Tuesday, November 29, 2011

6 Steps to make your company a paper-free business

You will find below a guide with the essential steps to implement a successful digitization process which really allows your company to get rid of paper”

  1. UNDERSTANDING AND SHARING ITS TRUE PROFITS
Find the project justification because if you are going to invest money, you have to prove that it's an “investment”, not a “cost”. Turn in numbers that lack of efficiency you guess when you see your employers are lost in piles of papers.



Step 1:
Consider current costs working with paper and think about how digitizing the company's documentation will reduced them.


2 PERSUADING ALL TO FIGHT AGAINST THEIR FEARS
You will find a lot of steps trying to convince your board about the need to adopt a digitization system. What difficult stepts will I find? Above all, things like: “a digital document is not as valid as a paper-based one”, “despite digitizing a document we cannot destroy the original in a large number of years”. You will have to prove with data and laws that these fears are unfounded .


Step 2:
Dispel fears of the board of directors. Use data and laws as your tools.

3. DEFINING CLEAR 'GAME RULES'

It is mandatory to define a knowledge or an informational base over which the system will work. You must define concepts like: volumes of documentation, speed of the system (workflows?), what to do with those documents when they are digitized, who is going to scan the documents and where, configuration and number of scanners, what information you want to extract of the documents, in what format the information will be saved, what types of documents the system will accepte and how those documents are, etc.

Step 3:
Define the project scope and its attributes.


4. STUDYING YOUR SYSTEM AS A WHOLE: DIGITIZING IS NOT ONLY USING A SCANNER

If you have a Records Management software, make sure the system is able to store the amount of documents you want to digitize and does it in a proper speed.
Try to ensure that the original documents have a minimum quality, that can avoid you lots of problems if you decide to use a character recognition software (OCR).
Distributed or centralized capture? With a centralized capture system we have to move the documents from all the branches of the company to the place where the capture will be done. A distributed digitizing, or distributed capture is by far the best option, each branch scan its own material but in the end the documentation goes to a unique repository (or shared repositories)


Step 4:
Take into account the next key steps before making a decision about acquiring hardware or software:
  • Scanner's speed
  • Storage system available
  • Quality of original documents
  • Distributed capture vs centralized capture


5. FINDING A RIGHT CAPTURE SOLUTION
Capture software is what really makes the difference between inaccessible information on paper and the information included in documents that is completely accessible to be used; because it allows extracting information of scanned documents (usually images)

We must think about the type of documents we are using (manuscripts, printed by computers, markup text documents), to determine what software technical features allow us to extract the information (OCR, ICR or OMR)

As far as OCR, we must consider not only they are offering us an OCR engine with a high precision rate but at the same time we must know what type of OCR we need and it depends again on the characteristics of the documents we are working with. If we usually work with well organized and structured documents a zonal OCR is the best choice. Bad news is that our documentation will not always be well organized and we are going to look for documents in which we won't know how to find what we need. That kind of documents use demand applying OCR to the entire document.

Finally, it's important to think about a software which offers document recognition and classification, since it is going to save lot of costs to your company. In this case you must take into account how precise is the tool in the auto-classification process.

Just one more thing, if you are going to work with massive volume of documents, you will need the tools receiving batches of scanned documents and it can divide them into individual documents.
For more information about capture tools, see the “Comparison of Capture Solutions”


Step 5:
Analyze carefully the following aspects before choosing a Capture solution:
  • Documents to digitize, are they well organized or not
  • What possible objects you'll find in your documents (manuscript words, check boxes, etc)
  • Are you going to scan individual documents or batch of documents?
  • What parts of the process can you automate?




6. INVOLVING YOUR STAFF IN THE PROCESS

The number of people involved directly will depend on the game rules defined and the power of the capture software (the more powerful the tool is the less human work is required). Whatever the number of people involved it is important to look after the ease of use of all the system tools and teaching them how all work, at the same time you must persuade them about their benefits. But on the other hand, it's better that several people scan than only one, because it's a very boring task,



Step 6:
Try to involve your staff in the new project and distribute the load of the tedious tasks related with the digitizing process.


We hope we are being helpful along these lines, remember we are pleased to help you personally.



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