Document Capture – Paper, Digital, Data
While this is a digital age, there is still a lot of information that companies and organizations receive, access and store as paper.
If your organization depends upon paper documents, just what does “document capture,” also known as "document scanning" mean? Quite simply, paper-based document capture starts with the person who receives the mail slicing open the envelopes, removing the documents, sorting them based upon where they need to be delivered, then physically taking them to the person to whom they are addressed. That person then “processes” the document (for instance, pays an invoice), then files it for future reference.
Paper document capture requires many steps and requires the document to be physically handled by many people. The possibility of error or loss increases every time the paper is handled.
Organizations who use EDM (electronic document management) eliminate the need for most of the physical handling of paper documents, reducing the likelihood of error or loss, while also speeding document processing.
EDM enables document capture via the process of scanning all documents at the point of entry into the organization. The mail is received, sometimes at a remote facility, where it is scanned, OCR’d, indexed and automatically forwarded to the person who needs to handle it. What can take an entire business day in a paper-based organization happens in a matter of minutes in a paperless organization. When captured and scanned correctly, these digital documents are as “legal” as the original document, and far less likely to be lost.
The “expense” of scanning and EDM becomes an asset when the informational data that is locked in paper documents is freed through digitization. Just how does this happen? Data is a depreciating asset, subject to change with the vagaries of the marketplace. Business decisions are time-sensitive and must be based upon current data. Digital documents enable stake-holders to quickly search, retrieve, and analyze the data contained within their organization’s documents and capitalize on this internal knowledge in their business transactions.
Big Data for Small Companies
While large organizations have been touting “big data” for several years, we think that 2016 was the turning point for small businesses and the “big” data their documents contain. We’ve seen more small businesses decide to capture, store, process and extract data from their paper documents than ever before. From simple time-and-cost saving solutions like automating accounts payable and electronic storage of documents, to complex workflows and the extraction of complicated information from both structured and unstructured data, small businesses are joining in the search for data that can impact their business decisions and increase their profitability.
Data Starts with Capture
If your business still maintains paper files, then you have a potential gold mine of data that you’re not using to advantage. But, it’s easy to get lost in the perceived enormity of capturing that data. So, the answer to the question of how to get to the data starts with scanning. The faster you harness the incoming data the sooner you have access to the information the flows into your organization daily in paper form. Whether you start your document scanning / data capture journey with one department or company-wide, the important thing is to start.