What is ICR, Survey & Forms Processing?
ICR stands for Intelligent Character Recognition and is the technology that allows software to interpret hand printed text on scanned images.
Forms Processing Software uses ICR technology to automate data entry tasks involving hand-filled surveys, applications and forms. It provides interfaces for scanning, recognition, data verification and export, as well as management and monitoring tools to track large volumes of documents and data through the workflow.
Forms Processing also includes OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to recognize machine printed text, and OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) for check boxes and multiple choice bubbles.
It is also possible to use these applications to automate data collection from PDF forms, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and other formats used to fill out forms electronically. Many include the ability to publish forms as paper, fillable PDF and web pages simultaneously to distribute and collect data from multiple sources into one dataset.
Who can benefit from forms processing software?
Any organization that collects data on paper-based forms, surveys or applications on a regular basis can get a very high return on investment by automating the data entry with forms processing software.
You do need to have a significant number of forms to justify the expense– at least a hundred forms per month or more depending on how much data is being captured. If the data entry task can be done in under 100 man-hours then it is not a good candidate for automation with ICR software.
Organizations that have many separate departments that collect data on forms can share the budget for forms processing software by re-using it for other projects. Your current project may not be big enough to justify the expense, but when combined with one or two others it would be.
How much do Survey & Forms Processing systems cost?
The total cost of a forms processing solution includes several items:
- Cost of the software
- Time to install and configure the software
- Forms may need to be redesigned for optimal recognition
- Recognition templates must be created for each data field on every type of form
- Data exports must be defined and integrated with back-end systems
- User and administrator training
- Labor required to verify the recognition results
- IT infrastructure and maintenance costs
If you have an IT staff that is familiar with document scanning and OCR applications, it is possible to do most of the configuration and maintenance in-house. If not then it is highly recommended that you use our Consulting Services to guide you through the setup process.
Contact Us to get a professional analysis of your project requirements and a full time and cost estimate.
What is the typical data entry workflow?
The process of converting a hand-printed paper form to live data you can use is as follows:
- Paper is prepped for scanning (unfolded, staples removed, etc.)
- Forms are scanned on a high-speed document scanner
- Scanned forms are recognized with ICR
- Recognized characters are assigned a confidence value and validation rules are applied to check for valid results
- “Low-confidence” characters and fields that fail validation are presented to the verification operators for manual review and correction
- Once all errors are corrected, data is exported to final destination
How do I find out more?
Forms processing projects can require lots of specialized technical knowledge to achieve success. From OCR form design best practices to database integration, APIs and robotic process automation, our experts can guide you through any part of any project no matter the size or complexity. Contact us for a free consultation!