Barcodes, time savers, and wasters
Barcodes are a great technology. You can fit a lot of information in a barcode, they can be read at any angle, and they are also very accurate. You have to degrade 30% of a barcode before it’s unreadable. In data capture, barcodes are commonly used for batch cover sheets, document separation, or printed on the document themselves. This has been proven to be a time saver both in quality and because they can be read very quickly using both software based and hardware based solutions. What organizations often don’t think about is the additional time and cost that barcodes add to the capture process.
Organizations usually don’t connect document creation and prep time with data capture time. The total time and cost associated with the capture of documents is not just from the point of scan to export. It is all the additional steps leading up to the scan to get the document in the state it needs to be fore scanning. If an organization uses barcode pages to separate documents, it’s the time it takes for an operator to generate the pages and put them manually between documents. If organizations use barcode pages as batch separation, it’s the time it takes to create the unique barcode for each batch and place it on top of the batch prior to scan. These are just the two most common examples but there are many more. This is a common misconception because it’s not the same person doing the barcode creation and separation as the person scanning, or the barcodes are created in advanced and the time it took is forgotten.
Because organizations are not counting this into the total capture process they are missing out in the real data capture time and cost. It’s no surprise then when they are maintaining high paper cost and not reaching the ROI they expected. Barcodes are a great tool, but should be used when their benefit is greater then their time cost. Benefits can be accuracy, and process molding. Very seldom are barcodes alone responsible for substantial cost savings. Very often organizations don’t realize that they could in fact do away with barcodes by using advanced data capture. Accuracy may surfer slightly but the time savings is substantially more.
Chris Riley – Sr. Solutions Architect