July 2009

Converting Paper Documents To Digital Files

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A Document Management System is an electronic system designed to organise and manage documents. These documents are usually organised with software, which provides the user with the ability to access, modify, and centrally store the documents. Document management systems handle tedious tasks such as archiving, distribution, and creation of documents.

Document management systems commonly provide storage, versioning, metadata, security, as well as indexing and retrieval capabilities. Following is a description of these components:

Metadata: Metadata is typically stored for each document. Metadata may, for example, include the date the document was stored and the identity of the user storing it. The DMS may also extract metadata from the document automatically or prompt the user to add metadata. Some systems also use optical character recognition on scanned images, or perform text extraction on electronic documents. The resulting extracted text can be used to assist users in locating documents by identifying probable keywords or providing for full text search capability, or can be used on its own. Extracted text can also be stored as a component of metadata, stored with the image, or separately as a source for searching document collections.

Integration: Many document management systems attempt to integrate document management directly into other applications, so that users may retrieve existing documents directly from the document management system repository, make changes, and save the changed document back to the repository as a new version, all without leaving the application. Such integration is commonly available for office suites and e-mail or collaboration/groupware software. Integration often uses open standards such as ODMA, LDAP, WebDAV and SOAP to allow integration with other software and compliance with internal controls.

Capture: Images of paper documents using scanners or multifunction printers. Optical character recognition (OCR) software is often used, whether integrated into the hardware or as stand-alone software, in order to convert digital images into machine readable text.

Indexing: Track electronic documents. Indexing may be as simple as keeping track of unique document identifiers; but often it takes a more complex form, providing classification through the documents’ metadata or even through word indexes extracted from the documents’ contents. Indexing exists mainly to support retrieval. One area of critical importance for rapid retrieval is the creation of an index topology.

Storage: Store electronic documents. Storage of the documents often includes management of those same documents; where they are stored, for how long, migration of the documents from one storage media to another (hierarchical storage management) and eventual document destruction.

Retrieval: Retrieve the electronic documents from the storage. Although the notion of retrieving a particular document is simple, retrieval in the electronic context can be quite complex and powerful. Simple retrieval of individual documents can be supported by allowing the user to specify the unique document identifier, and having the system use the basic index (or a non-indexed query on its data store) to retrieve the document. More flexible retrieval allows the user to specify partial search terms involving the document identifier and/or parts of the expected metadata. This would typically return a list of documents which match the user’s search terms. Some systems provide the capability to specify a Boolean expression containing multiple keywords or example phrases expected to exist within the documents’ contents. The retrieval for this kind of query may be supported by previously-built indexes, or may perform more time-consuming searches through the documents’ contents to return a list of the potentially relevant documents.

Distribution: A published document for distribution has to be in a format that can not be easily altered. As a common practice in law regulated industries, an original master copy of the document is usually never used for distribution other than archiving. If a document is to be distributed electronically in a regulatory environment, then the equipment tasking the job has to be quality endorsed and validated. Similarly quality endorsed electronic distribution carriers have to be used. This approach applies to both of the systems by which the document is to be inter-exchanged, if the integrity of the document is highly in demand.

Security: Document security is vital in many document management applications. Compliance requirements for certain documents can be quite complex depending on the type of documents. For instance the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements dictate that medical documents have certain security requirements. Some document management systems have a rights management module that allows an administrator to give access to documents based on type to only certain people or groups of people.

Workflow: Workflow is a complex problem and some document management systems have a built in workflow module. There are different types of workflow. Usage depends on the environment the electronic document management system (EDMS) is applied to. Manual workflow requires a user to view the document and decide who to send it to. Rules-based workflow allows an administrator to create a rule that dictates the flow of the document through an organisation: for instance, an invoice passes through an approval process and then is routed to the accounts payable department. Dynamic rules allow for branches to be created in a workflow process. A simple example would be to enter an invoice amount and if the amount is lower than a certain set amount, it follows different routes through the organisation.

Versioning: Versioning is a process by which documents are checked in or out of the document management system, allowing users to retrieve previous versions and to continue work from a selected point. Versioning is useful for documents that change over time and require updating, but it may be necessary to go back to a previous copy.

Canon DMS Solution

Canon offers ParaDoc and ParaFlow – a one-stop solution – to transform paper documents into   electronic images for effective information sharing, knowledge management and work progress monitor. With the direct integration of Canon and ParaDM by an eCopy connector, full-colour or black and white hard copy documents are quickly converted into digital fi les which can be easily shared, stored or distributed into ParaDM’s document management system. Moreover, all steps are performed directly on the touch screen of a Canon copier.   ParaDoc is a web-based document management system where all documents can be intelligently indexed to improve searching, well organised for document retrieval and archived for offl ine storage.

Advantages

  • Improve the re-usability of information content
  • Document version control, audit trail and reporting
  • Reduce maintenance and administration cost
  • Improve speed of search and retrieval
  • Document collaboration with internal employees or external partners
  • Document security with user, group and role based access control
  • Enhanced scanning and indexing experience
  • Simplify the management of critical email with email client plug-in
  • Enhanced security control with  document viewer

Key Technical Capabilities

  • Rule base email archiving
  • Document versioning with check-in/ check-out capability
  • User defi nable index and document profi ling
  • Audit Trailing
  • Archieve and Restore
  • Unlimited scalability to support thousands of users and manage unlimited number of documents
  • Robust security based on users, groups and roles
  • Collaboration with discussion, invitation and alert
  • Lotus Notes mail client integration
  • Folder based auto indexing
  • Document viewer supports daily document types
  • Keyword search supports relational search with a dictionary

ParaFlow is an enterprise solution that automates the lifecycle of an organisation’s business  document from document capture, creation, review, approve and archive. Furthermore,  ParaFlow does not only automate the lifecycle of an organisation’s content but also manages  an enterprise’ business process, ensuring every task within an organisation’s business process is performed by the right people, on time and minimise human error involved in the manual  work.

Advantages

  • Task priority and escalation procedure to ensure prompt responses
  • Ensure smooth process upgrade with workfl ow versioning
  • Support parallel routing for process that require that attention for multiple actors at the same time
  • User-/Role-/Group-based conditional routing
  • Pre/Post conditional routing for work tasks
  • Web-based system for online access
  • Allow business processes to be
  • visualised, standardised and performed by the right people
  • Automate business process to eliminate errors caused by manual labour
  • Email and various alert notifi cation for task arrival, completion and overdue.

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