Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mobile Capture? Really?

The Document Management industry is all about mobile capture right now. Really? Taking pictures of documents, page by page, with a tablet/smart phone camera. Some of the biggies in the industry are spending huge amounts of money promoting the cause, and building complex infrastructures and image processing to handle these types of images. There are a number of new startups, like StratusFlow, that are focusing on solving the key problem through the cloud.  Want to see a simple solution? Video below uses Microsoft SkyDrive, an iPad and PSI:Capture on the backend to read barcode photos and process the data.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

How do you want to find your documents?

Document Capture Drives Search
One of the first stages in planning for any scanned image repository is to ask the question: How do you want to find your documents?  Theories vary on best practices, but here are a few tips when designing a document capture implementation for any ECM system:
  1. Limit your number of fields to 5 or less. So many times i see document scanning customers use way to many fields during capture.  The more fields you have, the more time for end users to index their documents, and the more chances fields will get skipped.  Take the time to interview the end users and truly find how they need to search for their documents.
  2. Always use a date.  Dates are the ultimate filter that can be a life saver when searching for that needle in a haystack in a scanned document repository.  Invoice date, purchase order date, contract date, etc. give you the power to narrow down your search results to a specified period and can be a huge help in audit based searches or searches for legal support.
  3. Use automation to reduce indexing time.  Document capture applications provide automation and efficiency, and can reduce end user keying requirements on documents.  Strong, accurate OCR technology, and Advanced Data Extraction (ADE) are absolutely required.
  4. Ensure your technology has a QA step.  If you are going to go to all the trouble of scanning, capturing and migrating documents to a repository, make sure you can check your work.  Misfiling a document can a painful experience.
  5. Full text search is the insurance policy.  Always, I repeat always, convert your scanned documents to a searchable format, PDF Image with Hidden text.  This will allow for granular searches beyond your index fields/columns, and can help you in the "find a needle in the haystack" tasks.  But do not, I say, do NOT rely on full text search as your primary search method.  Full text does not let you sort by specific document focused dates, cannot let you do range based searches on specific criteria, and restricts sorting and viewing in most repositories.
Just a few tips when designing your document scanning index fields.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Oooops. Did someone backup the paper?

If you  look at the headlines over the past few years, you cannot help but notice the number of natural disasters that have occurred.  In my conferences with IT and Departmental Management, I always pose the question when discussing business continuity or disaster planning: Do you have a plan for your paper?   Just about every company has implemented some type of plan for backing up their important digital files.  Some go to the extreme with data snapshots that can be recovered from multiple locations.  But companies typically don't take the same strategy with their paper assets.  The good ole file cabinet, the protector of all things paper will provide protection, right? Companies need to take a good hard look at their paper, and assess the business impact should disaster destroy their file room.  Backing up your paper nowadays is not hard, nor expensive when compared to the legal implications and time it would take to reproduce (if possible) contracts, customer files, sales records and the like. Any paper backup plan involves a concept i call Bridging the Gap (BTG).  BTG involve hardware and capture software to digitize and build the bridge to the digital world, and then a repository on the "other side" to house the records and make search and retrieval simple.  The repository can be as simple as a set of named network folders, or as complex as a true ECM system like MS SharePoint.  Take the initiative and backup your paper today.