How Efficient is Your Business?

It’s no surprise that during our recent economic struggles there is a heightened sense of urgency to save both time and money. Amazingly, a lot of companies today are not putting money in their budgets to look for technology to help increase efficiencies. Instead, they are focusing internally on costs and expenses, such as supplies and overhead. This is a great place to start but it may not be enough to stay competitive within the evolving markets with customers demanding more value for less money at an increased pace.

Many companies that are going a step further and implementing Automated Data Capture solutions to achieve these benefits. These systems automatically extract the information from documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for typed text and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) for handwritten text. This solution benefits companies that process an average to high amount of documents on a daily basis by reducing the manual data entry costs and processing and delivering the captured data to the people, systems, and processes faster than before.

We know that paper processing costs are high and the time it takes to manually input important data from paper is slow. All too often, companies are paying higher salaries to highly-skilled staff that are doing data entry work as a part of their job. Unfortunately, these tasks take away from where you want these skilled staff to spend a majority of their time – think sales and CRM updates.

What if you could start saving money and start seeing a ROI within six to nine months of implementation?

The key is looking at the whole document lifecycle, from beginning to end and evaluating the daily activities of your staff. You can start taking advantage of data capture in one part of the organization, and gradually expand the solution into other areas of the organization to further reduce costs and increase efficiencies. At the same time, the organization is building a data capture infrastructure.

Imagine starting with the more simple documents, invoices perhaps, then working to the more complicated or robust documents, such as reports, medical claims, complex sales, etc. Finding a solution with the capability to provide you with flexible capture options is a big plus. You want a solution that will easily capture the information regardless of the document format without requiring an IT/technical guru to set it up.

Simplifying the whole document lifecycle is also a key factor for the software you choose. In terms of document management , this would include capturing the image, storing the data and document image for future lookup/retrieval, and exporting the data into your business systems.

You can spend more time (and money) looking for software companies that will handle each of these tasks, or engage with a company that can offer a turnkey solution, because time is of the essence when it comes to increasing profits.

Want to learn more about how you can start saving both time and money today? Contact us at Advanced Data Spectrum.

Join us at AIIM Forum UK 2016

ADS in partnership with AIIM:

Gain competitive edge from your most valuable asset…

With the global economy finally gaining momentum but still highly unpredictable, this is a key moment to review how your information systems can be better leveraged to minimise risk, redefine business processes and prepare for sustained growth.

Over the next few years, the cumulative impact of developments such as the cloud, big data, content analytics, smarter mobile apps and the Internet of Things will force organisations to either embrace the full range new information management technologies – or put themselves at a significant disadvantage.

Which is why we hope to see you at the AIIM Forum UK in London on 22nd June 2016…

REGISTER online to start transforming your information strategy.

The AIIM Forum UK is a FREE independent event brought to you by AIIM International, to deliver thought leadership, market insights and expert advice through a one day education-rich programme.

World-class speakers include AIIM’s Global President John Mancini (from the US) plus a wide range of industry experts, technology specialists and in-house practitioners – jointly delivering an unmissable programme of inspirational keynotes, free seminars & roundtables and a unique showcase of the latest information management innovations.

John says, “I’m really looking forward to getting back to London for this event – it’s one I look forward to every year. If you’ve never attended before, it is a totally free event that I will be keynoting. We’ll be focusing on the cumulative impact of developments, such as the cloud, big data, content analytics, smarter mobile apps and the Internet of Things, on organisations like yours.”

As you are probably aware, the problem is not that ECM is no longer relevant. It is a good description of the set of capabilities that evolved from document management and workflow, and a good label for the technologies and capabilities needed to automate relatively static, document-intensive, mission-critical processes.

“Every organization, every executive, every individual, every object is on a digital journey and content is at the

heart of that journey. Content is ubiquitous and critical, but ECM is rapidly becoming invisible.”

-futurist Thornton May.

As an industry and as information professionals, we often explain the business problems we solve in “elevator pitches” that would take a 4,000-storey elevator to tell and use insider terms that the business just doesn’t get. And our pitches can be so rooted in where we have been that we forget to tell people where we are going. So let’s start making the case for better information processes in straight-forward terms that everyone understands…

Join us at the AIIM Forum UK on 22nd June 2016 to find out the latest innovations in content and information management:

  • Integrate communications across multiple channels
  • Improve frontline service and increase customer loyalty
  • Reduce process costs without sacrificing quality
  • Minimise legal & financial risk
  • Unlock the potential of mobile, cloud & social technologies
  • Gain competitive advantage
  • Build sustainable growth

This independent event is brought to you by AIIM International to deliver a wealth of thought leadership, market insights and practical advice in a single time-effective day.

