When Basic Capture is all You Need: Document Capture
As consumers, we live in a world with what appears to have unlimited purchasing options, and document management is no different. It seems that there are more capture software packages available these days than ever before. The advanced capabilities of some capture software packages can make indexing and storing documents amazingly quick and efficient. However, those advanced features come with an added cost of software, maintenance and professional services to install and configure the software. While all of those advanced capabilities sound great, you may find yourself wondering if you can get by with a lower price tag and stick with a more basic system. So how do you know when basic capture is all that you need?
Let’s begin by taking a look at your overall needs. First of all, what do you need to scan? If you have ad-hoc scanning requirements, let’s say less than 50 pages per day and you will be scanning into multiple applications you most likely only need basic scanning software. Most document management solutions include a very basic scanning interface that allows you to add documents on the fly. If this is not an option, check to see if your scanner came with capture software. Again, if this is not an option, or the software does not have the capabilities you need, there are many software options for under $1,000. These “free” or inexpensive capture software options are popular in both small offices and large corporate departments with powerful workflow engines.
Basic Capture for Small Businesses
First we’ll look at the small office. They may need to do nothing more that scan their paper onto a shared drive on the network, or maybe a shared cloud service such as Google Drive. The process is simple: scan, index and save the image. The results of doing this efficiently and accurately can be devastating if you are not using even basic capture software.
Here are a couple of the potential problems. Let’s say you decided to create a folder structure hierarchy within your storage area to store the images. For the sake of this discussion let’s say you are a financial planner and are saving client files. Your hierarchy may be Client Name (Last/First) > Year (2016) > Document Type (Correspondence, Legal Docs, Tax Returns, Investments, Insurance, etc.) You next scan the paper in your MFP (Multi-Function Printer) and save it to your desktop. You go back to your desk, pull up the image and inspect it for quality. If it needs to be rescanned because of poor quality, or missing pages, you go back to the MFP, make the necessary adjustments and scan the paper again. Once you are satisfied with your scan you need to rename the document. This is typically done by using a standard naming convention, one that everyone in the office is instructed to follow and thus understand. You close the document and right mouse click on the file name, changing it to something more definable for the image. Finally, you move the file to the client folder and under the proper year and subfolder and save the file. If you did everything correctly, others should be able to find the document and use it.
So everything above seems plausible, and even doable. But let’s say that you are not the only one in the office who is scanning and saving documents. What if your colleagues are not as conscientious as you are in naming the file properly and saving it to the proper director? If that is the case, it becomes very difficult or sometimes impossible to find the image.
Consider a desktop scanner with a basic capture software. The entire package can cost less than $2,000. Having the scanner on your desk eliminates the need to get up and use the office MFP. Typically, the image quality will be better and in case you need to rescan an image you know immediately. The capture software contains an application created specifically for your needs. It requires that you enter specific index information that insures that indexing is done consistently. When you complete your indexing of the images(s) and index information it is released from the software. The “release script” knows from your index values how to name the file and where it should be placed. Removing and potential human error associated with the manual process. Ultimately the software forces a degree of compliance and consistency.
Basic Capture for Large Companies
What about a larger company that has invested in an AP workflow solution? Let’s say you are a department manager that is responsible for approving invoices associated with your department. Invoices, copies of P.O.s and receivers are processed into your system by the AP clerk. Occasionally, however, you need to add additional supporting documents. Your time is too valuable to walk over to an MFP, potentially wait in line to use it and then return to your desk to find the scanned image and save it to the workflow. A better solution is to have a desktop scanner on your desk with some basic capture software, where you simply scan the image, index it with the software and save it to the system. In less than a minute you are moving onto the invoice to approve or other important items.
Both examples describe a relatively simple process that can be done quickly and efficiently with the proper tools. A small investment can save many man hours down the road and create better overall results.
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