Document Capture in 2024: A Complete Guide to Digitizing Business Documents

Document capture is the process of converting paper documents and digital files into searchable, computable data. It eliminates tedious manual data entry to streamline critical business processes.

In 2024, document capture is more important than ever as businesses digitize operations. Advances in machine learning have made capture tools flexible, user-friendly, and highly accurate. This guide explores everything you need to know about document capture.

What Exactly is Document Capture?

Let‘s start with a clear definition:

Document capture is technology that digitizes print and digital documents then extracts text, data, and metadata through automated processes.

Popular techniques include:

  • Scanning paper to create digital images
  • Applying optical character recognition (OCR) to extract text
  • Using AI/ML algorithms to classify documents and pull out fields
  • Capturing index data like document type, date, author etc.

This converts unstructured content into structured, computable data. That data can then be exported to databases, archives, workflows, and other systems.

Document capture eliminates slow and error-prone manual data entry. And it makes documents full searchable and usable in digital processes.

How Modern Document Capture Works

Today‘s solutions apply machine learning and cloud platforms for a streamlined process:

Document capture workflow diagram

  1. Import – Documents are scanned or imported from digital sources like email.
  2. Enhance – Image cleaning improves scan quality. Photos can be taken via mobile apps.
  3. Classify – AI predicts document types like invoices, ID cards, etc.
  4. Extract – OCR, handwriting recognition, AI, etc. identify and capture text and data.
  5. Validate – Business rules validate the captured data for any errors.
  6. Index – Intelligent indexing classifies docs using metadata like dates, customer IDs etc.
  7. Export – Validated data is exported to target databases and systems.
  8. Archive – Digitized documents are archived or routed via workflows.

Advanced systems continuously improve accuracy through machine learning. They also simplify set up with easy training rather than rigid templates.

Let‘s explore some of the top ways organizations use document capture to eliminate paper-based processes.

Key Business Uses of Document Capture

Many critical workflows still rely on tedious manual document processing. Document capture provides a digital onramp.

Accounts Payable

Processing invoices, purchase orders, and other payables is a leading use case. AP pros like Julie Baxter of Tonga Industries says:

"Document capture has been transformative for our A/P process. Automated data extraction cut invoice processing time by over 50% while reducing errors."

By automating data entry, organizations can cut AP invoice costs by 60-80% according to AIIM.

Claims Processing

Insurers need to intake claims documents like medical records and accident photos to link with digital claim files.

Allstate reduced claims cycle times 23% using document capture according to Gartner. This improves customer satisfaction and retention.

Human Resources

HR teams must ingest and index high volumes of employee documents like:

  • Employment applications
  • Payroll forms
  • Performance reviews
  • Training certificates

This provides a full digital employee record.

Legal and Compliance

Law firms must digitize huge volumes of case files, legal contracts, and other documents.

Compliance teams need to monitor and audit records for governance purposes. Document capture is critical for e-discovery and retention.

Industry-Specific Processes

Nearly every industry has document-intensive processes that can be optimized with capture, including:

  • Healthcare: Medical records, prescriptions
  • Finance: Loan/mortgage applications, statements
  • Government: Records requests, building permits
  • Education: Transcripts, enrollment forms

Let‘s look at the major benefits document capture delivers.

The Benefits of Document Capture

Digitizing documents pays dividends across any organization:

Dramatically Improved Efficiency

Automating manual document data entry speeds up critical processes. Productivity gains of 50-70% are common according to AIIM.

Staff can focus on higher-value tasks instead of monotonous data entry. And digitized information is accessible instantly vs. locked away on paper.

Major Cost Savings

Between reduced labor, paper, storage, and postage costs, organizations save an average of $20 per document according to ABI Research. This adds up to major OpEx reductions.

Enhanced Data Quality

Human error in transcription leads to mistakes. Document capture has high accuracy right out of the box.

And the digital data can integrate seamlessly into databases and applications vs. paper.

Better Compliance & Audit Trails

Searching digital files is far easier than locating physical documents. Captured data offers detailed audit trails showing who processed what when.

Superior Customer Experiences

Shorter processing times for documents like claims forms improves customer satisfaction. Digital experiences like mobile claims submission reduce hassle.

More Insights from Data

Unlocking documents‘ data fuels analytics on process metrics, customer patterns, operational benchmarks, and more.

Let‘s look at some of the key innovations in capture technology powering these benefits.

Document Capture Technology and Trends

Document capture has evolved enormously thanks to four key innovations:

1. Machine Learning – With deep learning, document capture is now flexible and accurate vs. rigid rules-based systems. ML models grow smarter over time.

2. Cloud Platforms – Document capture delivered as an online service improves accessibility, eliminates hardware dependencies, and enables usage-based pricing.

3. Mobile Capture – Native phone apps allow snapping pics of documents on the go to feed into workflows.

4. Robotic Process Automation – RPA bots integrate with capture tools for true straight-through processing.

Additional trends include expanded language support beyond English and better integration into business applications like ERPs.

Vendors are focused on further improving ease of use to maximize employee adoption. As Marie Wood of Delta Insurance explains:

"Our claims staff love the new capture tools. The system learns as you go without a lot of training."

Let‘s look at top solutions to consider.

Evaluating Leading Document Capture Platforms

Many types of vendors offer capture capabilities:

ProviderOverview
Dedicated Capture VendorsKofax, ABBYY, ReadSoft – Full-featured with advanced capabilities but can be complex
ERP VendorsSAP, Oracle – Basic capture built into broader platforms
Cloud VendorsMicrosoft, Box, Dropbox – Cloud-first capture focused on ease of use

Choosing the right platform depends on your use case complexity, integrations needed, and budget.

Key evaluation criteria include:

  • Accuracy – The underlying AI engine should provide high data accuracy out-of-the-box with minimal tuning needed.
  • Integration – What content repositories, databases, apps can easily integrate? APIs and connectors should be robust.
  • Scaling – Will the platform easily scale up to higher document volumes as needed?
  • Simplicity – Is the interface clean and intuitive enough for wide employee adoption? Is training minimal?
  • Vendor strength – Does the vendor offer global support capabilities and a long-term product roadmap?

Take advantage of free trials to test drive solutions with real documents.

The Future of Document Capture

While adoption has steadily grown over the past decade, significant potential remains to further digitize document-driven business processes.

AI and machine learning will continue advancing to make document capture even smarter and more automated. According to IDC:

"By 2025, 75% of enterprises will be leveraging intelligent document processing to automate data extraction as part of digital transformation efforts."

We will also see capture capabilities integrate further into leading business platforms. Document capture will evolve from a standalone tool into a core capability within workflow, data management, analytics and other critical software.

Start Unlocking Your Document Data

As business goes digital, document capture provides the critical onramp for digitizing paper-driven processes.

If your organization still relies heavily on manual document handling, now is the ideal time to pilot document capture capabilities.

The technology has reached maturity making it accessible for most organizations. And the benefits are proven – from major cost savings to faster processes to better data insights.

Contact us today for a free assessment of your document capture needs:

Start Your Free Assessment

Our team of experts can guide you on use cases, selecting technology, building business cases, and managing change. You‘ll receive a custom report detailing how to unlock value from document capture.

Let us know if you have any other questions! We‘re always happy to chat more about how document capture can accelerate your organization‘s digital transformation.

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