Capture…Where Do You Stand?

By definition capture is composed of two parts: (1) capturing a document and converting it into an electronic image and (2) capturing data from a form or document. When combined documents (and forms) can be stored and indexed into various systems based on the type of document and the data captured.  Capturing the data can also serve as a way to move data into other systems to help facilitate back office processes (e.g. accounts payable, claims processing).

The actual scanning of a document and transforming it into an electronic image is not a new concept. In fact many companies have been doing this for years. Even capturing data from a document  (manual or automated) is not revolutionary. Recognizing machine printed text, hand print,  bar codes and marks are done by sophisticated engines that have been around for years.

But even though the core technologies that make up capture are really not new and scanning a document may not  be as interesting as what the new iPhone or iPad can do, the opportunity to use this technology to create a business advantage is still very much alive.

Paper – not a thing of the past

The chances are your business is not all digital. While many businesses have put in place “keep it green” initiatives which has reduced the amount of paper we generate,  much of the paper that gets generated happens because of the following:

  • Paper coming from outside the business that you have no control over
  • Business processes may be partially electronic (application is filled out online), but capturing information like a signature forces a user to print document which then later needs to be scanned.
  • A process may start electronic, but supporting documents (e.g. photo ID, copy of a certificate, pay stubs, etc) come in as paper and must be associated with the electronic record/process.

So as you can see there are lots of scenarios where paper just isn’t going away.

Paper and capture – where do you stand?

So where does your organization stand today when it comes to managing and processing paper?  Well you have two groups – those that have nothing in place to capture documents and those who are using capture at varying degrees. Those that are using capture today are using it in various ways that drive some overlapping benefits and other benefits that can only be achieved through capture solutions that provide advanced capabilities. Here’s a list of where different organizations fall based on their use (or lack of use) of capture:

1) Paper is everywhere and we have nothing to manage it – You have nothing in place that allows you to transform paper into electronic information and store it. Paper is a major pain for your company, and likely impacts how employees interact and communicate with one another, and how quickly you can respond to your customer and partner needs. This scenario is not something companies strive for.

2) Scan to archive – You are using capture primarily at the end of the process with the goal to store the paper electronically for improved access to the information and also for compliance/security reasons. Even this simple approach to getting ones arms around paper can drive significant value.

3) Capturing and routing documents – You are using capture farther upstream in places like a mailroom or even at regional/branch offices. Documents are being captured along with some business data, and based on the content, documents are routed to various systems, processes, and people. Often this use of capture supports various areas of a business like a claims department.

4) Capture for critical business processess – Good examples  of where capture is being used for critical line of business processes would be claims, new account opening, loan processing, and case based type applications. To use capture in these types of examples requires that organizations have invested in other solutions (e.g. Documentum xCP) that be used in combination with capture to deliver a full end-to-end solution.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

Okay, so the old dog is “capture”.  But that old dog still has many dog years left thanks to our dependence on paper.  So how do you teach it new tricks? Well it is not really about tricks rather it is about getting the most out of the old dog. And how you do that depends on what you have or don’t have today.

New tricks or better put “techniques” that driver greater value from a capture solutions include:

(1) Document classification – turning an unclassified document into a defined type. This will speed processing and minimize manual processing steps. The old way is to sort, barcode everything, and use separator sheets to indicate when a new document type begins and ends.

(2) Data extraction – recognizing the data rather than keying it. A key element to this is being able to capture data both zonally and through the use of free-form rules. Automated capture complimented with validation and auto-filling data of fields from other systems can or better put “will” reduce operational costs, not to mention it is a lot faster than manually keying it.

Focus on documents and processes that deliver high value to the organization

The best place to start is pick an area of the business that is most critical to your organization. This will most likely result in a nice win when it comes to implementing and rolling out. This could be something like new investment account opening where the paper process is painstakingly slow and cumbersome which results in accounts taking days to open rather than minutes. The measurable gain could be the immediate funding and trading within this account. It is easily measurable and this is the kind of hard ROI data you will need to build a business case for a capture solution.

So here’s your homework – find an opportunity, assess the requirements, define what the future state will be, establish priorities, and go.

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