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Data is the lifeblood of any organization. When it flows freely, businesses can grow, win new customers and prepare for the future. When it is limited, stagnation occurs. Time and money are wasted, and emerging opportunities are missed.
For too many companies, critical data is locked up on printed pages, stored in boxes, or sitting on someone’s desk outside the office. It is difficult to get this information flowing without a large number of people re-encrypting it into an electronic format for easier sharing, analysis, processing and action.
These outdated practices are driving the adoption of intelligent document management.
Why traditional document management is insufficient
Document management has been around for a while. It usually refers to scanning all the documents in an office to see what the company has so it can decide what to keep and develop an indexing system that enables other employees to retrieve the information.
Previously, companies manually indexed documents, which meant people would look at a piece of paper, poring over supplier names and account numbers, and then keying them into a database. Then, progress uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to help with indexing. That’s when software tries to figure out what each character is, for example, a machine reads six digits in an invoice and comes up with the number 123456. The problem is that “6” also looks like “b”, so OCR is not very accurate.
Traditional document management falls short in one important respect: Information is only useful when inserted into a workflow. This is where intelligent document management comes into play, which is critical to digital transformation.
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Shift to Information Management
Smart document management is not just a better way to scan documents, as it enables information management. With its “intelligence,” intelligent document management provides automated classification, routing, measurement, monitoring, and multi-channel information management powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Automatic classification means that the scanner deploys artificial intelligence to make intelligent decisions about what a page contains (for example, identify bills of lading vs. invoices) and classify them.
Next, following the company’s internal workflow, it sends an electronic version of the document to the correct person based on a combination of roles and rules (for example, Auditor General Mary must approve all invoices over $10,000, and less than $5,000 will go to Fred). Approvals can happen concurrently or follow a strict sequence.
Monitoring is essential. What if Mary takes two weeks off and has to pay an invoice? Smart document management tools feature timers that recognize when deadlines are approaching, and notify and resend documents to designated people for processing. It also monitors the entire process and reports it to management.
Finally, intelligent document management supports multi-channel information – whether it is a sheet of paper from a supplier or a bill of lading generated from an order management system. AI ensures that data is collected correctly and routed through the proper workflow.
With intelligent document management, approximately 90% of document processing is handled by computers—reducing administration time, eliminating human error, and saving money.
Get started with intelligent document management
We believe that the first step in intelligent document management is to fully document the current workflow by someone with the ability to: Information management Experience, not just IT experience. This is called business process analysis (BPA), and a solid grasp of how the business works is essential. Additionally, having experience rolling out future enterprise content management (ECM) initiatives in finance, human resources, etc. is critical if you want the end result to be a viable solution for your needs.
Then you need to decide what to digitize. Most organizations store more documents than they need. Given emerging privacy laws and requirements to protect certain types of information, this situation may lead to unnecessary risks.
A document review is required before digitization begins. For example, are documents such as employee contracts covered by their retention requirements, or are you no longer required to retain them? If the latter, it is best to destroy the file. Another consideration: Every page scanned costs money, so auditing will be more cost-effective.
Next, you need to develop a content roadmap for the archive so that current and future employees can easily retrieve the information. You have a picture of the Statue of Liberty. How should it be classified as a statue, a national icon, a New York City tourist attraction, or a gift from France?
You want to choose a vendor that you work with to guarantee successful results and eliminate your risk of making the wrong technology investment. Too often, companies underestimate the effort and complexity of the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach.
Many capture systems offer similar functionality, but your experience with them can be highly vendor-influenced. Is the supplier willing to conduct critical document audits for you? Are vendors willing to do the hard work documenting your workflow so the system can reach its true potential? Does the vendor offer a service level agreement (SLA) that enables you to hold the company accountable?
Getting the right solution at the right cost is key to any consideration. Intelligent document management providers charge for up-front analysis performed by trained, certified experts. Use the platform’s monthly subscription and customization fees to achieve your specific requirements. If you want to add more files to the system, these files will need to be scanned, extracted and indexed.
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If the analysis is performed properly, you will know the current cost, where the bottlenecks are, where the risks and efficiencies are, and the cost of improvement. BPA provides a quantified payback period, allowing you to make pre-determined decisions based on facts.
Switching to an intelligent document management system will bring an immediate return on investment and pay dividends for a long time to come. However, mapping all incoming information to your unique workflow so that it can be processed with minimal human intervention not only saves you time and money. It will ensure your company has the agility it needs to thrive in a fast-paced economy.