What problem are you trying to solve?
Although all businesses are unique, all suffer from the same challenges in order to stay competitive and profitable. The application of technology can proliferate a number of business benefits and solve many of the challenges. Do some of these sound familiar ?
- I have lots of paper taking up much needed floor space
- I would like to use this technology but don’t have the IT department or hardware required to support and run it
- I would like to enable my staff to carry out their day jobs without spending lots of time on data entry
- I currently have a data capture and/or document management system but suspect it is not operating as efficiently as it could
- We are currently spending too much time entering data from invoices and other documents into our business systems
- We have many staff in the field who could use mobile technology, but we are not sure what can be done and how we can implement something.
- I’m worried that my current system leaves me open to compliance and regulatory issues.
If they sound familiar to you, these issues are collectively grouped as document and data capture issues, apto have many years of experience in solving these issues.
I have lots of paper taking up much needed floor space
The answer to this problem could be a document management system. A document management application will let you convert all of your paper documents into electronic files that can be stored in a database. These files are then available to search on using words or phrases that appear either within the document itself or within index fields that can be attached to the document during the paper to electronic conversion process.
What this means is that there are no longer any requirements for filing cabinets or shelving/racking to be in and around the workplace. Documents from within the management system can be easily attached to emails (this is done via a link rather than attaching the actual files to the email so that mailbox space is kept to an absolute minimum and to ensure that are not multiple copies of the same document appearing within line of business systems or left on hard disks) or made available for colleagues to view.
Many businesses have the capability to store documents electronically, but don’t have the correct processes in place to ensure data gets into the systems effectively. Apto have helped a number of organisations streamline their capture processes and develop a capture strategy for the entire enterprise. Do any of these sound familiar?
- We have a document management system but it’s only used by some departments.
- Users don’t like putting documents into the document management system as it is time consuming and difficult.
- Although the document management system is used by everyone, lots of files are still saved into shared folders.
- All of our documents are in our repository, but they can also be found in email inboxes, shared drives and other locations.
- We have strict rules governing the naming convention of files and folders within our document management system, but sometimes they are ignored.
- Although we have a document management application, it still takes me a lot of time to find the correct document
.... don’t have the IT department or hardware required to support and run it
Software as a Service or SaaS has been around for quite some time, however it is only now that the data centre infrastructure and bandwidth have truly been able to support large applications sitting off site. A SaaS solution offers two immediate huge benefits, a very low capital expenditure and the opportunity to have the latest technology without the IT staff resource and hardware equipment required to support it.
There is however a drawback, and that drawback is simply the fact that all of your stored data is off site. For some companies this is difficult change to adopt and prevents them from moving forwards with this type of infrastructure. Even though most, if not all of a companies financial transactions are carried out in the same cloud as they would be storing their documents, for some reason the thought of document storage in the cloud is a far greater concern than that of financial transactions.
Apto can provide a data capture strategy for you that will not only allow your users to concentrate on their daily work tasks but also free the IT department from the periodic updates and configuration changes that are so hard to implement due to staff turnover and skills erosion due to long periods of time when they software hasn’t been touched. A SaaS deployment can offer the following features:
- Automated backups
- Configuration management
- Security management
- Architecutral scalability
- Server platform and thin client footprints
- Efficiency and accuracy monitoring
- Low Cap Ex requirement
- Virtually no drain on IT to maintain the solution
- High availability, disaster recovery and automatic backups
- Reassurance that the solution will work independently of any IT strategy
- A system that has maximum accuracy and efficiency due to monitoring of data extraction and classification.
- Minimal training requirements
All businesses require some element of data capture to be carried out by staff. This might be in the form of entering expenses or invoice data into a financial application, capturing information for a line of business database or simply updating line of business systems with index information from paper documents that will be filed.
All of these activities whilst necessary are often performed by staff who are in the relevant department as part of their day time routine, however don’t form part of their work remit and thus detract these staff from the work they should be doing.
Deploying a data capture system can take care of much of the mundane capture effort and free staff up to perform the activities their role demands and focus their time on what they should be carrying out.
If you think that a data capture system might help with your current workload on improve a departments efficiency then please contact us to discuss what your options are and investigate how this technology will work for you.
How can you ensure that your data capture / document management system is living up to the hype or performing as efficiently as it should?
If you currently have a data capture or document management system then great! You should be reaping the benefit of using this great technology within your organisation. It is a common fact however that there are many systems which have been implemented and once they have gone live have been left alone, sometimes when they have never actually lived up to the promises the technology was employed to fulfil.
We have helped on many occasions turn these systems around by drawing on our vast expertise in a huge range of deployment scenarios. We can first determine what the system is currently providing for you, of course you will know what the business case was for implementing the system in the first case so we can then decide mutually where the gaps are and how we can transform the current system to deliver the benefits you originally wanted.
It is very easy for users of the system to lose faith and confidence in the technology if it has been implemented poorly or improperly, therefore we believe it is not just a case of setting some parameters or writing some script within the application itself, therefore the end solution has to involve the users to prove to them that the issues have not only been fixed, but their experience with the technology will improve dramatically.
Data capture can dramatically improve the accuracy and reduce the time of data entry
If you are manually entering data into a line of business system then data capture can help. It can help in a number of ways but the two main benefits are simple—speed and accuracy.
No capture technology is 100% accurate, but it can be as you look closer at the data you are capturing. An example might be that you are capture a machine printed customer reference from correspondence that is sent to your mail room by your customers. It may be true that some of the mail does not even have a reference on the document, in which case you are no worse off with a data capture system than you are with a manual system, apart from the fact you have had to pay for the data capture system!
However if the correspondence does contain a reference, then the data capture system is sure to recognise some the characters from the reference. If it recognises them all then perhaps a lookup can be made to a customer database to ensure that the reference exists (thus validating the captured data) and at which time other fields can be returned to not only help ensure the reference is correct, but to add further data to the document that may not actually be on the document.
If even some of the data from the reference may be recognised then this may be enough match the document to the customer by using other data capture from the document—maybe the post code or other elements of the address, maybe a surname etc… This can all help turn a field which has a read result of 80% accuracy into a field which is 100% accurate.
If none of the above is true then chances are that the data extraction process has only been able to capture some of the reference number and not all of it, in which case the remaining percentage of data would have to be keyed, still offering a valuable time saving as maybe a 15 character manual data entry process has now been reduced to a 5 character key from image process.
This is just one example of one field on one document type where data capture can help, roll this out to all fields on all document types then across an organisation huge savings and efficiency gains can be made. Apto are at the forefront in implementing this type of technology working with such partners as Ephesoft, Lexmark Enterprise Software (formerly Kofax and Readsoft, Kodak and Top Image Systems (TIS) .
Not only can we make the application deliver the benefits you need, but we can help fit the right application to your requirements in order to ensure you hit all of your targets. Contact us to discuss what your capture needs are in order to see if we can help your business benefit from this technology.
Hopefully we've highlighted some familiar issues? Why not call or contact us for an initial conversation to see if we can help?