With document imaging technologies entering the mainstream, more businesses than ever are now realizing the basic benefits of digitizing their documents (e.g. reduced physical storage requirements, simultaneous access to documents). This is great for imaging rookies, but what about the veterans? How can companies that have been using document management technologies for years to archive, manage, and retrieve document images gain more efficiency out of their existing solutions? The answer is to move beyond just imaging and storing documents in isolated repositories and actually share those documents and the data they contain with other business applications.
The first step to breaking down document silos is to integrate your document management system with your primary line-of-business application. This may be your corporate ERP (enterprise resource planning) or CRM (customer relationship management) system, a student or patient management database, or an account management software package. For example, hot buttons can be created that allow your employees to access document images associated with specific records in these line-of-business systems without leaving the primary application. This eliminates the need for users to log in to a separate document management repository and conduct a query to search for a document in question, improving employee productivity and customer response times.
You can take this integration a step further by incorporating new data capture software into the solution. Traditionally, these technologies were limited to capturing data from structured form templates, where the location of the data to be extracted is clearly defined. However, advancements in data capture now allow businesses to locate and extract information from semistructured and unstructured documents, regardless of where the data resides on a page. These technologies can help you automate several manual business processes. For example, unstructured forms processing software can be used to automatically classify document types during the scanning phase, eliminating the need for employees to manually sort and separate documents prior to imaging. Furthermore, the information extracted from forms such as invoices, loan processing forms, or patient charts can be used to automatically populate data fields in your line-of-business application, reducing manual data entry requirements.