And best of all…registration is FREE!

What is your digital transformation strategy?

Does your business have a digital transformation strategy? If the answer is “No”, don’t be discouraged. Plenty of organizations are in the same boat.

There are many reasons why people are hesitant about moving forward with a digital plan. Some fear change, others are concerned about process disruptions, and still others are concerned about the costs of implementing new systems or updating legacy systems. Fortunately, the benefits of moving to a digital system outweigh the pain points experienced along the way.

In AIIM’s Digital Transformation in Action, Patrick McGrath of EMC states, “Digital transformation impacts all areas of the organization, including how work gets done. Better enabling knowledge workers represents one of the single largest opportunities for business transformation in the digital era. Knowledge workers represent 27% of employment costs and many estimate that more than 50% of their time is spent inefficiently. … Disruptors who embrace this approach will win in the digital economy.”

In its article, AIIM expands upon the necessity of digital transformation:

“Simply speaking, according to the World Economic Forum, we are on the cusp of the next industrial revolution,

one that is combining digital and physical systems to create radically new value propositions –

and in the process, disrupting many existing businesses.”

Each organization’s ability to manage and utilize its information assets will be critical to its future success. Regardless of the business type, information gleaned from customers, product shipments, online activity, and other sources, can be used to propel organizational knowledge and success. Not only does it offer insight into business inefficiencies, it also offers an opportunity to understand and invest in customer-centric processes.

In their article, AIIM provides 21 “rules” to help get you started. They offer practical advice and include insightful quotes from industry leaders, such as Pam Doyle of Fujitsu, who states, “You will not overcome digital disruption overnight. Start with a single project. Select one that will yield a ‘quick win’ to demonstrate proof of concept and the potential return on the investment. This will show sound use of your resources and will help get the commitment for additional projects.”

To view the full article from AIIM, including their list of “21 Things You Need To Know” about digital transformation, click here.

If you are ready to move forward, but need help developing a plan, contact us.

 

The Customer Experience

The key to a successful business is managing and improving customer service.

Customers want to feel as if their inquiries are taken seriously and will be handled in a personalized, efficient manner. With a variety of inbound communication channels to choose from, customers have easy access to representatives, but it is the speed and quality of the response that makes the difference.

In a recent article by AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), they state, “Managing multiple inbound channels and subsequent customer workflows for responsiveness, consistency, and compliance presents a challenge, requiring strong procedural adherence, while also providing a degree of personal attention to individual customer’s needs.”

While workflows can be utilized to correctly direct the various forms of inbound communication, the subsequent steps are what make or break the customer experience. The workflow processes need to be intuitive and should leverage the expertise of customer-facing employees, rather than relying on decisions made solely within the IT department. Workflows should also be flexible and learn new pathways that lead to successful outcomes, giving customer service employees the tools to exceed customer expectations.

In addition, workflows mired in paper can be problematic, so all inbound communications should be digitized. AIIM notes that, “50% of respondents are still driving paper through the process workflow, including 12% who print inbound digital items in advance of the process.”

Errors and mistakes due to manual data entry are annoying to customers, leading to a frustrating experience. By moving to a digitized workflow, such issues would be minimized and correspondence would be immediately available in the customer data system. When speaking to a representative, customers expect all of their information and correspondence to be available- even if it was only sent a few minutes ago.

According to AIIM, of the businesses who were using or experimenting with adaptive and intelligent inbound systems,

  • “70% report faster and more consistent customer response.”
  • “50% report they are able to cut out unnecessary steps and shorten end-to-end cycle times.”

Just remember, when customers receive prompt, personalized service, both the business and the customer win.

To read AIIM’s full report, click here.

 

 

 

The Paperless Office – 4 Steps To Digitizing Your Business.

Businesses are steadily upgrading to digital core processes. Incoming forms and documents are captured into digital systems and moved through various workflows, automatically flagging some for review and processing others for payment. Purchase orders are automatically verified and sent to the warehouses. These are referred to as “back office” systems.

Customer-facing employees, known as the “front office,” have seen their efficiencies improved by implementing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, help desk support and website improvements.

