distributed documentsLong, long ago, our industry introduced a breathtaking new technology to the world: Scanning! Wow! Instant digitization! Customer companies could now turn thousands or millions of cumbersome paper documents into easy-to-store, easy-to-access, easy-to-route digital files.

For dealers, the money was going to pour in, right?

Wrong. Turns out that scanning is only part of what’s needed to make digital documents actually useful. Once scanned, digital documents also need to be individually tagged and indexed (and verified), or they won’t be easy to store, easy to access or easy to route. No wonder it’s been difficult to convince customers they should pay for scanning. It’s only a partial solution.

Where there’s a document problem …

So how are companies tagging and indexing and verifying all those digital files? Manpower, that’s how – hours and hours of valuable employee time spent manually keying in information so digital documents can be storable, accessible and routable. In most cases, these tedious-but-necessary tasks aren’t even what employees were hired to do. These are nurses who should be caring for patients! Paralegals who should be researching cases!

And yet, this is how nearly all companies across all industries, go about it. The fact is that digital documents are much, much more useful than paper documents, so much so that companies put up with all those tedious hours. Despite the lost productivity. Despite the unhappy employees. Despite the very real drag on overall company efficiency.

Here we are, decades since our industry introduced scanning into the world’s document workflow, and companies are still investing countless people-hours in order to make digital documents actually useful.

… There’s a document solution

Distributed document capture is a simple idea: a customer’s paper documents are scanned from their MFPs directly to an off-site service provider, where the digital documents are identified, tagged, indexed and routed back into the customer’s workflow. The process is “distributed” into two separate parts: the scanning, which is done by busy employees, and the identifying, tagging, indexing and routing, which is done by the outside provider that specializes in exactly those tasks.

Distributed document capture virtually eliminates tedious document management responsibilities for otherwise busy employees. They simply scan the documents, often in batches of 100, 200 or more. What may have taken over an hour can now take just minutes.

Better still, accuracy is improved. Centralizing the tasks of identifying, tagging and indexing documents means the entire process is far less vulnerable to error. Category-wide, distributed document capture accuracy is extremely high.

It all starts with the MFP

Distributed document capture is a scanning-based document solution. The front end of the process – the scanning and sending – takes place on your customers’ existing fleet of MFPs, the ones your dealership has installed. With distributed document capture, these MFPs are now an essential part of an essential process at your customer companies, one that is dramatically and tangibly improving the way their businesses are run.

How’s that for a competitive advantage when leases come up for renewal? A new, endless revenue stream is secured, and it flows right through the MFP dealer.

Document solution, Part 2: Capture-as-a-Service

Some customers may have an even bigger issue: they’re fully paper-based. There are still many companies and organizations that produce hundreds or thousands of paper documents every day, often storing them in endless rows of filing cabinets, or remote storage facilities with limited access. How can your dealership help these kinds of customers?

Capture-as-a-Service offers the same end benefits as distributed document capture, but a customer’s employees do not do the scanning themselves. Instead, paper documents are literally picked up – by truck – and transported to the off-site service provider, where they are scanned, identified, tagged, indexed and then routed back into the customer’s workflow. Pick-ups can be daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly depending on the specific needs of the customer.

As with distributed document capture, a new revenue stream is secured, flowing through the MFP dealer.

Opportunity: Accounts payable departments

Most companies receive thousands of invoices, each of them formatted differently. For accounts payable departments, the process of identifying, tagging and indexing their scans can be especially time-consuming, a frequent bottleneck in the payment process. AP backlogs create all kinds of issues: unhappy vendors, interest and late-payment penalties, and an unproductive work environment and the high turnover that may accompany it.

Accounts payable departments are often extremely receptive to distributed document capture. Executives will see a solution that is much less expensive than the usual remedy: hiring more people. The department staff will see a dramatic difference in the daily workflow, as backlogs of weeks are reduced to just days.

Opportunity: Healthcare organizations

Hospitals, medical practices, home health services and other healthcare organizations represent enormously profitable opportunities for distributed document capture, if you work with someone who has the proper expertise in complying with HIPAA regulations. As an industry, healthcare produces a never-ending stream of documents – test results, doctors’ and nurses’ notes, treatment schedules, insurance and billing, and many more – all of which need to be stored and routed. The burden of identifying, tagging, and indexing often falls on nurses and other highly trained front-line healthcare professionals, whose time is, of course, better spent on any number of patient-focused activities.

Distributed document capture typically reduces their responsibility to just minutes per shift. A wide range of documents can be scanned in batches to a single destination, where they are processed in full compliance with HIPAA. More importantly, patient information remains accurate, up-to-date and accessible, an important factor in improving patient outcomes.

Opportunity: Wherever you see paper documents

You’re an MFP dealer. Your customers print thousands or millions of paper documents, all of which need to be stored … and not in a filing cabinet. Documents need to managed digitally, and that means they not only need to be scanned, but also identified, tagged and indexed. If you see the following, you can bet that valuable hours are being spent keying in metadata:

• Insurance agencies with piles of claim forms

• HR departments inundated with benefits enrollment packages

• Legal offices with case files everywhere

• Mortgage brokers with stacks of loan documentation

• Colleges swamped with admission applications

• Wholesale importers manually filing their purchase orders

• Distribution companies without a way to track their shipping manifests

• Local governments with all kinds of contract proposals

• Manufacturing facilities that need to better manage their regulatory records

Most companies don’t know that there’s a better way — one that is more accurate and more cost-effective, that will improve employee productivity and morale, that will create additional revenue streams for your dealership and improve your competitive insulation at renewal time.

Your customers want distributed document capture. Now you just have to let them know about it.

Eric Richardson is Senior Director, Corporate Marketing Group, KYOCERA Document Solutions America. He has over 30 years customizing business solutions for customers. Charlie Bauer is a Senior Solutions Consultant with DataBank working out of the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast region and has been with the organization since 2004.