Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Going Paperless at Work. - 2. Capture at the Point of Origin

Capture at Point of Origin

(#2 of a series.)

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In our last installment we discussed avoiding unnecessary scanning.  Pam Doyle of Fujitsu refers to it as not printing anything that is "born digital".  If it is created as a digital document or print data stream you can use a print transform to send a digital version along with automatically extracted indexing information directly to the end recipient or workflow, and you won't have to scan a paper copy to capture it in your digital archive.  Today, we're going to discuss when and where to capture inbound documents.

There is a growing trend toward "transactional capture", or capturing documents at the point of origin, or first transaction touch point.  Wherever the business transaction occurs; wherever paper would ordinarily be generated or received, that’s where you should be capturing digital images of them.  Last time, in point number one, printing is the point where you capture internally generated documents.  Using a print transform doesn't involve any labor; it can be a background process; it doesn't involve scanning equipment.   It's simply software.  

Inbound paper documents, coming into the mail room, should be captured in the mailroom and routed to digital workflow.  There's no need to send them through a manual paper-based workflow, and get downstream a week or so later and then scan them.  This is quite common in Accounts Payable, where invoices go through a paper-based approval process, often involving mailing or shipping the documents from one location to another.  After the invoices are matched against original purchase orders and receipt vouchers, GL account distributions are manually noted on the documents.  After final approval is obtained, they then go to batch data entry for input into open payables.  Finally, the invoices and related documents are scanned into digital archive for future reference, obviously a very time-and-cost-intensive process.  

But, if you scan invoices as soon as they come into the mailroom and route the digital document through a digital workflow, then you save all the time required to physically move the paper from one location to the next.  Plus, you also have access to the information pertaining to open payables so that you have a more complete view of your obligations.  Business intelligence is usually limited to data that has been posted after transactions are completed and not while they are in progress, no matter how long that may be.  Capturing at the first touch point means that more actionable information is available for more informed decision-making.

So, look around and see whether your department and organization can benefit from capturing documents digitally earlier in their life cycle.

Until next time,

John Queen