While both of those business segments have seen an increase in automation and digitization, the “middle office”, where meetings occur, projects are managed and decisions are made, is lagging behind.

According to a study conducted by AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), the activities that occur in the “middle office” are deeply entrenched in manual processes and paperwork.

 

34% of respondents admit that their offices are piled high with paper...

Only 16% run a clear-desk, mostly paper-free office.

 

Let’s face it, people like paper. We like the feel of a paper book, the smell of a freshly-printed newspaper, the sheen of colorful magazines, etc. In the business setting, however, paper can be cumbersome and lead to inefficiencies. Some of the reasons people continue to use paper are habit, security and a lack of clear alternatives. For instance, instead of bringing an iPad or laptop to meetings, many people still prefer to take printed documents for taking notes. In the AIIM study, a full 52% prefer the convenience of taking a paper document with them to review and edit.

blue-metallic-orb-icon-business-signature_croppedThose who work in the financial or legal industries also continue to lean heavily towards paper. When a signature is needed, 51% still want the person to actually sign on the dotted line instead of creating a digital version. According to AIIM, “A so-called “wet signature” is often deemed to be the only legal option, despite the fact that the representation of a signature as a bit-mapped image is enshrined in most legal jurisdictions.”

With the introduction of cloud-based options like Office 365, Google Docs and DropBox, sharing and collaboratively editing documents has become a lot simpler. Even so, 58% of the survey respondents admit that they store local copies on their PCs and share via email. Only 15% collaborate via cloud file share. Some people are just not yet entirely comfortable with the security offered in “the cloud.”

Another area in which “middle office” workers can improve productivity and document storage is by taking advantage of the scanning function within their MFPs (Multi-Function Printers). In fact, 26% of those surveyed admit that their MFPs are primarily used for printing and copying rather than scanning.

So, what can be done to help ease the transition to a paperless office? Here are a few suggestions from AIIM:

  1. Verify that MFPs are being used to their full potential. Train users on how to use the scanning functionality and how to route scanned images to specific locations or workflows.
  2. Prioritize the move to a paperless office by reinforcing paper-free processes and digital filing.
  3. Train office staff on the full range of available e-signature solutions, and discuss any concerns with legal advisors.
  4. Implement an integrated collaboration platform that provides a full range of office productivity solutions.

To bring the “middle office” into the digitized age, each organization must come up with a clear set of alternative solutions for their staff. If people are directed and encouraged by their IT department to use specific systems, and are trained in those systems, they are more likely to adapt. It is the lack of clear alternatives, and the lack of direction, that can be discouraging and lead people back to comfortable, paper-laden habits.

If your organization is struggling to find tangible, paper-free solutions, Advanced Data Spectrum can help.

Contact us today.

 

 

Ring in the New Year with a New Process

Is 2016 the year your business moves to digital document capture and management?

A new year offers new promise and a fresh start, so why not start the year right by cleaning up old stagnant business processes.

For those of you who are still using spreadsheets and manual data entry in your accounting processes, I want you to know that there is a better way!

Many businesses have already started to capture their paper documents electronically by using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. By using OCR, businesses can capture basic text from a scanned document. Many printers have the ability to do OCR scans, which can certainly help in gathering digital representations of invoices, memos, remittance, etc. Unfortunately, those pre-installed OCR programs can’t apply business rules, and do not integrate into existing business systems. Your staff will still have to manually enter the data into your ERP or accounting system, which can be frustrating, tedious and error-prone.

Thankfully, there is an alternative: Intelligent Data Capture (IDC).

By using an IDC system, you can save time and money, automatically verify prices and codes, streamline your accounting processes and provide exceptional customer service.Advanced Capture Spectrum

How does an IDC system work? Intelligent Data Capture systems learn to recognize, classify, and extract key information, while automatically flagging questionable entries for review and approval.

With an IDC, your business can process large amounts of inbound purchase orders, invoices, applications and remittance from a wide variety of vendors and customers using customized business rules. As new document types are processed, business rules are added. Before long, the system practically runs itself! Your staff will be able to focus more on customer service and less on data entry.

Our IDC system, Advanced Capture Spectrum™, includes all of the features listed above and more:

  • Information can be GL coded.
  • Intelligent document separation.
  • 99.5% accuracy rating.
  • Automatically integrates with your accounting or ERP system for a complete automation solution.
  • Improve customer service and data governance by using the built-in document management system and robust search engine.

Make 2016 the year that you move to Intelligent Data Capture!

