If your company is still trying to find a balance between digital and paper document management, you can be sure your team is wasting time on manual tasks. Although you’re not the only organization finding themselves in this situation, most companies have faced their time of reckoning and are at some stage in their transition to digital document management. If the idea seems overwhelming, there are four common digitization solutions to make life easier:
- Scan to zero: Scan every paper document in your office, but gradually.
- Bulk document scanning: Get it out of the way in one fell swoop with one bulk scanning project.
- Buy a scanner: Invest in scanning hardware to do your own document scanning.
- Optical character recognition (OCR): Embrace the power of OCR, a technology that allows you to extract text from images/scanned documents.
Although we’ve done it all, we often find companies that tend to teeter on the edge of paper and digital documents benefit the most from an OCR/scanning technology hybrid of sorts. OCR is one of those revolutionary techs that offer surprising benefits allowing you to see significant improvements in your efficiency and productivity. It also minimizes disruption to your operations. Here we explore the importance of this tool and how you can unlock its potential to boost productivity.
What Exactly is OCR Software Technology?
OCR, or optical character recognition, is one of those mind-blowing technologies that have capabilities that boggle the mind. OCR scanning technology allows you to extract text from images, including scanned documents. The technology actually recognizes “unstructured” characters and converts what it sees into “structured” data in the form of text. As a result, documents like PDFs become editable, allowing you to incorporate scanned documents into your processes with ease.
Why is OCR Software and Technology so Important to Digitization?
In document management, we have structured data which is editable text, and unstructured data, which is various types of images. Because scanned documents become images, it can pose a challenge that leaves your team at a disadvantage if they have digitized scans that they need to edit and search. So, by using OCR software, you can extract that text and convert it into a working document allowing your team to deal with it like your basic Word document. As a result, when you take that step into digitization, by including OCR scanning technology in the process, you can scan and convert those new scans into a workable, live format. It’s a match made in digital heaven.
How Does OCR Software Boost Productivity?
While you’re probably starting to get an idea of why OCR improves productivity, it helps to see examples of it working in action:
Accounts Payable & Finance
Your accounts payable team instantly sees the benefits of OCR technology, including:
- Improved auditing with text-specific search capabilities
- Reduced fraudulent expense reporting by introducing a mobile scanner to capture receipts at the time the expense is incurred
- Faster processing with reduced manual data entry of incoming invoices
- Streamlined invoice approvals using automated classifications, transforming PDF invoices into searchable text documents so you can search by date, supplier, items ordered, delivery date, etc.
- Faster payment to improve credit availability and leverage early payment discounts
You also gain more control over accounts receivable with document management and OCR that introduces efficient auto-matching, electronic invoicing, and exceptions routing. As a result, your financial team can:
- Improve cash flow
- Reduce payment cycle time
- Free up space needed for paper-based systems
- Reduce accounting resources needed to manage paper-based systems
- Access documents remotely for streamlined approvals and other administrative tasks that commonly create bottlenecks
- Consolidate client documentation and history in a searchable document storage system
- Quickly resolve disputes with quick document access
- Improve customer service with remote access and simplified, secure sharing
OCR technology software allows you to absorb information, including handwritten notes. If you find healthcare providers at your clinic prefer to stick to their old-school note-taking, these notes can be absorbed and added to digital patient files using OCR tech. Considering more than half of physicians in Canada have been using electronic medical records since 2012, you are way behind the game if you haven’t made the transition.
OCR allows you to make a far easier switch to digital, including:
- Reducing manual data entry when processing patients
- Reducing errors in data entry, improving patient care
- Making it easier to share, search and store historical data with other healthcare providers, labs, imaging clinics, etc.
- Far less storage space means more space to create comfortable, private areas to interact with patients
Administrative tasks across your organization become more efficient with digital files and OCR capabilities, including:
- Scanning print documents and converting them line by line into live text that can be searched, highlighted and copied, and edited
- No need for manual data entry from forms, documents, spreadsheets, etc.
- Improved accuracy with less data entry
- Improved approval processes with automated approval streams directly to key stakeholders across multiple departments
- Always having a soft copy available in your archives and document management storage system
- Easy accessibility to digital, workable files from anywhere and at anytime, ideal for today’s mobile and work-from-home workforce
- Freed up workspace, with no need for expensive offsite paper document storage
Departments such as HR where there are a lot of forms and tons of inefficient rekeying of handwritten data into your system see significant time saving in the onboarding process. As a result, they can focus on core functions such as employee retention and recruiting top talent.
OCR software allows you to remain compliant with several different watchdogs to avoid penalties and fines, including:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Child Protection Information Network for child Children’s Aids Societies
- Ontario Health and Safety and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
- Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA)
Once documents are secure in your document management system, OCR helps streamline processes so you can implement the following:
- A framework for document classification
- Monitor documents for life cycles and retention periods
- Introduce and maintain version control
- Improve secure storage and introduce restricted access control
You’ll also enhance your workflow with secure, easy access to searchable, editable documents compliant with the regulations in your industry.
Why You Need OCR Software
You know you’ve put off digitization for too long. However, this is the perfect time to leverage the best OCR for scanned documents software to create a streamlined transformation process. Using OCR, your scanned paper documents become live documents ready to search and edit, minimizing disruptions and optimizing productivity and efficiency.
To speak to an expert about your scanning project and leveraging OCR, click here to set up a free consultation with MES today.