Electronic data capture software to read key information from scanned documents and automate business process that require data entry.

Robotic Process Automation

Introducing Robotic Process Automation

RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation and it represents a new approach to business automation that helps minimize the technical hurdles required for implementing new workflows.

Robotic Process Automation of Data Entry

Traditional business process automations rely on application programming interfaces (APIs) to allow systems to exchange data. This approach has two main drawbacks:

  1. The application vendor must make those APIs available
  2. A programmer needs to write custom code to interface with them

If your software vendor does not provide an interface for consuming the data you need to automate, then you’re out of luck. And even if they do, the development costs can eliminate the ROI if the transaction volume isn’t large enough.

RPA tools avoid the API problem by interfacing directly with the application user interface just like a human would do. They use artificial intelligence and machine learning to “watch” the operator perform a task within the application then creates its own program (called a “bot”) to mimic it. This means that:

  1. Bots can do anything a human can do within the application
  2. Users can create a bot without writing code

Practically speaking, an experienced robotic process automation consultant with programming experience is required to roll out an RPA solution enterprise-wide, and most users will only be able to automate small, routine tasks without assistance. Business-critical, high-volume automations will still involve coding. But RPA dramatically reduces the implementation time and avoids the need to retrofit APIs for software applications that were not designed to support them.

Using RPA with OCR Data Capture

UiPath Robotic Process Automation RPA OCROCR Data Capture is one of the most common business processes to automate with RPA. Taking data stored in paper or electronic documents and […]

OCR Data Capture

What is OCR Data Capture?

document OCR process automationOCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and is the technology that allows software to interpret text on scanned images. When this technology is applied to automating business data entry processes it’s referred to as OCR Data Capture.

Many are familiar with popular desktop OCR applications designed to convert scanned images to editable documents. When this process is applied to specific areas of the document containing data fields it’s called zone OCR. But OCR data capture software is more than just simple zone OCR. Modern applications use some or all of these technologies:

Enterprise data capture systems provide 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.

Who can benefit from OCR data capture software?

messy business information made easy with ocr data captureAny organization that collects data from paper documents, or electronic files like PDF and Office documents, can get a very high return on investment by automating the data entry with OCR data capture software.

You do need to have a significant number of documents to […]

Using OCR to capture data from tables and reports

Data that repeats over and over again in a document can be OCR’d to Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets and other spreadsheet formats, or a SQL Database like Access, SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle.

Inexpensive Desktop OCR products like FineReader, ReadIRIS and OmniPage can automatically convert data from tables to Excel and other spreadsheets, as long as the columns are standard and don’t “overlap” such that different field values appear in the same column area, like when one row of each record represents one set of columns and a second row has additional column data.

Converted data will require some clean-up before it is usable in any database or software application, and it is difficult to convert large numbers of documents in batches this way. But it’s a good way to produce structured data from large single reports or small batches of similar report data.

For more complex tables, tables with similar data but different formats on different documents (like Invoices), tables with nested structure like header and detail rows, Enterprise Forms Processing software is required to turn these documents into structured data like XML, JSON or SQL database tables.

How to use Zone OCR when the data can be in different locations?

Modern Forms Processing software can use rules-based templates for locating data on documents based on label keywords, data types, regular expression pattern matching and other methods.

The most common example in business is an Invoice. Businesses receive invoices from 1000s of different vendors, each with important information like the Invoice Number, Due Date and Total needed to process the document, but each vendor invoice is formatted a little differently than the others.

Software like ABBYY FlexiCapture will look for keywords like “Invoice Number” or variations like “Inv #” and “Invoice No.” to locate the invoice number value on each invoice.

These applications are also able to capture complex table data and output to formats like Excel or a SQL Database, especially when it doesn’t line up into regular columns.

In recent years, artificial intelligence based training has made it possible to simply point and click on the location of data on documents as you process them and generate these templates automatically, dramatically reducing the need for ongoing expert help these systems require.

Forms Processing

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.

Data Capture Forms OCRForms 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.

Who can benefit from handprint recognition 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 […]

Applications

When you scan a document that has text or numeric data on it, you are able to read and understand what is written in the scanned image. However, to a computer, the resulting image file is just as meaningless an assortment of pixels as a landscape photo. In order to transform this information into an editable format that you can search through, copy, and modify without retyping it manually, you will need the an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.

There is a wide variety of OCR software available. While they all share the ability to convert images of machine printed (not handwritten) text or numbers into an editable format, the various software often have different features, accuracy, prices, and language options.

You can find the various types of OCR software with a description of each below.

Users within a single department, working from home or who have a small business can simply scan their documents to a folder that is shared to everyone. In this “ad-hoc” scenario you only need some basic document scanning software to simplify and bring consistency to your filing system.

If you want to move to the next level, there are Desktop Document Management options that provide an all-in-one means for capture, storage, search and retrieval of documents. Additionally, they provide security, advanced capabilities and ease of use above that of the ad-hoc methods

And let’s not forget cloud-based options that alleviate the need to maintain storage servers or keep software up to date.

Need a simple, no frills OCR solution without spending hundreds of dollars on a professional software package? Look no further. There is a no cost, donation optional, OCR freeware solution for […]

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