For more information on the Advanced Capture Spectrum system, download our FREE Whitepaper.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

4 Best Practices for Data Quality Management

Does your organization struggle with poor data quality? If so, you are not alone. According to a leading data quality expert, 91 percent of organizations are troubled by data errors.

The Big Data phenomenon has taken a toll on many businesses that have not matched their infrastructure to the increased flow of data. Many businesses are unwilling to update their systems because cleansing and integrating data can be a tedious, costly and- let’s face it- scary process.

Unfortunately, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. In fact, data is growing at such a fast pace that waiting will simply make it harder and costlier to clean up the systems. Estimates project that by 2020, there will be 50 times the data that exists today.

banner_tracking_smallSo, how does data become inaccurate in the first place? According to a recent study, these are some of the leading causes:

►  Manual date entry: Manual data entry is by far the #1 cause of data inaccuracy
Outdated, disparate database systems: 66 percent of organizations lack a coherent, centralized approach.
Manual data management: Manual data management techniques are used by 53 percent of organizations.
Duplicate records due to minor discrepancies: 30 percent of organizations rank duplicate data among the top three causes for their inaccurate data.
Outdated data: Each month, approximately two percent of contact data becomes outdated. That equates to almost 25 percent of the database annually.

Fortunately, there are some common-sense approaches that can be implemented while your business plans for a longer-term data quality solution.

Here are 4 basic steps to improve data quality:

  1. Verify data at the time it is entered
    It is much more cost-effective to verify data at the time it is entered- whether it comes from an invoice, a customer profile, a purchase order, or other form. Experts estimate that it costs $1 to verify data while it is being entered, but will cost $100 if it goes unchecked.
  2. Regularly check databases for duplicate entries
    It is important that databases are checked at regular intervals to ensure that duplicate records haven’t been created. When duplicates are found, the information should be integrated as quickly as possible.
  3. Expand search functionality
    Basic search functionality within database systems is usually poor, requiring an exact match to find an existing record. That limitation is often how duplicates are created. Minor variations, such as name abbreviations or transposed letters or numbers can exclude the target record. With expanded search functionality, records with similar names or numbers can be included for a more comprehensive results list.
  4. Validate customer information
    Contact information changes regularly. So, it’s important to verify records as often as possible. Efforts can include directly reaching out to the consumer, verifying existing information the next time the individual makes contact with your business, or watching outbound communication efforts for signs that customer information may not be accurate- such as bounced e-mail marketing or returned mailers.

Big Data is here to stay. The sooner your business develops a cohesive plan, the better. With the four steps listed above, you can begin to gain insight into your data’s current quality and implement a strategy to validate, monitor and cleanse your data, all while planning for a more comprehensive solution.

Advanced Data Spectrum has over 22 years of experience helping businesses capture and manage their data. Contact us for more information on how we can help your business.

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Is Your Business At Risk?

“Data governance (DG) refers to the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data employed in an enterprise.” (datagovernance.com)

Most organizations have some form of data governance, whether their data is stored in spreadsheets, database systems, or an enterprise-level document management system. So, the question is whether it’s time for your organization to move from informal data governance to formal data governance.

According to David L. Stevens of Carnegie Mellon University, “Organizations need to move from informal governance to formal Data Governance when one of four situations occurs:

  1. The organization gets so large that traditional management isn’t able to address data-related cross-functional activities.
  2. The organization’s data systems get so complicated that traditional management isn’t able to address data-related cross-functional activities.
  3. The organization’s Data Architects, SOA teams, or other horizontally-focused groups need the support of a cross-functional program that takes an enterprise (rather than siloed) view of data concerns and choices.
  4. Regulation, compliance, or contractual requirements call for formal Data Governance.”

With the rapid growth of data within organizations, along with an increase in regulatory and legal implications, getting your Electronically Stored Information (ESI) in order has become paramount. The truth is businesses must be more proactive if they want to mitigate risk and reduce expenses, should they need to prove the circumstances of an event.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you know how long your business is required to keep specific data, such as tax information, invoices, or payments?
  • Can you easily search ALL of your current and archived data by specific dates or keywords?
  • How long would it take your business to provide all of the data and document images requested in a discovery?

Is your business on the road to compliance?
If you are not sure about any one of those items, your business may be at risk. The implementation of a formal data governance plan, along with a robust document scanning and data capture system, will help provide your business with a plan and assurance that your data will be available when it is needed.

