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What is Document Capture: Types, Process and Benefits

If your back-office staff wastes lots of time manually processing documents, you are not alone.

The ever-increasing volume of documents coming into organizations, combined with unrelenting pressure to capture more information and deliver it downstream faster, is taxing organizations.

Back-office staff spends a lot of their workday on manual, repetitive document processing tasks, leaving little time for higher-value activities such as analyzing data and building client relationships.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Document capture solutions automate the receipt, processing, export, storage, and retrieval of mission-critical information for finance and other business applications.  The result is faster, more efficient, and more effective business processes, better decision-making, and less risk of compliance issues.

This article will show you how your organization can benefit from automated document capture.

What is Document Capture?

Document capture converts paper and unstructured electronic forms into actionable information.

Paper documents are digitized using a document scanning solution.  Some organizations leverage a shared services center or service bureau to digitize paper documents.  Digital documents submitted via email, mobile, fax, FTP upload, portal, or other means are imported into the solution.  These solutions can process digital documents in any format, including PDF, TIFF, and JPEG.

Once documents are aggregated, they are cleaned up, converted into a uniform format that makes them easy to read, edit, archive, and search, and exported to downstream systems and processes.

Document Capture Versus Document Scanning

Document capture is not the same as document scanning.

Document scanning is the conversion of paper documents to a digital non-editable format.

Document capture takes things to the next level by importing images and electronically submitted documents, converting the data on documents into a standardized, editable format, extracting and classifying the data on documents, indexing documents, and exporting documents downstream.

Compared to document scanning, document capture solutions make information more useful.

Types of Document Capture   

There are several types of software that improve the information management process:

  • Optical character recognition (OCR), which converts machine-printed text into a format that can be read by computer software.
  • Intelligent character recognition (ICR), which converts handwritten text into a format that can be read by computer software.
  • Barcode recognition, which reads the information embedded in barcodes on a document.
  • Free-form text recognition, which extracts all the information from invoices and other forms.
  • Mark sense recognition, which converts checkmarks and other markings made by individuals into data.

Together, these technologies help digitize and simplify the process.

What is the Document Capture Process?

There are several steps involved in automating document capture:

  1. Import. Documents are electronically imported into the solution.
  2. Processing. The solution converts the text on documents into a machine-readable format.
  3. Cleanup. Images are automatically cleaned up and improved to help ensure optimal data extraction performance.  Some solutions eliminate border artifacts, correct the skew that may have occurred during scanning, eliminate noise, and de-speckle images.
  4. Validation. Document quality compared to pre-defined standards.  Poor-quality documents, such as those with missing fields or blurry characters, are manually verified and corrected.
  5. Classification. The solution uses full-text optical character recognition (OCR), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other technologies to automatically identify and digitally sort different types of documents (e.g., invoices, orders, receipts, etc.).
  6. Data extraction. Metadata within the document is identified and extracted automatically.
  7. Indexing. Documents are automatically indexed so they can be easily searched and retrieved later.  Documents are indexed based on characteristics such as client name or client number.
  8. Export. Information is delivered to an enterprise content management (ECM) system, document management solution, digital repository, or other downstream system or process.  Some solutions use robotic process automation (RPA) to seamlessly connect systems.

These steps help ensure that documents are captured efficiently and effectively.

Industry Verticals & Uses

Any business application can benefit from automated document capture.

But some of the most common uses include:

  • Medical. Digitize and securely store patient information, physician notes, prescriptions, X-rays, and other medical records in a centralized location.
  • Human resources. Aggregate and store resumes, IDs, and all the other information necessary to screen a job applicant or onboard a new employee.
  • Finance. Finance departments depend on ready access to information.  Document capture solutions help put smart insights at the fingertips of the finance decision-makers who need them.  Purchase orders can be classified based on the requested items and other criteria.  The header and line-item details from invoices can be automatically extracted.  And archived sales orders can be quickly searched to identify trends and cross-selling opportunities.
  • Accounting. Document capture solutions make it easy to digitally collect and store receipts for travel expenses to validate they comply with travel policies and government regulations.
  • Loan application processing. Digitize and examine pay slips, bank statements, and other documents to accelerate the loan approval process.
  • Claims processing. Automating the capture and validation of claim submission forms, medical records, invoices, and receipts helps insurers accelerate the claims approval process.
  • Legal. Easily to collect insurance claims, medical records, physician reports, receipts, and other documents required for a legal proceeding.

Regardless of the use, these solutions improve information management.

How Your Organization Can Benefit

Wondering if it’s is right for your organization?

Automating document capture provides tremendous benefits to organizations of all sizes.

  • Lower overhead. Reduce the manual keying, paper shuffling, and filing and retrieval of documents that drive up labor costs and other overhead.
  • Reduced storage space. Eliminate the need to physically store documents in file cabinets, cardboard boxes, or off-site with a third-party service provider.
  • Increased staff productivity. In an automated environment, staff spends less time keying data, fixing errors and mistakes, and hunting for misfiled documents.
  • Fewer errors. A single typo can create big downstream errors.  Automatically extract the data from documents with a high degree of accuracy.  Any documents with missing data or other issues are automatically routed for verification.
  • Faster cycle times. In an automated environment, documents flow downstream faster, and information is instantly available at the fingertips of decision-makers.
  • Improved collaboration. Document capture makes it easier for staff to collaborate on documents.  Digitized documents can be edited, annotated, and approved by authorized users.
  • Streamlined compliance. Safeguard sensitive information through user permissions, automated separation of duties, chain of custody assurance, and audit logging.  With an automated system, there also is no chance that documents will be lost or destroyed ahead of an organization’s document retention schedule.

Why Automate?

Soaring document volumes and ever-increasing data capture requirements are a burden on many organizations.  By automating the receipt, processing, storage, and export of documents, it delivers tremendous operational and strategic benefits to organizations of all sizes.

Contact us to learn more.

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