Most documents are not immediately machine-processable. Although template-based tools try to extract data from documents automatically, templates allow limited automation. Thus, document capture vendors started to build machine learning models using many sample documents for the last few years. As a result, these models can extract data from documents with high accuracy, and businesses can adopt this technology to many of their processes.
What is document capture?
Document capture is the process of scanning hard copy documents and capturing unstructured forms of electronic content to retrieve and turn the data into actionable information that serves a particular business function or intent. The process involves scanning or document imaging where the essential information that you need to capture is collected, categorized, processed, handled, and placed into databases. Wikipedia defines document capture tools as:
Applications that provide the ability and feature set to automate the process of scanning paper documents or importing electronic documents, often to feed advanced document classification and data collection processes.
How does it work?
Document capture is one of the main capabilities of document management systems. While documents constitute a critical part of business processes, document capture is the first step to manage the information in these documents effectively. Here is how a document capture tool works step by step:
- Documents are imported to document capture software.
- Document capture software transforms tevxt into a readable format. To enhance the image quality, it de-skews and cleans the image.
- The software analyzes the document, whether it passes predefined tolerance levels. If a document fails, the software will automatically forward it for manual verification and correction. For example, blurred characters or missing fields in the document might cause this situation.
- The software reads and filters documents automatically, based on their forms, like purchase orders, bills of lading, receipts, and more. While doing that, the unstructured data in documents are converted to structured data. With machine learning algorithms, document capture tools can improve themselves for accurate classification of input documents.
- Metadata within documents is identified, and the software makes it possible to find documents by metadata through database searches.
- Captured and validated records are transferred to the archive. Documents can also be used in automated workflows at this level.
- If needed, the captured data can be processed for further tasks like document generation.
You can read more about this in our document automation guide.
Which processes involve document capture?
We listed the main processes and the documents involved in those processes.
Accounts Payable (A/P) or Procure-to-Pay (P2): Purchase orders, Invoices
Accounts payable processing is one of the most significant back-office operations in almost every organization. Document capture tools can provide invoice automation and process invoice data, including line item information, delivery dates, shipping costs, and discounts.
An aspect that facilitates invoice processing is the Purchase Order (PO) number. Using the PO number, a company can identify the order which includes all the relevant details about the order such as the supplier data and the ordered items.
While non-PO invoices are harder to be automated, these tools can also automate the posting of non-PO invoices. To learn more about accounts payable automation, you can also read our in-depth guide.
Order Management or Order to Cash: Offers, Order forms
Order management departments use a wide range of documents to carry out their activities. While handling different types of documents manually causes mistakes and prolong processes, document capture tools can rapidly extract accurate data and classify different document types accurately. If these teams need to look up historical transactions, document capture tools keep related information in the company database.
Auditing & Tax Compliance: Invoices, Tax Statements
VAT compliance of supplier invoices needs to be audited. It is one of the top priority agenda items, especially for complex international businesses. To identify risks in real-time and identify compliance issues, companies can benefit from document capture tools. With deep learning algorithms, these tools also enable automated checks of all documents and statements related to auditing and tax compliance.
Feel free to read more in our finance automation guide.
Especially for big companies, this process takes too much time, and HR teams can miss out on some highly skilled applicants. Human resources departments can use document capture tools for automated CV screening and accelerate their recruitment processes significantly.
You can read more about it from our in-depth guide.
Travel Expense Management (T&E): Receipts
Expense reports include checks on travel receipts for compliance with company expense requirements (like business class flights), VAT deduction regulations, and income tax legislation. However, travel expense management is a highly manual process in most companies, and it also carries compliance risks regarding fraud, VAT, and payroll taxation. With document capture tools, businesses can monitor these expenses by collecting travel receipts and check if they conform to related regulations.
Loan Applications: Application forms, Payslips, W2, etc.
Processing loan applications require manual checks of applicant information. As in all processes, this is open to errors and takes significant time. Document capture tools can provide automated examinations of payslips and bank statements of applicants to accelerate the processes.
Same applies for mortgage application forms processing. Considering that an mortgage file size can be ~500 pages, using document capture tools would have critical impact in these processes.
Claims Processing: Invoices, Medical records, etc.
Claims processing means an insurance company’s procedure of receiving insurer’s claim requests, checking them for adequate information, validating them, and acting accordingly. Especially while checking, going through all related invoices, medical records, and reports can take a long time. Using document capture tools can automate and accelerate these processes without any errors.
Record Retrieval for Legal Processes: Invoices, Medical records, etc.
Document capture tools can be useful to receive necessary records for legal contract generation. When creating legal documents, for example, for claims processing, collecting all related information from medical records, insurance reports, or receipts is a tiring task. Document capture tools can automate these processes and provide faster and errorless record retrieval.
Medical Prescription Processing: Prescriptions
In healthcare services, medical prescription processing is a critical process to capture doctor, patient, and pharmaceutical information. Document capture tools provide standardized and automated prescriptions for both doctors and patients, enabling reduction in errors and process times.
What are the main benefits?
The integration of a document capture tool would provide companies exponential benefits, including significantly improving the efficiency of document-based operations and reducing costs while improving process quality. A document capture tool can offer the following benefits to your business:
Manual processes take more time and are prone to errors. Using a document capture tool would help businesses to speed up these processes, and they can capture more data at the same amount of time. According to Kofax, Upromise can now process 22000 transactions per day, which is approximately 73 times more than previously, thanks to its document capture software.
