As the years roll on, one cannot help but notice how much technology has integrated into our daily lives. Today we talk about online streaming, view the news on our tablets, have smartphones and smart TVs, and we have also started to talk about having a hybrid or electric car.
Buildings and offices have PV panels, various wireless systems, and intelligent climate control air conditioning. We also have sophisticated apps to tell us how many steps we made during the day, the amount of calories in our lunch, and if we forget our friends’ birthdays, well, there’s an app for that.
Yet passing by an office or commercial outlet such as a tour agency, insurance broker, even at the bank, I always wonder if time stood still when I notice the piles of papers stacked up on desks, cabinets, sometimes even in folders lying on the floor. I often ask myself if the information which is stored in these documents is truly needed, or even worse, is actually found when required. Who knows what sensitive information lies buried there in oblivion.
Is it possible that with all the technological developments, there is no simple way of managing these documents? If only you could press a button and have all the documents sorted, all important information extracted and updated into your computer system, and have the actual document filed neatly and ready for when you need it.
Well, the answer is simple: document management.
Document management solutions (DMS) do exactly what they say on the label: they manage documents. But like everything else, the solution you choose will determine the level of automation you get when you press the button.
In reality there is no single solution that will handle all processes that exist when it comes to manage documents. Your business might require a type of DMS while another business would require the combination of two or more systems. The key is to understand what technology exists on the market and then be able to choose what will give you the best results for your business.
An ideal solution would be able to process all documents intelligently. You just feed the document via a scanner or an e-mail to the system, which would in turn understand what document it has received, and consequently perform a particular set of actions for that specific document, before filing it in a repository for future use.
An insurance broker would scan a policy provided by a principle, and the system would read and store the policy details into a backend database automatically, before storing a copy of this scan perhaps in pdf format into a particular file structure or even some other repository. All the user has to do is press the scan button.
At the bank, the cheques being deposited would be processed by simply placing all the cheques in a scanner, where the system would read the bank name, date, amount, and account number and send them to the backend for processing. A tour agent would place all documents received via e-mail into a predefined system folder, and the system would pick up all correspondence, passport photocopies, deposit information and store everything for that particular client, perhaps even raising an alert if there are some required documents missing or expired.
One of the products available on the market which is capable of achieving such level of intelligent automation is ABBYY FlexiCapture.
This product uses OCR technology to identify the documents being processed – however, it does’nt rely on fixed templates to match a given document. For example if you wish to identify an invoice from a policy, FlexiCapture will look for key words, wherever they are on the document. So if it finds the key word ‘invoice’, it will know that the document is an invoice. If it matches the word ‘policy’, then it will note this is an insurance form.
ABBYY FlexiCapture is an accurate, scalable data processing and document capture solution that intelligently extracts, classifies and serves critical data from incoming image, e-mail and document streams to decision makers – for better performance, document workflow transparency and workload predictability.
Article published on The Sunday Times of Malta on the 23 July 2017