Faxes Kill Efficiency, But They Just Wont Go Away
How long have we been talking about the demise of fax? But take a stroll through just about any business, and you are bound to find a fax machine, or a server-based system to accept the “should be defunct” transmissions. So why is it sticking around? This will be a series of posts tied to automating fax, and improving efficiency.
Fax has survived in several key industries that are focused on privacy and confidentiality. Even though there are many viable alternatives, none have really taken hold in the financial services, medical, education and shipping. Although security is mostly to blame, fax is just a readily available and simple to use transmission medium that just about everyone can use and access.
Some startling statistics for you:
- There are still over 46 million active fax machines in the world.
- Every year close to 17 Billion faxes are sent
- That is a stack of paper 853 miles high or 2 million trees worth of paper!!
Along with the impact on trees, is the impact on efficiency and productivity. Fax crushes efficiency by forcing paper or difficult digital documents into our organizations. Thoughts? More to come.
Barcodes = Efficiency and Productivity
We have all seen them, they are pervasive in our world. From the documents we use on a day to day basis, to the QR code we scanned with our phone. But why are businesses using barcodes, and what benefit do they provide? Below is a quick list of the benefits every business can glean from using barcodes in their operations:
Simplicity – With the tools available today, barcodes can be used by even a two-year old. On documents, advanced capture software will automatically read barcode data when scanned. In the warehouse, a barcode wand or scanner can be pointed and automatically read the contents.
Scalability – There are a wide variety of barcodes for all types of encoding of data. For simple things, like a bill of lading number, you can use a simple 1D barcodes. For complex, large data set encoding, you can use a 2D font like QR or Datamatrix.
Constantly Improving Tech – The world of barcode technology is constantly improving, and companies are looking to embed more and more data within the symbol. If you just look at the leap between 1D and 2D symbologies, it was significant.
Competitive Advantage – Your business needs to move at a hectic speed, and powerful technologies can be the difference in the competitive landscape. Barcode technology is just another technology that can reduce costs and increase profits.
Can Be Used On anything – Barcodes can be placed on documents for tracking and embedding information, but with labels, they can be placed on just about anything. From packages for track and trace, to equipment for asset management, barcodes can be leveraged for all types of business purposes.
Productivity and Efficiency – hand keying or hand writing information is time consuming and prone to human error. Barcodes reduce the time and effort required to read and log information, and allow these operations to be done with a minimal amount of error, improving efficiency and increasing productivity.
Tracking & Audit Trail – Barcodes add another dimension to tracking business processes and enhancing audit capabilities. Most of this can be done in a transparent matter through efficient data collection.
Cost Effectiveness – And last but not least, barcodes are extremely cost effective. To add them to your printed documents, you can just add a font, or utilize a powerful tool like iBar. The benefits far outweigh the low cost of implementing this technology in your organization.
Scan and Process USCIS Forms Automatically
The immigration process is quite painful, and processing government USCIS forms is a painstaking and time consuming process. Just take a look at the USCIS Collection of Immigration Forms: Immigration Forms. Check out our intelligent document capture solution for forms processing to automate your immigration and visa process.
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Another year has passed, and they seem to go by so quickly. So what are you going to do in 2015 to make your business operate more efficiently? Here are some quick ways to improve your office productivity with document automation:
- Scan your invoices. I feel for the Accounting Department. AP is the most paper laden operation in most businesses, and invoice processing is notoriously painful. Using an AP Automation process can really have an impact on an organization, and the cost savings can be huge. For more on the benefits, see our AP Automation and Invoice Processing Benefits.
- Get rid of paper forms. Digital form technology has come down significantly in price, and can save costs and make collecting information a breeze. Pick a few forms in your HR department, and see the time savings, and saved costs. More on the benefits of digital forms here: Digital Forms Benefits
- Create a digital workflow. It is amazing how many organizations still use the inbox/outbox on their desks. Moving paper through an organization for approvals can be painful. With digital workflow, you can check your inbox through a web browser, and process items with ease. Digital Workflow Solutions Info.
- Implement a digital signature technology. Collecting signatures and approvals on a document can consume time and resources. A simple digital signature solution can easily help alleviate the hassle. Combined with forms or workflow, it can be a powerful tool in adding efficiency.
- Archive your documents. The benefits of an electronic file cabinet solution are well documented, and can reduce the time required to find and distribute any document in the organization.
These are just a few solutions that can make your new year even more successful.
Sage Document Capture and Scanning Webinar
This is a recording of our document scanning and capture solution for all versions of Sage ERP, CRM and CRE. Take a look at how you can automate your Accounts Payable processing, Account Receivable, Contracts, HR, etc.
