How to intelligently manage your documents and data

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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 restricted, stagnation occurs. Time and money are wasted, and emerging opportunities are missed.

For too many businesses, critical data is locked on a printed page, stored in a box, or sitting on someone’s desk on the go. It’s hard to get that information flowing without dozens of people re-entering it into an electronic format so it can be more easily shared, analysed, processed, and acted upon.

These outdated practices are driving the adoption of intelligent document management.

Why Traditional Document Management Falls Short

Document management has been around for a while. It generally refers to scanning all the sheets of paper in an office to understand what a company has so they can decide what to keep and develop an indexing system that allows other employees to retrieve information.

Previously, companies manually indexed documents, which meant a human would look at a piece of paper, zero in on the provider’s name and account number, and enter it into a database. Advances then used optical character recognition (OCR) to aid in indexing. That’s when the software tries to figure out what each character is, for example a machine that reads six digits on a bill and gets the number 123456. The problem is that a “6” also looks like a “b”, so OCR doesn’t it is very precise.

Traditional document management falls short in one important respect: Information is only useful when inserted into workflows. This is where intelligent document management comes in, and it is critical to digital transformation.

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A shift to information management

Smart document management is more than just a better way to scan documents because it enables information management. Thanks to its “intelligence”, intelligent document management offers automated classification, routing, measurement, monitoring and multi-channel information management powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

Automatic classification means that scanners implement AI to make intelligent decisions about the content of a page (for example, recognizing a bill of lading versus an invoice) and categorize it.

It then, following the company’s internal workflows, routes the electronic version of the document to the correct person based on a combination of roles and rules (e.g. Mary, the Controller, must approve all invoices greater than $10,000, while invoices under $5,000 go to Fred). Approvals can occur simultaneously or follow a strict sequential order.

Follow-up is essential. What if Mary is on vacation for two weeks and that bill needs to be paid? A smart document management tool has timers, which recognize when a deadline is approaching and notify and route the document to a designated person for handling. He also oversees the overall process and reports it to management.

Finally, intelligent document management supports multichannel information, whether it’s a piece 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 workflows.

With intelligent document management, approximately 90% of document processing is handled by computer, reducing administrative time, eliminating human error and saving money.

Introduction to intelligent document management

We believe that the first step to intelligent document management is to fully document the current workflow by someone with information management experience, not just IT experience. This is called Business Process Analysis (BPA), and a solid understanding of how business is conducted is essential. Also, having experience implementing future enterprise content management (ECM) initiatives within a finance department, human resources department, etc., is crucial if you want the end result to be a sustainable solution that does what you need it to do. .

Then you need to decide what to digitize. Most organizations store more documents than they need. This scenario can lead to unnecessary risk, given new privacy laws and requirements that protect specific types of information.

A document audit is required even before digitization begins. For example, is a document, such as an employee contract, within retention requirements or do you no longer need to keep it? If it’s the latter, it’s probably best to destroy that document. Another consideration: every page scanned costs money, so an audit will boost profitability.

Next, you’ll need to develop a content roadmap for archiving documents so current and future employees can easily retrieve information. You have a photo 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 will work with you to ensure successful outcomes and eliminate the risk of making the wrong technology investments. Too often, companies underestimate the level of effort and complexity of a DIY approach.

Many capture systems offer similar capabilities, but your experience with them can be heavily influenced by vendor. Is the vendor willing to audit critical documents for you? Is the vendor willing to do the hard work of documenting their workflows so that the system lives up to its true potential? Does the provider offer service level agreements (SLAs), which allow you to hold the company accountable?

Getting the right solution at the right cost is key in any consideration. Intelligent document management providers charge money for an initial scan by highly trained, certified experts. This is followed by a monthly subscription fee to use the platform and a customization fee to implement your specific requirements. If you want to add more files to the system, there are fees to scan, extract, and index them.

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If the analysis is done correctly, you will know what it costs you now, where your bottlenecks are, where your risks and efficiencies are, and how much it will cost you to improve. The BPA provides a quantitative payback period that allows you to make an early, fact-based decision.

Converting to an intelligent document management system will generate immediate returns on investment and pay dividends in the future. However, mapping all incoming information to its unique workflows so that it can be processed with minimal manual intervention will do more than save you time and money. It will ensure your business has the agility it needs to thrive in a fast-paced economy.

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