Top Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Capture System

by Kevin Craine | 9/21/15

The notion of “capture” is one that has been around a while. We’re all familiar with the ability to scan a sheet of paper and capture a digital image of the page. More advanced data capture systems take the technology one step further by allowing us to capture specific bits of information, like a name, account number, or a date, for example, and export that data into various business systems and databases. The newest approaches include mobile capture and seamless integration of both data and documents into a digital workflow enterprise-wide.

Capturing Competitive Advantage

Despite the advantages, many organizations do not use data capture systems in ways that take full advantage of the technology. Indeed, one recent study conducted by AIIM found that most enterprise organizations have scan and capture systems already in place, but only half employ any kind of data capture or text recognition technology. This trend may be changing, however. The study shows also that a majority of companies (67 percent) feel that advanced capture will “play a key role” and is “quite important” in their future strategies. Speeding the pace of business, eliminating paper-bound inefficiencies and boosting customer experience are all competitive advantages C-suite leaders see as a result of adopting advanced capture technologies and strategies.

  Are you ready to move forward with advanced capture? Not all solutions are created equal.

Capturing Value

Are you ready to move forward with advanced capture? If you are evaluating potential capture solutions, the essential question becomes: With all the approaches and solutions to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you?  Here are five important questions to consider in your evaluation.

1.   Will this solution grow and scale as you grow?

Most capture systems require users to program every action. And the more granular and flexible you want your capture system to be, the more program coding required. Next-generation capture solutions use a rules-based approach that does not require coding each application from scratch. And rather than follow a peer to peer architecture that requires that a specific client be designated for a specific function (e.g., OCR, validation, etc.), a client-server approach provides the ability to separate clients and servers, and allocate work to idle clients as needed. Does the solution demonstrate a viable path forward as your enterprise needs grow and evolve?  

2.   Does this solution integrate with other systems and processes?

It is common for companies to have many different data systems and any number of content and document repositories. These multiple systems sustain varied and often distinct functions such as records management, corporate finance, human resources or claims processing. Whereas in the past capture systems tended to be isolated and process-specific, today’s systems serve to connect documents and data to any number of processes across the organization. How well will the potential solution integrate with your other systems and processes?

3.   Does this solution support multi-channel input?

Capture systems are evolving from localized paper-imaging systems to encompass all types of information and content. And according to the AIIM research, organizations still process a lot of paper (about 40 percent), but the rest takes form in other “multi-channels” like email, fax, mobile, and legacy data streams. It simply no longer makes sense to receive an email or fax, which is already electronic to begin with, only to print it out on paper in order to scan it into the system. Does the solution address the need for multi-channel input?

4.   Is your organization going mobile?

We live in an age of mobile computing. One study from Gartner shows that 58 percent of American adults use a smartphone, more than 40 percent own a tablet, and mobile computing grew by 81% just last year alone.  As a result, mobile capture is taking center stage for many organizations. According to AIIM, 45 percent of companies that surveyed feel that mobile capture is vitally important, pointing to the competitive need for improved process agility and customer service. Capture is quickly finding its way into mobile applications. Will your solution position you to be ready?

5.   Do you have confidence your software vendor can deploy the solution? 

It seems that every printer/copier vendor has a capture solution. But advanced capture systems are integral to performance across more widely varied applications and functions. As a result, capturing the value of capture requires a high level of expertise across varied disciplines, especially when requirements include integration with other business functions, repositories and databases. Are you confident your software vendor can support these needs, understand the unique requirements, and effectively integrate capture across your enterprise? 

Moving Forward

Not all capture solutions are created equal; especially as you consider how advanced capture solutions can be used in new and more beneficial ways throughout an enterprise. Use these five questions to help identify which features and capabilities are most important and which solution will best fits your needs.  Look for providers and partners with the right mix of expertise, vision and capability that will allow you to capture the increasing value of advanced capture systems and strategies.  

Guest contributor Kevin Craine is the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy and a respected authority on document management and process improvement. He is the managing director of Craine Communications Group. For more information visit

Kevin Craine is the managing director of Craine Communications Group. He is writer, podcaster and technology analyst, as well as the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy and a respected authority on document management and process improvement. He was named the No. 1 ECM Influencer to follow on Twitter.