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Post AP Automation Project Benefits (The Pain Is Worth It)
Ah, the pain of going paperless. The grumpy AP Clerk that stomps her foot and says “I want my paper”. The sweat rolling down the AP Manager’s temple as they hit the green light on the scanning project to go to production. The smiles at the end of the first week, and the “That wasn’t so hard after all.”
There are always bumps in the pavement on the road to any digital AP Process. It takes a while to get the kinks out of the process, and create a “humming” invoice scanning process. It’s funny, but we mostly focus on the process improvement, speed and efficiencies gained on what we call the “front end”, or the ingestion and extraction of information from paper invoices. But there is a whole separate set of benefits that comes from creating a digital repository for later access. Below are some key benefits, post process:
- Rapid Search and Retrieval – Now that invoices are in digital form, and are full-text searchable, you now have the power of instant access at your fingertips. Need to see all invoices processed on the last two days of the month…BOOM. Want to see all invoices where widget XYZ was ordered in March…BA-BING.
- Audit Heaven – Need to provide auditors with a specific set of selected records? Just search for the documents you need, and export to a drive or network location. No more printing or copying required (insert cost and time savings here).
- The Purge – No more file cabinet and record purge parties. With advanced invoice repositories, you can now, with the click of a button, archive off older records according to your records retention policies.
- Security for Records – now your accounting records are secure, and can be restricted to only those that need access. Folders will no longer wander away, and disappear forever (or sit on someone’s desk for a week).
- Shared Access – With security in place, and an online repository created, other departments can be given access to records, which is a huge help for over tasked accounting clerks. This is an even bigger benefit in companies with a centralized HQ and branch offices that require record access.
How can digital forms improve your business?
It is amazing how many businesses still conduct many customer facing operations using paper. With all the talk of the benefits of the paperless office, eliminating paper is still a slow process for most organizations. While scanning can help reduce paper workloads, the next logical step is usually the elimination of paper-based forms with digital forms, or eforms. Below are some of the key benefits of any paperless form initiative:
- Paper and Form Cost Savings – the most basic benefit is the savings on form production and printing. Depending on how you create your forms, this can be a tremendous cost savings both in production, and in the back end processing.
- Rapid Deployment – with electronic forms, you can create your form quickly, and deploy it just as fast. No more waiting for print services or a form order.
- Instant Access to Data – with digital forms, your data is instantly accessible, in real time. You can quickly and easily make informed business decisions with all the information you require.
- Reduced Operational Costs – without the need for back-end form data entry and/or scanning and processing, you can now reduce personnel requirements, and drive down costs.
- Enable Your Mobile Workforce – with the advent of mobile technology, everyone can now be a “data collector”. Gathring information from all your employees can now be accomplished in the blink of an eye.
Did I miss any? Please comment.
5 Features Every Law Firm Can Leverage
In this day and age, law firms and legal departments are looking to technology for the edge in any legal matter. Whether it is the eDiscovery process, or just the task of scanning and performing OCR on a large volume of documents from opposing counsel, document capture applications can provide powerful, time-saving tools. Below are some key features:
- Automated Classification – with classification, documents can be automatically tagged and routed based on content or key identifying text. You can look for individual words, combinations, or even complex patterns. This provides a massive time savings, as well as an automated method of getting only the required documents to review.
- Key Data Extraction – Looking for that needle in a haystack? With Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and pattern matching, you can now pull critical case information from a document automatically, and output to a variety of formats.
- Fast OCR=Quick Searching – a semi-full of documents in boxes? No problem, with our production OCR engine, you can convert large volumes at 10-15x that of standard desktop OCR applications.
- Auto-Filing – with intelligent processing and routing, you can send only those documents that meet your rules or criteria to specific locations, allowing for rapid review.
- Digital or Paper Documents – with advanced capture, you can process legal documents from CD, a hard drive, and any other digital source. You can quickly switch back and forth between digital and a scanner for paper processing.
This is just a short list, and there are way too many features to include (redaction, bates stamping, etc.).
Don’t Ignore Your File Storage Needs
Probably one of the most ignored planning attributes in any scanning project is projecting required storage for your scanned files. Scanning to TIFF/PDF or any other image format can create huge files if not managed. Below is a quick average file size for specific scanning settings:
- 200 DPI Black and White – 26KB
- 300 DPI Black and White – 38K
- 300 DPI Grayscale – 301KB
- 300 DPI Color – 577K
Depending on your needs and requirements, 300 DPI seems to be the norm for most scanning projects. This resolution provides the smallest file size with the best image quality for enhanced document capture features like OCR. You can see that grayscale and color create huge files, and are really not required for most document archiving operations, unless there are color markups or photos involved. Tip: Most copiers today like to show off their color capabilities, and will default to color scanning, which can devastate your storage, email, or document repository.