Distributed Capture Allows In-Process Workflow Enablement

In traditional capture environments, organizations are submitting their documents, whether in fax or scanned form, in batches.The ability to submit ad-hoc documents using existing hardware like MFPs/MFDs or scanners is the current momentum in enterprises. Reaching beyond this takes forward, out of the ordinary thinking.

How would it be in an enterprise organization to actually place a single document into their local MFP/MFD and submit that work directly in to the workflow allowing the documents to be processed that same day? Inserting lab orders from physician’s offices directly to ancillary services? Placing a new account opening document directly in the workflow queue to get approval and an account number? Scanning bills of lading at the shipping and receiving dock and having them go straight to accounts payable and automatically matched with the P.O.?

We’ve seen many large financial services organizations start to leverage in-process distributed capture in an ad-hoc collection and capture form. Having a simple user interface, minimal clicks at the front panel of an MFP/MFD, as well as very little learning curve has been essential. What could your organization do if everyone could easily scan/import documents so they could get placed in the repository, data base, legacy system or workflow right away? How many millions of dollars would be saved? How many redundant workers would be allocated to jobs needing more workers?

Michelle Semple
Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

 

Best Practices for Distributed Capture

Over the years, many organizations have extended centralized capture with thick client distributed capture components.  More recently, some organizations have begun leveraging their MFPs/MFDs investment with technologies offering front panel integration. But this has lead to difficulty in managing all the various import possibilities, management of the changing hardware, and integration of disparate systems.

The varying systems have resulted in differing ways in which meta data is captured or even which fields are captured along with administrative management of many different systems.  As an example most large IBM FileNet customers are running not only multiple versions of Content Services, Image Services and Panagon P8, but they also have multiple DR, Test and QA platforms for supporting new application deployment, upgrades and functional enhancements.

Having one application, that can manage inputs from fax servers, email, scanners, MFPs/MFDs, and file shares, which allow for consistent document management practices and complete control for records management is quickly becoming a high level priority in large organizations.  With a centrally administered capture system, which can be pushed out to distributed users via a URL, allows for control for all content around the enterprise.  With some thin client applications, best practices can be applied to all documents versus select documents by including fax, MFD/MFP and email ingestion to the processing.

So, when considering how an enterprise can manage all aspects of their day-to-day content, requiring one application to manage everything is quickly becoming a top requirement in “best practices.”

Multi-Function Peripherals: “How do you support large scale deployments?”

Large organizations will deploy thousands of multi-function peripheral (MFP) devices throughout the enterprise. These devices may be from one manufacturer or several, depending on budget, purchasing processes and authority:

In large organizations purchasing copiers and MFPs can happen in stages.  If well coordinated, one manufacturer/model will be standardized on through a competitive bidding process.  This is not always the case and often several purchases can be made over a budgetary cycle and from different groups or departments.  This can lead to multiple manufacturers/models being supported in different departments by the IT organization.  Each manufacturer and model will have its own software, APIs and configuration procedures required to deploy the devices.  Training programs will have to be created to support the many models and features that users will want to use.

Over a 2 – 5 year period the devices could be replaced with newer models that come bundled with new software, APIs and configuration procedures.  This creates a real challenge for enterprises looking to deploy MFPs on a large scale.  How do we best take advantage of the new features and configuration options?  How does IT manage the content that is being generated by these devices?

Many times MFPs are purchased as part of a generic copier or printer replacement initiative.  Consequently there is no unified, consistent mechanism for integrating them into the enterprise content capture infrastructure. If done well it could enable the enterprise to use of the MFP devices, faxes, and existing desktop scanners with a consistent, common interface for the user and allow for integration into backend content repository architecture.

Most of these organizations have standardized on ECM software platforms that enable the capture, indexing, storage, retrieval and retention of content both electronic and physical.  Production and Desktop scanning capabilities are being used in a controlled way to support capture of both structured and unstructured content.  But few have managed to merge the MFP technologies and capabilities with the current ECM platforms.

MFPs are simply not considered a platform due to the technology changing or being updated by manufactures each year.  One approach is to do it at the operator panel, but when the current device is retired the new model will likely require a new setup or custom software development using the new manufacturer’s API to achieve the same operator control.  A more long term and standardized approach would be to integrate a software platform that can standardize the collection of content from any MFP anytime anywhere.  Take the customized panel, APIs and software add-ons from the manufacturer out of the equation and provide a documented configuration to the new manufacturer/model when new devices are purchased and rolled out.  Create a specification in the bidding or RFP process that states here is how we need you to configure your MFP’s functions to integrate with our Enterprise MFP Capture platform.