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Hot Profits in Automated Capture & Workflow

29 Mar, 2007 By: Darrell Amy imageSource

Hot Profits in Automated Capture & Workflow

Do you want to make outrageous profits selling solutions? The best way to do
this is to offer solutions that automate your clients’ business processes.
Automated Capture and Workflow solutions can make this happen. This genre of
technology creates tremendous sellable benefits and yields profitable results.

Capture software reads information from scanned documents and uses this
information to automatically index documents in a document management system,
then publishes this information to a database. This software typically involves
the following technologies: Zone OCR (Optical Character Recognition), Barcode
Recognition, and Database Integration.

Workflow software takes this to the next level by streamlining the flow of
information through a business process. It includes packages that automatically
capture data off of scanned documents and then routes them through based on
predetermined rules. When you can help clients improve these processes by
automating them,you can create high-value transactions with short sales cycles.

The benefits of automated capture and workflow software are obvious. An
automated business process reduces manual labor costs, allowing growth without
additional staffing. Automating processes also reduces processing time by
pushing information through a predefined process. Let’s examine some of the
solutions succeeding in the market:

Workflow Automation: iDatix Progression

iDatix is the developer of document management applications including
iSynergy.  Their latest development is a workflow product called Progression.

Robert Atherton, Vice President of Business Development at iDatix is
enthusiastic about the potential workflow technology. "We are seeing a
tremendous amount of interest and desire for rules-based workflow at very high
levels in organizations. Existing rules-based workflow products are extremely
complex and very difficult to configure and implement successfully."

Progression allows users to define processes that contain tasks. Each task
contains defined actions for the user including instructions for completing a
task. Tasks are ordered and dependent on the completion of other tasks, and once
is completed the document moves to the next step in the process.

This system was designed to enable fast installation and configuration—in
most cases requiring one fourth or one third the amount of time than the
traditional rules-based workflow products on the market today. Process Designer
allows administrators to map out processes within Progression. This is similar
to mapping a process on a white board. It can be applied to streamline virtually
any sequential business process. Sales reps can talk with the client about
their  processes, and from there, processes  are mapped and optimized in

On average, workflow-based sales appear to have three to four times the
revenue and profit of traditional document management deals with a substantial
increase in professional services.  Because of the consulting and business
process analysis needs for these type of deals, the professional services
portion is often equal to or more than the software costs.  For dealers who
provide professional services, this translates into huge profit margins!

Digital Signature:  DocuWare Content Folder

DocuWare brings over 18 years of experience in Integrated Document
Management.  Over the past few years, workflow has played an expanding role in
the type of solutions the company brings to market.

Greg Schloemer, President of DocuWare, recently reflected on how workflow
applications are revolutionizing their business. "What we are seeing in the
workflow arena is pretty interesting. Within the SMB market there is clearly a
growth in workflow."

In 2006, 16 percent of DocuWare’s new installations included workflow. In
addition, another 18 percent of customers that started with a document
management system have upgraded to include workflow technology.

DocuWare calls their workflow module Content Folder. When a user opens the
folder they see all of the documents that need their approval. The user can then
select a virtual rubber stamp to apply to the document, such as "Approved" or
"Denied."  Once the stamp is applied to the document as an overlay on the image,
Content Folder routes the document to the appropriate next step in the process.

A big driver of DocuWare’s success has been their Digital Signature feature.
Instead of the virtual rubber stamp, this allows users to apply their signature
to documents after entering a password. The digital signature is a verifiable
signature. This means that the signature can be traced back to the authority
that issued the signature to determine if the document was signed while the
digital signature was valid.

Schloemer sees digital signatures as a critical component in securing
workflows and compliance. "DocuWare embedded technology provides that the
electronic signature methodology is simple to use but at the same time,
technically secure to guarantee the authenticity of the document and signatory. 
The user has to know ‘I’m signing this document,’ but needs no knowledge of
algorithms or technical details."

Fishers Document Systems, a dealership in Boise, recently implemented
DocuWare’s Content Folder to streamline their own purchase order approval
process. "Purchase orders used to take days to get approved," recalls Corey
Smith, Fisher’s Chief Innovation Officer.

Now purchase orders are scanned into a pre-determined workflow. DocuWare’s
AutoIndex feature reads pertinent information from 15 different zones on the
document.  Purchase Orders are routed based on the value of the purchase orders.
Here, if the purchase order is less than $25,000, it is routed to one
department, while larger orders are routed for executive approval.

