April 01, 2009, 4:42 PM — In virtually every industry, recessionary pressures are leading business executives to carefully re-examine every cost center across their organizations. Their aim? To find innovative ways to achieve new efficiencies and reduce expenses – without impacting customer service, products, and brands. One of the more popular strategies involves outsourcing to office services and managed print services companies. With outsourcing, companies can reduce overhead expenses, staffing headaches, and capital investments while improving the breadth and quality of the office services their employees can leverage.
An increasing number of large organizations today rely on specialists to assume responsibility for a broadening range of office services. These can include document production, copier/printer management, centralized duplication and on-demand printing, document conversion, file-room management, contract management, off-site storage coordination, courier/fleet management, shipping and receiving services, imaging and records management, inbound and outbound fax services, and more. Some providers even offer services to streamline employee on-boarding, time-card management, and expense reporting.
The common thread: these services all focus on documents. And as they outsource their office services functions, an increasing number of businesses are insisting that their outsourcing partner offer the technology that streamlines these processes through document capture and routing solutions. The combination of smart and efficient outsourced services and document capture and routing technology creates a compelling solution to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Why Document Capture and Routing Matters
What is document capture and routing? It’s a flexible and efficient way to capture, transform, and move paper and electronic documents among people, places, and formats. Starting with the familiar networked multi-function peripheral (MFP) – the new-breed copy machine that is a foundation of outsourced office services, document capture and routing solutions provide simultaneous distribution to multiple destinations in multiple formats.
The office services team can use these solutions to capture paper (such as inbound mail, contracts, faxes, invoices, and more) and electronic documents. They can convert those documents into a variety of formats (including text-searchable PDF, TIF, JPG, DOC, RTF, XLS, or TXT), and route them to various destinations, such as desktop PCs, faxes, e-mail, network folders, network printers, document repositories, document management systems (DMS), records management systems (RMS), and enterprise content management (ECM) systems. What’s more, document capture and routing solutions help the office services team deliver a higher level of document security and greater compliance with corporate record-retention requirements, government regulations, and industry mandates.
Why Document Capture and Routing Should Be Part of Your Office Services Outsourcing
When companies outsource, they benefit when their office services providers deliver full support for document capture and routing. Here’s what many companies enjoy today:
• Support for Diverse Document Workflows – Knowledge workers need to work with and share diverse documents - without the headaches and hassles from multiple formats. For example, you can convert a PDF document into a working text file that you can edit with a standard word processor before converting it back to a PDF. Or you can scan a paper document using optical character recognition (OCR) to eliminate re-keying.
• Smart Delivery and Tracking – With document routing solutions, there’s a complete audit trail to track every document with electronic time-stamped receipts. This is essential for companies in highly regulated industries.
• Records Management – While some documents are “in-process” materials, you also need to manage records – finalized documents. With document capture and routing, you scan in a physical record and instantly share the image electronically with any other authorized viewer, perform searches, convert it into a different working document, or work with it in other ways. This is a particularly important requirement for multi-office, distributed organizations.
• Optimize Value of Previous Investments – Since documents tend to be the lifeblood for many industries and organizations, it’s essential to harness the power and functionality of previous hardware and software investments such MFPs and enterprise content management systems.
• Privacy and Security – Document capture and routing lets users control shared devices (copiers, printers, scanners, and fax machines) from their desktop computers, helping to avoid accidental disclosure or mis-delivery of critical documents.
• Cost Recovery – Traditionally, paper-handling has been a significant cost-center. Integration with popular cost recovery systems can help you fully understand and recoup your costs by charging for scanning activities.
• A Smaller Environmental Footprint – By reducing the use of paper, ink/toner, file space, and waste, companies can improve their “green” posture. What’s more, a dramatic reduction in couriers and shipping can cut fossil fuel consumption as well.
• Improved Productivity – Ultimately, of course, document capture and routing frees the outsourcing team from mundane manual tasks and enables them to devote their time to higher level activities that contribute more value to their client’s bottom line.
• Disaster Recovery – No company can leave its document assets vulnerable to floods, fires, other natural disasters, or even terrorism or civil unrest. Document capture and routing can be an effective component of business continuity strategies by enabling your outsourced provider to create electronic copies of documents and records and store them off-site and off-line.
• Content Accessibility – A company, especially one with remote offices, needs complete and immediate access to the content contained within its business-critical documents in order to improve search capabilities, increase collaboration and teamwork, and share knowledge throughout the organization.
• Simplicity – Even office services experts need simple, intuitive user interfaces – not a near-endless sequence of buttons and screens displayed on a small device front panel. The right solution should be easy to learn and operate.
To derive the most from outsourcing investments and achieve greater value, enterprises should ensure their chosen partner can deliver its services based on a document capture and routing foundation. The result is an even higher level of speed and efficiency while reducing costs, time, and waste.