Tips for Starting an Enterprise Document Capture Project

Posted by lgrayson

In today’s world, it is critical that businesses and government organizations are able to capture and fully utilize all of the information they have at their disposal, this includes information found on both paper and electronic documents. This is where intelligent document capture solutions can come into play. By integrating an Intelligent Document Capture solution with your existing document management system, you gain the ability to digitize paper documents and utilize them in electronic format within your existing workflows.

However, before an Intelligent Document Capture solution can be successfully implemented, a few steps have to be taken to ensure that the solution is implemented correctly according to each businesses specific requirements and current processes.

Tip #1 – Know Your Business 

In order to successfully implement an intelligent document capture solution into your company’s existing system, you need to have an understanding of how information and documents travel through various departments. In other words, before any document capture solution can be implemented, it is important to have workflow diagrams ready before hand. Consider these questions:

  • How well do you know the day-to-day activities happening in your company?
  • Do you have data flow diagrams for who does what and what goes where, or do you simply have an organization chart?
  • Do you understand all of your legal or contractual obligations?

Having a good map of what must take place to sell a product or service is essential to starting all projects, not just an enterprise document capture project.

For additional information about how to document specific business processes, view our Documenting Business Process Guidelines. While you are mapping these processes, pay close attention to arrows connecting the processes, and think about the information traveling along the arrows.  This is where your documents exist.

Tip #2 – Know Your Documents 

When I’m asked to get involved with a new project, particularly one involving document capture, I have asked what appeared to be two simple questions, “What are the document types you plan to capture?”, and, “How many pages per year are you planning to capture?”  Every time I have asked the questions, the response has boiled down to simply not knowing.

Sadly, I thought these questions were generic enough to simply start a discussion for the tasks at hand. I had not even begun to ask about business workflows and what decisions should be made in each given condition. Though this may be the planning phase of a project, there appears to be a disturbing lack of knowledge about what should be the day to day activities of a business.

Creating a profile of each Document you know about helps you keep the details you will need.  Below are just a few questions to consider when putting together a profile.  Be sure to cover the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and Hows for each document.

  1. What is the name of the Document?
  2. What is the document’s purpose?
  3. What is the estimated cost of losing the document, or not having it available?
  4. What does this document look like?
    1. Is this document structured or unstructured?
    2. Is the document a set form or free formed?
    3. How big is this document?
      1. Average number of pages?
      2. Maximum pages?
      3. Minimum pages?
  5. What does this document contain?
    1. Does this document contain handwriting?
    2. Does this document contain a signature?
    3. Does this document contain private information about a customer?
    4. Does this document contain company secrets?
    5. Does part of this document need to be redacted?
  6. Who uses this document?
    1. Who is responsible for this document?
    2. Who searches for this document?
    3. How many people need access to this document?
  7. Where is this document coming from?
    1. Is it coming from an external or internal source?
    2. Is it coming from a fax, email, letter, or a web site?
    3. How many times per day/week/month does this document come in?
    4. Should a response be sent back showing acquisition of the document?
  8. How should the document be stored?
    1. Where should the document be kept?
      1. Shared drive? Content Management System? Web Portal?
    2. How long should the document be kept?
      1. What compliance issues are involved in retention?
  9. What kind of security does the document require?
  10. What information on the document makes the document unique? What are the document’s attributes?
  11. What information is contained on the document? What data on the document can be used by your processes?

For each structured Document in your portfolio, make certain you have what is known as a golden template.  Basically this is a blank form.  It is helpful to have a golden template when working with software that automatically categorizes your document types for you.

Hopefully, you are getting the idea here about the level of details you need for each document type coming in, running through, and leaving your company.

Tip #3 – Control Your Expectations 

Once you have a map of your processes and a good knowledge of your document types, you should have a good idea of what you need in regards to acquiring a document capture system.  As you start looking at different document capture products, think about what scale and feature set would be the right fit for you. This is critical in ensuring that you get the end results you are expecting.

Tip #4 – Be Aware of the Yearly License/Service Fees

Each enterprise capture vendor has a different way of pricing their product licenses. Their service costs are just as unique. Knowing how many people will be involved with the capture process and how many pages you plan on capturing in a week/month/year is necessary in differentiating licenses costs.  Some vendors license costs are based on a page/per year counter, because they work on an old copy shop pricing model.  Other vendor licenses are based on a per workstation model.  Others still want to know how big your server will be and price according to the size of the server (# of CPUs).

More recently, the open source vendors have created a service agreement that is not license for the software, but a support cost. The support cost is based on the Service Level Agreement you require to have your capture software up and running.

 

These tips provide some of the basic steps that are needed in order to guarantee a successful start to an enterprise document capture project. By making sure that these preparation steps are taken, you are ensuring that the document capture system you choose to implement is one that best suits your organization, setting you up for increased ROI.

 

 

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