Dialing up the level and type of information you can capture and the efficiencies you can bring to the document management process can make a big difference in how your staff resources allocate their time. You already know that managing the many documents that your organization counts on to keep business rolling is a process. Sometimes it’s even an overwhelming process, especially if you are still (gasp!) using primarily paper documents.
With advanced capture technology in place, like Optical Character Recognition (OCR), for document management you can help your organization’s employees focus on more business-critical tasks and less on hunting down elusive document information and manual data entry.
Even if you’ve already stepped up from stuffing all those papers into assorted filing cabinets to digitally scanning your documents for safekeeping, there is still the issue of being able to access the right documents when you need them, like when a customer is on hold and quickly wants the information you’ve tucked away somewhere.
Chances are, your documents run the gamut from simple typed invoices or receipts to photos, PDFs, jpeg or bitmap-formatted documents like Excel and Word documents, or even the occasional handwritten document. How is that scan and store process working out? Can you find what you need easily from your current filing system? Could you use more fine-tuned access and classification of your critical information? Your document management system with OCR might be the extra boost your company needs.
What is Advanced OCR?
OCR technologies can read, extract, and convert ANY type of image, such as a bitmap, jpeg, png, pdf, Word, Excel, or tiff tile into digital text. These individual text fields can then be read and processed as data items that, with the right document management system, can be indexed and accessed with ease.
And, the data extracted for meta data purposes can also be passed to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) or line of business software (LOBS) with other data extracted, such as line item detail from invoice. With OCR and EDMS in place an organization’s accounts payable team doesn’t have to rekey this data to the ERP or LOBS.
It might help to think of advanced OCR as amped up scanning or intelligent capture. While humans use their brains and eyes to conduct optical character recognition and give those characters, letters, words, numbers, etc. meaning, computers need to have those images generated via an optical scanner to turn it into a graphic file, or picture of the page needing to be “read.” Computers can’t just read like people can, so OCR turns those “pictures” of text into actual, digitized text with the result being a TXT or maybe a DOC file from the scanned document. The technology can also look at an incoming document and determine what kind of document it is. So, if you are scanning an invoice packet it can classify each of the documents in the packet and then extract data dependent on the classification of the document without a human touch or risk of human error. These documents are then able to be read, classified, and processed.
While on its own, OCR can be an expensive technology, some of the more robust electronic data management systems (EDMS), like HelpSystems’ Webdocs Document Management have OCR capabilities built right into the software’s backend to take those captured documents and index all information into the full-text search engine. OCR within an EDMS is completely integrated on one platform for ease of use, efficiency, and affordability.
Webdocs employs an advanced capture IDC server for intelligent document capture (IDC) at the frontend of the process to automate document capture from scanned documents, a monitored network folder, and even a monitored email inbox for incoming documents that need processing. The IDC server automatically captures and classifies data from any source – a scan, email, fax, electronic file, etc. It then uses intelligent data recognition and extraction, along with document classification technology to process the data to help you use that data with your ERP or LOBS, removing manual data keying.
How does OCR work?
After the document is captured, the advanced OCR engine starts with classifying. Then, the IDC server will OCR the document, extract data from it based on the preconfigured definitions, or with the custom definitions you create, and extract data at two levels, either at the header/footer or, if need be, it can extract data all the way to line item detail. It can then be used in a two- or three-way matching process.
You can put nearly any type of document into your document storage system with advanced OCR technology. You can use the built-in Restful APIs or, data can be uploaded to a staging database for ERP/LOBS access. Or, if your system has capability to import data files like XML data, you can take the standard export file and use that to update your business system.
How Can You Use OCR for document management?
If you’re marching forward towards a paperless environment, advanced OCR can help you reach your goal. You can capture both paper and electronic documents into one central repository with EDMS and make those documents easier to find with document indexing. You’ll spend less time hunting for documents and more time providing the customer service or other information hand-off tasks you normally do. And you can spend that time savings to focus on more business-critical tasks.
Once you’ve captured your documents with OCR and index and store them in your EDMS you can rest easy knowing they will be stored safely and securely from external and even internal threats or from human error risks.
If you need to step up your organization’s game in terms of pairing OCR with document management software, take a look at what advanced HelpSystems’ solutions can do for you and your document management process.