"DocuWare’s Digital Signature tool allows us to mark the purchase request as
approved or denied," says Smith.  Approved orders are digitally signed before
they move to the next step in the process. Denied orders trigger a pop-up window
requesting comments on why the request was denied before it’s routed back to the
initial requestor.

"Once we implemented this in our dealership we immediately saw how this could
help our clients,” Smith said.

Web-Based Capture:  SentryFile AutoCapture

SentryFile is a web-based electronic document management system. This means
the entire user interface is through a common web browser like Internet
Explorer. This makes installation and training very easy.

Recently, the company was enhanced with one of the industry’s first web-based
capture tools. The new AutoCapture module comes standard with SentryFile’s
Corporate and Enterprise Editions. Zone OCR and Barcode Recognition read index
fields from scanned documents and files them.

The system can also pull in additional information from a database.  For
example, the system could be instructed to read an invoice number using Zone OCR
from a scanned invoice. The system would then query the customer’s CRM database
to pull back the customer name and number to be used as index fields.
AutoCapture integrates transparently with customer workflows.  It's like a
silent friend who does all your filing chores," says Chris Sinkinson, Systems
Developer at CutCom Software.

"Our customers have told us that the marriage of professional document
capture with the convenience of a web application has transformed their

Unlike most capture applications that require a software interface
application, AutoCapture is configured and administered through a simple web
interface. Documents are simply scanned on a multifunction system and routed to
a network folder.  SentryFile then takes these documents and automatically
indexes them. One of the first users of the capture technology was a large
insurance firm in New England who leveraged its technology to process a variety
of signed insurance application forms that are scanned using MFPs as input
devices. This proficient technology can save most users hundreds of staff hours
per month by automating the document filing process.  Furthermore, documents are
made immediately available to remote locations delivering a huge productivity

Image Clean Up and Automatic Indexing: ImageEze e-enhance

Not to be outdone, one northeastern dealer has actually developed their own
document management and capture applications: Fraser Advanced Information
Systems,an independent dealership in West Reading, PA. Several years ago the
company acquired an Information Technology business to provide network services.
Based on requests from potential customers this group began to develop
applications to help manage and capture scanned documents.

The result of these efforts was ImagEze, a suite of image enhancement and
capture applications that are geared to integrate seamlessly with multifunction

The first application, e-enhance, provides an important function of cleaning
up scanned images to be processed through an OCR engine.  The e-enhance
application automatically de-skews, de-speckles and removes the background of
scanned images, which are compressed to smaller file sizes and routed to
specific network folders. "Many clients’ images were skewed in the scanner and
came from colored forms printed on dot matrix printers," explains Dave Materia,
a Fraser software architect.  "It was hard for OCR engines to accurately read
the data off of the image." Plus, the dark backgrounds led to larger file sizes
hogging unnecessary disk space.

The next application, e-index, picks up where e-enhance leaves off. The clean
scan images are then run through a capture engine that uses Zone OCR and Barcode
Recognition to automatically file the documents in e-archive. This web-based
search and retrieve utility allows clients to find scanned documents.

Each of these applications is tightly integrated with the multifunction
system. Currently, the development team is finishing a utility that will tightly
integrate e-enhance with the Open Systems Architecture (OSA) on new Sharp
multifunction Systems. A majority of new MFP’s shipped from Fraser-AIS now
include e-enhance. "We see this as a gateway to selling additional document
solutions," says Bill Fraser, President of Fraser-AIS. "I tell my clients that
the e-enhance button on the copier is the Money Button because it’s the gateway
to help integrate their paper documents into digital business processes."

How Do I Get Started?

The best place to begin is by asking clients the key questions about their
business processes. Once you understand the client’s business processes you can
then contact your software partners to ask how the process could be improved.
Improving business processes is more of an art than a science. This is a skill
set that you will develop with time and experience.

If you want to enjoy the generous profit margins of consulting services,
workflow software is a great platform to build a professional services practice
on. The analysis, design and implementation of these solutions will require
considerable involvement by your Solution Specialists and Implementation teams.
The good news is, it is chargeable.

A great place to first start is inside your own dealership. Take a cue from
Fishers Document Systems, and look for places to apply this technology in your
own operation.  This will give your sales people confidence and specific
examples to talk about with potential clients.

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