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In some organizations, document preparation prior to scanning is the largest time cost in their document entry process. In all organizations, it’s an important consideration. Document preparation is the processes of sorting, organizing, and preparing documents for the most successful document scan and chance at accuracy in downstream software processes. Sometimes document preparation is as simple as dividing pages into a small enough stack that a document scanner can handle, to as complex as staple removing, envelop opening, and document separation using page separators.

As recognition technology advances, the need for document preparation diminishes. New technologies are allowing for automatic document separation based on templates or keywords, automatic document rotation, annotation, sorting, etc. The challenge for organizations becomes picking what document preparation step to use technology on versus manual labor. This has been a challenging question and as new technologies surface, it becomes even more challenging.

If an organization keeps its focus on return on investment, the path should become clear. Complete evaluation of the technologies will show accuracy and % of automation that can be accomplished with technology, and the amount of time and cost it will save. The tricky part of the evaluation is really in the understanding of the environment. Doing a study of how document preparation is currently done, and all document preparations required for document entry should be fairly straight-forward. Listing the features of document preparation that can be handled by software and those products that have them is a little more complex and requires an organization to spend dedicated time on it. The process of separating documents and barcodeing documents tends to be the biggest cost and the low hanging fruit to seek automation for. Using OCR software can determine document start and end with keywords versus a person manually placing separator pages or barcodes on the document.

For most organizations the result is a combination of manual and automatic. The ultimate goal would be to automate every step in document preparation that can be automated and leave those that have to be manual such as placing documents in a scanner.

Chris Riley – Industry Expert

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