Most enterprises today aspire to transform into efficient, digital organisations and, yet, many business processes continue to depend heavily on manual, paper-driven processes.

By Kevin Reaper, scanning and document management solutions business unit manager at Tarsus Distribution

But the possibilities of using today’s powerful scanners and flexible document management software to digitise processes is often overlooked as companies embark on their digital transformation programmes.

As such, there is an opportunity for organisations to put scanners and document management software in place in order to automate and streamline paper-intensive processes such as customer onboarding, forms processing, records management and accounts payable.

Getting these back-office processes right will not only deliver rapid return on investment in terms of higher productivity, lower paper management costs and enhanced process and data accuracy – it can also help an organisation enhance its customer experience at the front-end. Here are some signs that an enterprise may benefit from a scanning and document management solution:

Paper storage costs and clutter are spiralling out of control

Every document that flows into a business will need to be stored for a while, with the length it must be retained determined by a range of regulatory imperatives and business parameters. The result is that many companies need to make place for rows and rows of filing cabinets stacked with documents, or use an expensive offsite storage facility to archive their records.

Yet it’s not necessary to keep the original of each document – an electronic copy will often be sufficient. Even when the paper version needs to be kept, it doesn’t need to be kept on site. A robust document capture solution can allow your client to digitise each document as it comes into the business, saving valuable office space for other purposes.

Plus, digitising documents and storing them in the cloud is the best and only way to prevent data loss in the event of natural disasters, human error, and deteriorating document quality causing loss of records. Many solutions even allow companies to set specific restrictions, so that only authorised staff can access or update sensitive documents.

Employees are spending a disproportionate amount of time processing and managing paper

Each piece of paper that flows into a business creates work for someone to do – from capturing the data from a form or invoice and filing the document to locating the piece of paper again when someone needs it and sharing it with the customer or colleague who requested it. For a business like a medical or legal practice, the costs of handling this paper can be significant.

If a team is spending a lot of time shuffling paper or needs to hire more people to manage paper records, they may be ready for a proper scanning and document capture solution. A good platform enables a company to scan its documents and store them in an electronic repository for simple collaboration and digital sharing.

Employees can rapidly find and retrieve any electronic document through a simple search process, and share or update it with a few clicks. To take automation to an even higher level, organisations can send smarter information in multiple file types to enterprise content management (ECM) systems, Microsoft SharePoint, and Secure FTP to simplify workflow and processes.

High level of data capture error

Many organisations still have their employees capture information manually into their business systems after a customer, supplier or business partner has submitted a paper form or a scanned document. Human error is bound to occur as employees try to get through large stacks of documents as quickly as possible.

This can lead to high levels of inaccurate data in the company’s systems – from incorrect phone numbers to misspelt addresses and names to imprecise financial information. Finding and fixing these mistakes can be expensive and time-consuming. These organisations could benefit from a document management solution.

A good document capture system will be able automate the process of scanning documents, then extracting and indexing data – while improving the quality of the captured information.

Today’s high-end scanning software easily handles complex scanning, data extraction and indexing with highly accurate optical character recognition (OCR). Processing features let the client immediately identify missing information on a document, like a signature. Intelligent quality control automatically flags questionable information for review.

There is a need to tighten compliance with data privacy and retention regulations

One of the biggest challenges of the paper chase lies in legal and regulatory compliance. Organisations need to protect sensitive data – such as medical information, financial information and personal identifiable data – to comply with privacy regulations. Companies in certain industries must also maintain certain types of records for a specific amount of time.

Document management solutions enable organisations to more easily handle sensitive documents like receipts, invoices and medical records in compliance with privacy and data retention laws and regulations.