How to manage information and reap benefits
The year is 2018 and we are in the middle of the process of digital transformation. Companies are using modern technologies and IT to support their business processes, but while IoT projects are being launched and artificial intelligence is being introduced into products and services, trucks are transporting loads of invoices, delivery notes and other printed documents from different locations to the company headquarters so they can be scanned and physically archived.
For a generation of digital natives, this process is perplexing; after all, it causes immense costs and takes up a lot of resources. So, why is that still the way to go for many companies? First, the paper documents have to be digitised, so they can be matched to the respective process in an ERP system, according to reference numbers – but before that an employee has to set up that process in the system by manually entering all the document data first. Even though this results in a fully documented process, getting there is long, complicated and impractical, which is the exact opposite of what digital transformation should be all about.
Better early than late
Things can be entirely different however, when your document capture solution is directly integrated into your ERP system, allowing you to switch from late archiving to early archiving. The responsible employee can start the process in the ERP by directly scanning the document – an incoming invoice for example – via a window, which is integrated into the ERP interface. The solution automatically captures all the relevant information and transfers it to the appropriate system fields. At the same time, the scanned document is automatically matched to its respective process, which eliminates the need for manually doing so later via reference number. The solution directly assigns the document to the process, so both elements remain matched from the very beginning.
Apart from saving time, this approach also reduces the possibility of mistakes, since data does not have to be processed manually anymore. Whether incoming invoices, patient files or maintenance of equipment, integrated document capture can help to optimise processes in different areas and accelerate them by up to 92 percent.
Mobile and efficient
In practice, early archiving means that employees need to scan the respective documents immediately, for which there are different methods available: Departmental scanners and MFP devices are the classic solutions for office spaces. In other workspaces such as production floors or construction sites, employees can use their smartphones to capture documents via Mobile SDK. For that, the document capture provider integrates an additional feature into an already existing company app, which allows documents to be added to ERP processes by simply taking a picture of them.
Mind the GDPR
Every company which collects, processes and analyses personal data in order to offer goods or services in the European Union, is subject to the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These organisations have to ensure that they have insight into all their collected data at any time. Additionally, upon request they must be able to provide detailed information about any enquired set of data they collected – and to make sure that they can delete a particular set of data when requested to do so. In addition, they also have to prevent unauthorised third parties from gaining access to the data. Failing to do so holds the risk of heavy penalties.
To prevent that, organisations need a document management system such as Ephesoft Transact for example, which is specifically designed to assist in fulfilling the requirements of the new regulations. A solution like that allows decision-makers to regain view of the big picture and are supports them in implementing transparency-focused security measures. There are four essential aspects to help fulfilling GDPR requirements: uncovering, managing, protecting and providing. The first step towards data transparency is the identification of documents which actually contain personal data – precisely what a solution like that is able to do.
Benefits in practice
Ephesoft Transact can process data from many different sources thanks to a wide range of APIs. This includes e-mail, mobile data, scanned documents, faxes and already saved files. In the first step, this input is directed to the Ephesoft server which can be located on premises or in the cloud. The rest of the systems could be either Windows- or Linux-based – both is compatible with the software. In the second step, the documents in question are analysed, and the contained data is classified via Supervised Machine Learning. Human users help the system in the case of unclear classifications, which means the solution is able to learn over time. With every new piece of input, it gains new information and continuously develops by saving that data.
For further processing there are interfaces for exports into different formats, filing systems or databases such as SAP, XML or CSV. In the context of the GDPR, this kind of smart software for document analysis is relevant for every company which is conducting business in the European Union and collecting, saving or processing personal data. Additionally, gaining actionable information from until then unstructured data is of interest to every organisation, whose business processes require the processing of large volumes of data. Financial service providers, banks, insurers as well as accounting and controlling departments and the public sector can benefit the most, because of the volume and sensitivity of the information which they process.
Optimising your document management can lead to significant competitive advantages and positively impact your bottom line. Meanwhile, SMEs, for which other document management solutions are often quite expensive, can use solutions like Ephesoft Transact to gain an affordable, subscription-based Capture-as-a-Service model.
Efficient process documentation via intelligent input management, directly integrated into an ERP system can increase productivity in companies by up to 400 percent. To achieve this number, decision-makers should choose a reliable and experienced partner, who is able to offer comprehensive consultation during the integration of the solution and who can facilitate a quick roll-out. To guarantee a cost-efficient implementation, it is advisable to choose a user-independent licence model and ensure that there are no additional fees for integrating into an ERP system. Various APIs also exist, which allow for a flexible deployment of such solutions for a wide range of different scenarios.
Enno Lueckel, Vice President EMEA at Ephesoft
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