Our team can help you assess your risk and develop a formal data governance solution. Contact us today.

 

For more information on Data Governance, click here.

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Are You Prepared For The EU Data Protection Regulations?

Do you own or manage a business within the EU? Does your business reside outside of the EU, but house any personal or organizational data originating from within the EU? If either of these statements is true, you will want to read this blog.

 

Within the next couple of years, EU data protection regulations will be changing with the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.London Bridge

According to Computer Weekly, “Data storage regulations in Europe are currently driven by provisions of the EU Data Protection Directive and their respective applications in member states… The current EU data protection regime requires organisations to take ‘appropriate security measures to protect personal data.’ It is based around eight principles driving the data protection regime that dictate how personal data must be acquired, maintained, updated, stored, protected and disposed of.”

The new laws are meant to streamline security practices by moving from disparate member-state regulations to a single regulation for the entire EU, and will affect both in-house and external cloud storage.

Among the reforms, the new law includes substantial changes in the area of personal data storage. With the ever expanding cloud-based sector, data security is increasingly being managed by a third party, rather than the business that initially acquired the information – otherwise known as the data controller. As such, the third party assumes the responsibilities of the data controller and is expected to protect all personal data.

The article explains, “The responsibilities of data controllers will also increase. They’ll have to put policies and procedures in place. Data controllers will have to demonstrate they have carried out staff training and checked that data processors are also ‘taking appropriate security measures’ to protect personal data pertaining to customers, employees and contractors.
From a cloud perspective, there will be a right to be forgotten and to data portability. This means that cloud providers will be required to delete information about a person or business if they request it to, and the person or business will be allowed to move data from one cloud provider to another.”

The regulations will not be limited to companies residing in the EU. Any data belonging to EU citizens or organizations that is managed by a third party outside of the EU must be secured and transferred with security protocols that are at least as stringent as those required in the EU. In other words, a cloud-based storage provider in the US would have to abide by these regulations when storing data originating in the EU.

The article cautions businesses that plan to use a public or hybrid cloud to carefully review the contract to verify that the security measures are in-line with EU standards. Some cloud-based storage providers may also try to include liability restrictions.

In addition to the data security measures, there are some additional updates regarding data retention and industry standards. For example, specific types of data must be kept for longer periods of time and some cardholder data is not allowed to be stored at all.

The article warns, “Consider the potential for e-discovery. You need to make sure you know what data you are actually storing, for whom and who’s doing that on your behalf if you use a third party.”

According to Cameron Coles, of Skyhigh, “Only 1 in 100 Cloud Providers Meet Proposed EU Data Protection Requirements.”

Now, more than ever, businesses must be proactive about their plans to handle data capture and storage compliance.

For more information on the new regulations, click here.

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Invoice Processing Costs Out of Control?

Are the costs related to processing invoices from multiple store locations adding significant overhead, and as a result, impacting your profitability? Data centralization issues, process inefficiencies, and inconsistent processes applied within each location, are common challenges that can be overcome using these 5 steps:

  1. Move from processing invoices manually to an automated system. The first step in reducing your invoice processing costs is to implement a centralized data capture system at the corporate office. This will free your highly-skilled employees from focusing on data entry, and will save your business significant time and money.
  2. Add a scanner at each business location so invoices do not have to be mailed to the corporate office. Instead of sorting, packing and mailing invoices to the corporate office, have each location scan their invoices into the system. The data capture software will automatically sort the invoices, capture their data, and run validation - offering immediate visibility, while improving accuracy.
  3. Each location should immediately check for data capture issues so they are caught early. Make sure each location is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and quality of their scanned invoices. This early correction is easier to resolve and prevents costly errors down the line.
  4. Integrate the data capture system with your existing databases and accounting software. Choose a data capture system that seamlessly integrates with your existing databases and accounting software. By using your existing accounting software, your employees can continue to use the system they are familiar with, while minimizing additional training.
  5. Use the improved process visibility within an automated system to decrease exposure to compliance and risk issues. A powerful system, such as Advanced Retail Spectrum, will leverage a rules-based extraction engine to immediately recognize each scanned field, compare it to existing data, and alert the user to any duplicate invoices, pricing inconsistencies, vendor changes, etc. This lowers your exposure to compliance and risk issues.

Using the 5 steps listed above, your business will improve process efficiencies, streamline capture, and enhance productivity—all while improving cash flow and decreasing operating expenses.

Click here to learn more about how our data capture system can help your business.

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