Document capture, and why do I need to understand it?

The term ‘document capture’ – often referred to as simply ‘capture’ – is defined by The Association for Image and Information Management (AIIM) as: ‘covering the combined processes of document scanning, image correction, recognition of text, barcodes, form fields and output to an appropriate format for subsequent processing or archive storage.’ It’s rather long-winded, but you get the idea!

Here we are going to explain why capture is an all-important application which every organization that wants to move forward should embrace. We are going to focus on capture in relation to Electronic Content Management (ECM), and how – in this instance – small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from capture in their day-to-day business operations.

In today’s modern commercial environment, probably every industrial, commercial, professional, governmental and non-governmental operation uses ECM in one form or another… whether they know it or not.

The more progressive organizations have probably invested in, or are investigating Microsoft Sharepoint or Office 365 to store the myriad of current electronic documents and images that have become an integral part of their world. But for many, there is a huge backlog of paper-based documents, and an ever-present on-going need to bring new, non-digitized, documents and images into their network of operations… to allow their personnel quick access to important, often critical, information.

Embracing a Sharepoint or Office 365 solution demonstrates an appreciation of the concept of ECM, and that these platforms offer powerful benefits and advantages. And this is where document capture comes in.

Just what is document capture?

One element of document capture is the process of scanning paper documents (invoices, PODs, correspondence, etc.), any hard copy documents (books, ID cards, driver licenses, etc.) together with existing electronic forms, documents and other unstructured content (emails, attachments, images, photos, videos, etc.) in such a way that the relevant data and content can be transformed into actionable information for the benefit of an organization’s workforce. When a paper document is captured, it becomes a digital image and any relevant/important information is extracted, indexed, classified and stored in a library or repository.

Another element of document capture is what is known as Application-Created Information ACI) which is a growing source of data and information. Document capture brings together the various pieces information, in the form of human-readable documents, that are either resident in, or created by, an ERP system or are from any of the many information-intensive applications available.

So document capture is not a complex or difficult concept to rationalize. It’s the gathering together of all manner of hard copy information (paper forms, electronic forms, rich media, office and paper documents, emails, texts, faxes, microfilm, etc.) and digital information that originates from applications (back-end systems such as ERPs, front-office applications, e-Forms and XML, etc.) in a form that allows people to find it, access it, and work with it.

Once captured and stored in a well-managed library or repository, the information can be accessed by authorized personnel, manipulated for specific purposes, and managed in countless ways – giving a whole new meaning to the concept of collaborative working and sharing information.

It’s not Scary Stuff!

There is reticence to integrate a capture application on the part of some organizations. But let’s make it clear… it’s a decision that is vital to progressive development.

In this digital age, every organization that uses an ECM system has a need – often urgent, always present – to capture paper-based documents. It’s never a ‘shall we’ consideration. It’s always a ‘we must’ decision. And those that don’t make the move are missing out on the enormous benefits offered. Some organizations do actually recognize the benefits, but are hesitant because they fear the industry is moving too rapidly, and that today’s decision will be obsolete tomorrow. This is not a valid reason because it can be applied to almost everything in life. The benefits gained today outweigh the potential disadvantages of progressive obsolescence – and anyway there is always an upgrade route. It’s also true that without the transformation from paper-based to digital-based, any operation will slowly but surely become totally bogged down and will go under. The advantages of document capture are clear and strong. Without digitization of old documents, full digital transformation is just not possible. Innovation will be stifled, information will be all but lost, and information sharing an impossibility. Equally important is the need of every organization for regulatory compliance, and a fully-integrated ECM, if managed correctly, delivers the certainty that compliance requires.

Fotopia Capture for your Enterprise.

There isn’t an organization – small, medium or large – that doesn’t have enormous opportunities to gain fast, tangible benefits and a positive return on investment from Fotopia Capture. Benefits will come to all touch-points… to the overall digital transformation, to more automated, streamlined business processes, and to improved customer service. This will happen because paper will become less and less a part of the landscape, workers will be able to share information more effectively and more quickly, and the frustration of not having information to hand when it’s needed will simply evaporate. And we don’t have to even mention the potential for cost savings – that’s a given.