, separated and indexed, the database lookup can be utilized to pull over any additional information about the record such as customer name, terms, amounts, etc. Since all this information already resides, it is a simple process to schedule a batch update using a database look up to complete your indexing.

We encourage you to explore ways to automate the capture of your documents. The benefit an automated capture process provides will provide profitable returns for years to come.

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