Despite the increasing digitization of business today, the truth is that the paperless office is far from a reality. Most organizations still rely on the exchange of paper forms, records and documents to get the job done. Indeed, a great deal of printed information drives the fundamental workflow and success of nearly any organization. Pick a key business activity and you can bet that printed documents play a fundamental part in the process.
But paper-based processes can be fraught with problems. Workflow inefficiencies, administration and paperwork, and ubiquitous expense for things like printing, copying, paper and postage can all impact the bottom line. In addition, things like team collaboration, data security and customer service all can suffer from the burden of paper. And the pace of business combined with the always-connected, 24/7 nature of society today makes relying on paper an increasingly risky position for organizations of all sizes and in all industries.
Innovations in document and data capture are beginning to change all that, and one important technique for doing so is distributed capture using multifunction printers (MFPs). A new generation of multifunction-based capture tools and systems is making it possible to bridge the gap between paper-based and digital documents, which can help reduce the burden of paper in business process. Instead of shipping stacks of paper to a centralized scanning facility, distributed capture is a strategy for entering documents into the business process in decentralized locations – where they originate – using multifunction devices. This gives organizations the ability to integrate paper into digital workflow much earlier in the process and virtually from anywhere or at any time.
Another development that enables advanced workflows and case management features is innovation in intelligent data capture software. For instance, systems can prompt users to input a specific series of needed documents – say for a loan application or new client onboarding – and trigger downstream processes for case management, order processing or any variety of other related activities. In this way, distributed capture provides the ability to establish an affordable and efficient document management system across multiple offices and locations.
For organizations like these with a multitude of paper documents being generated in multiple locations, moving scanning and capture functions to the local MFP helps save on mail and courier expense, speeds data input, and expedite the processing of critical business documents. Capturing documents at the point of origin also improves cycle times, as the captured information can be immediately fed into larger enterprise processes and systems. Indeed, more and more organizations are leveraging the full value of capture technology this way, by moving capture functions to the edge of the enterprise, where data most often enters an organization and where knowledge workers know the process best.
The process is made even simpler for these workers because many new systems and tools include a variety of pre-built, process-centric capture applications directly on the MFP screen. Based on the security profile and login of each user, employees trigger a document capture workflow directly from the MFP based on the provided options, and work through the process of collecting and capturing the needed documents and information. As a result, the process can become quicker, more complete, and the risk of overlooking important documents or routing them incorrectly is significantly less.
If you have considered distributed capture using MFPs in the past but did not recognize the benefits, it’s time to look again. This approach helps organizations get critical information into business processes more quickly and more accurately with less expense. The result is improved agility, efficiency and speed by enabling employees to capture documents at the point of origination and take advantage of pre-configured workflows. Organizations save costs by eliminating document shipping, paper handling and storage as well as reducing the need for manual data entry and expensive centralized staffing.