Advance Capture 101: What is True Automation?

Lots of applications claim to provide automation, but are they all the same?

Automation is a buzzword in the document management world, but what does true automation look like in the context of document capture software? Unfortunately for the average consumer shopping for a document capture solution, the word automation is used so frequently in this space that it’s hard to tell the difference between various forms of automation.

In reality, there is a stark difference between the level of automation a basic scanning and capture application can provide compared to the capabilities of an advanced document capture tool.

Here is a short and sweet rundown of what advanced document capture automation provides:

  • Automatic classification. If your scanning application requires that you manually sort documents before scan time, it’s not a truly automated advanced capture solution. Classification allows for different document types to be preconfigured so that there is no sorting required prior to scanning. The most advanced capture solutions will also include a learning engine (read about PSIGEN’s Accelerated Classification Engine here) to automatically classify documents without requiring the document types to be preconfigured. Ultimately, Classification should greatly reduce the time it takes to scan and capture documents, increasing your department’s productivity and helping reduce costs.
  • Automatic data extraction. Data extraction is a key element of document capture; without it, documents can’t be made searchable. Advanced document capture applications provide the ability to automate the extraction process so that workers don’t need to manually enter data. Many scanning applications claim to provide an automated workflow, but if that workflow doesn’t include the automation of data extraction, there will still be a significant amount of manual work necessary. Someone will need to access the document once it is captured to manually key in the data necessary—whether that’s an invoice number, name, telephone number or some other information. Automating this process saves a significant amount of time and cuts the labor costs associated with data entry.
  • Seamless migration to a third party system. While many capture products claim to provide routing to an ECM system, consumers should be wary about such claims, as some systems are far more limited than others. For instance, some applications provide direct routing to one specific ECM system. This is often the case in capture products created by ECM providers. They might work well for that specific integration, but they are not versatile enough for full-scale document automation. Other capture products claim to be compatible with several ECM systems, but in many cases “compatibility” doesn’t amount to a seamless transfer from the application to the repository. These types of integrations often require custom scripting in order to export documents to a repository, and in some cases, indexed data has to be reentered once the documents make it to the ECM. Migration from an advanced document capture software should include the automatic exportation of documents upon completion of the capture workflow, as well as the seamless transfer of indexed metadata to the ECM. With this type of application, there’s no need to waste time reentering data, and the product’s usefulness doesn’t diminish due to changes in your company’s IT infrastructure. Should you change your ECM or add a new system to the office, you won’t need to worry about purchasing new capture software—the product can be scaled and manipulated to suit the changing needs of your business. You also want your capture software to be able to publish metadata into line of business applications, such as ERP systems and accounting software programs. Migrating that information into an ECM is important, but if your business requires entering the data into an accounting program, you don’t want to be stuck manually typing in the data.

The ability to fully automate the document capture and data extraction process—not just some elements of it—is a major way advanced capture sets itself apart from basic scanning solution providers. This list just scratches the surface of the vast differences between advanced capture and basic scanning applications. Stay tuned for further blog posts on the topic, or contact a PSIGEN sales representative to get an in-depth explanation of advanced capture.