The US federal government uses more than 110,000 tons of paper annually. The cost of filing a single paper document is $20 while searching for a misfiled document costs $120, and reproducing a lost document is estimated to cost $220. This means the total cost of printing, copying, processing, and shipping is ten times the original purchase price of the document itself. While document capture tools can eliminate misfiled documents, it can also cut your company expenses significantly.
Most companies still rely on their staff to manually enter the information contained in the documents in their systems. This situation results in errors due to incomplete data, missing/correct material, and duplicates. By using document capture tools, the relevant data obtained will contain fewer errors, which help the business reports to be more reliable.
Improved employee satisfaction
While companies will face a fourfold increase in the volume of incoming business information by 2021, according to a recent study by AIIM, manual data capture is a tiresome activity for employees. While this routine does not require any high-level expertise, it also demotivates workers. Document capture tools will save workers from this demotivating role and allow them to focus on their fundamental duties. This also increases their productivity by reducing distractions.
Companies that perform their processes in paper form have lower visibility as it is more difficult to monitor these processes. Lower visibility makes these companies more vulnerable to fraudulent acts. By using document capture tools and digitization of data, businesses will have more secure and visible processes. They can reduce the risk of internal or supplier fraud to protect the client.
Better decision making
Document capture tools help users to retrieve useful information contained within unstructured data sources and transfer them to databases. Businesses can use captured data to make accurate analyses for better, data-driven decision making.
If you want to read more about document capture, these articles can also interest you:
- Data Extraction: In-depth guide for business users
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR): In-depth Guide
- Document Automation Guide for Businesses
- Invoice Capture: Guide to most firm’s first AI purchase
If you are ready to get started with document capture, we listed the top document capture vendors in a data driven, prioritized list.
If you have questions on document capture tools, feel free to contact us:
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Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 55% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE and NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and resources that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised enterprises on their technology decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch like Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Top 10 Kofax Alternatives/Competitors in 2023
Medical Record Automation for Healthcare Providers in 2023
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Document capture solutions automate the receipt, processing, export, storage, and retrieval of mission-critical information for finance and other business applications. The result is faster, more efficient, and more effective business processes, better decision-making, and less risk of compliance issues.How do you capture documents? ›
- Open the Google Drive app .
- In the bottom right, tap Add .
- Tap Scan .
- Take a photo of the document you'd like to scan. Adjust scan area: Tap Crop . ...
- Create your own title or select a suggested title. Suggested titles are only available in the United States.
- To save the finished document, tap Save .
While handling different types of documents manually causes mistakes and prolong processes, document capture tools can rapidly extract accurate data and classify different document types accurately.How does document management system work? ›
Document management, often referred to as Document Management Systems (DMS), is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper-based information captured through the use of a document scanner.What are the advantages of documents? ›
- A single source of truth saves time and energy. ...
- Documentation is essential to quality and process control. ...
- Documentation cuts down duplicative work. ...
- It makes hiring and onboarding so much easier.
There are many well-known benefits of digitization, like increased efficiency, easier collaboration, and enhanced accessibility. However, there is one benefit of digitizing documents that is often overlooked — the ability to free up physical space.How does document capture work? ›
Document capture is the process of scanning hardcopy documentation and other forms of unstructured information to extract, edit, classify or manage data. The captured data is stored on a central repository so that users across an organization can access and retrieve information when they need it.What is the difference between scan and capture? ›
Document scanning creates digital files from physical documents. Document capture refers to bringing those scanned images, along with other digital files that may include photo and video files, into a document management system (DMS) or enterprise content management system (ECM).What is the purpose of scanning a document? ›
Document scanning is basically digitising paper documents. Through the use of a scanning device, hard copy documents are converted into an image for more efficient storage, security, and management. Many organizations specifically benefit from document scanning.Can I scan documents with my phone? ›
Just scan it using the Google Drive app and your device's camera. Your scanned document is stored in Drive as a PDF. Scan receipts, customer files, and other important documents on the go.
The best way to edit a scanned document is by using a PDF editor with Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR is a technology that turns text from images, scanned documents, and PDFs into text that you can edit, search, and interact with. However, not every PDF editor or scanner comes with OCR.Which are three functions of a document management system? ›
A document management system (DMS) is usually a computerized system used to store, share, track and manage files or documents. Some systems include history tracking where a log of the various versions created and modified by different users is recorded.What is an example of a document management system? ›
These tools are often cloud-based. This means people can access the files they need anywhere with an internet connection. Document management system examples include Microsoft SharePoint, Amazon WorkDocs, and Dokkio.What is basic document management? ›
Document management is a system or process used to capture, track and store electronic documents such as PDFs, word processing files and digital images of paper-based content. Document management can save you time and money.What are the benefits of document controller? ›
- An easy way for document organization. ...
- Consistency and standardization. ...
- A great tool that helps identify bottlenecks and delays. ...
- A document control system saves time for document controllers. ...
- Better compliance with regulations and standards.
- Benefit #1: Stronger Access Control. ...
- Benefit #2: Improved Compliance. ...
- Benefit #3: Transparency of Information. ...
- Benefit #4: Global Collaboration. ...
- Benefit #5: Improved Quality Management. ...
- Benefit #6: Disaster Recovery. ...
- Benefit #7: Business-Wide Streamlining.
It improves business performance and operational agility by optimizing core processes. Documenting processes during execution enables employees to learn by doing, gleaning insight from both mistakes and successes to refine processes.What are the benefits of document automation? ›
- Faster Document Generation. Creating and routing digital documents is easy with the right document automation platform. ...
- Reduced Error. ...
- Better End-User Experience. ...
- Greater Access. ...
- Version Control and Consistency. ...
- Easy Collaboration. ...
- More Security. ...
- Integrated Systems.