#1 Article on ECM Connections: “Getting Paper Into SharePoint: Five Key Things To Consider”

If there is one conversation that has caught like wild-fire in the past  18 months, it has to be capture for SharePoint. Case in point, an article recently authored by EMC and available on ECM Connections is the #1 downloaded article. You can check it out here – Getting Paper Into SharePoint: Five Key Things To Consider

ECM Connections Top 10 Articles

In many ways Microsoft SharePoint 2010 has brought ECM to the masses in a simple and easy-to-deploy way, but let’s not jump to conclusions and think SharePoint has everything you need.  SharePoint 2010 provides a foundation for ECM, but it is missing quite a few ECM puzzle pieces – archiving and library services, business process management, transactional content management, scanning and capture, and physical records management. Some or all these may be important to an organization looking to use SharePoint. One could also debate whether or not all the capabilities needed to support document management, records management, human centric workflow, and other key ECM functions are there. We can debate those other areas another time.

Without debating the feature/functions of SharePoint 2010 – what it can and can’t do – scanning and capture is something Microsoft does not provide today. That is why Microsoft looks to partners like EMC to fill that gap. Capture is important even today because it is needed any time you want to take paper, turn it into digital content, and store in SharePoint or really any repository. Which brings me back to my earlier point about capture for SharePoint being such a hot discussion topic these days both within the IT and business circles.

Not all capture products are created equal

Yes, there are lots of scanning and capture products available, and several of them do work with SharePoint. But depending on your requirements and needs, some will  not get you the return on investment that you should be looking to achieve.  Understanding what your key objectives are will dictate the type of solution you should be looking for. Are you simply trying to take a few hundred pages a day, scan and index them into SharePoint or is the use case more about processing large volumes of paper (several thousand pages per day) that are associated with critical line of business processes? In the cases where you are dealing with large volumes of paper, a lot of varying document types, and data that needs to extracted from paper, it is best to find a solution that can address your requirements in an automated fashion.

There is no point in going back to the early days of capture, where the only way to tackle the problem was simply relying on employees to sort documents before scanning, and manually keying all the data.  Granted there are use cases where not using automated document classification or data recognition makes sense. But in other cases applying that approach will prevent you from achieving the maximum ROI possible.

While the topic of capturing documents and storing them in SharePoint is a hot topic today, we should expect the conversation to continue on for several years. Why? The simple answer is because paper will almost certainly continue to pose a serious challenge for every organization. How I store, manage, process, and access paper needs to be addressed.  Plain and simple. Therefore, the business value of leveraging “intelligent” enterprise capture with SharePoint is certainly measurable, it’s just a matter of taking the next step.

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