Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Many Faces of Capture

Posted by Mark Brousseau

An interesting article by Jim Thumma of Optical Image Technology on the Many Faces of Capture:

The Many Faces of Capture
By Jim Thumma, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Optical Image Technology

Business efficiency starts with the capture of quality data. Whether your information is stored on paper or mixed media, you need accurate, readable information to make sound decisions. After all, data drives every business transaction you make. If images are skewed, characters are illegible, or data don’t match collection criteria and require follow-up, organizational productivity is hindered. To be useful, data must be readable and reliable.

Successful capture requires hardware and software that enable:

- easy, fast capture of documents, images, and content;
- accurate recognition of data within each document/image: de-skewing, de-speckling, or otherwise adjusting for clarity;
- validation, using custom rules for data verification (i.e., a date field allowing only numeric information, or a name field permitting only alphanumeric characters);
- meticulous classification, so people with varying needs can locate needed information later.

What kind of capture is right for you?

Barcode recognition software – If you process high volumes of routine documents such as insurance claims, or college or loan applications, bar code recognition may be appropriate for you. It’s fast and precise, requiring no manual verification because of its inherent accuracy. Using recognition technologies, the software accurately identifies batches and document types and supplies specific document-related information.

Signature capture devices – If your staff needs to obtain point-of-transaction signatures from clients, electronic signature pads make collection much easier. Electronic signature software that’s part of browser-based EDM and workflow eliminates frustrating delays and keeps related business processes moving.

Scanning software – Scanning is the most common method of capture, and for many, it’s the most convenient. Whether you need desktop scanning for lighter demands or high-volume scanners that feed, sort, and classify documents in batches, consider your document requirements carefully:

OCR – Optical character recognition captures type on documents electronically, eliminating tedious, costly, error-prone manual entry.
ICR – Intelligent character recognition captures hand-written letters and characters, using smart technology to verify accuracy or request manual verification.
OMR – Optical mark recognition is highly specialized software, used to capture check marks in boxes, filled-in bubbles, and other shape-filled information on structured forms.

Multi-functional peripherals (MFPs) with scanning capabilities – If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, MFPs are a great place to start, although you may need EDM for verification and correction. By integrating with EDM software, you can also expand indexing capabilities beyond the limited fields most MFPs allow, making documents and their contents easier to retrieve.

Web-based electronic forms – Adding e-forms as part of a document management system has several advantages:

- Eliminates faulty data by using drop-down menus to guide data entry;
- Increases data accuracy by giving clients ownership of self-submitted information;
- Automates indexing, making information useful as it’s collected.

If you routinely collect customer information, want to eliminate waste and provide customers 24/7 convenience, e-forms are an excellent choice.

Fax capture – If you currently distribute faxes manually or frequently have to follow up with senders about incomplete or poor-quality transmissions, fax capture is worth considering. Data transmitted via fax can be captured, indexed, stored, and routed electronically to appropriate staff Inboxes using automated workflow, saving time.

Email management –Up to 90% of business communications take place via email, so efficient capture and archival of important emails as records is vital. If you use email management (part of an integrated EDM suite) to sort, index, and store emails logically, you’ll be prepared if you are subpoenaed for information or your emails are subject to investigation and audits.

Digital capture alone doesn’t result in efficiency, but quality capture is the first step to achieving it. Understand your needs, evaluate vendors carefully, and choose wisely!

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