Scanning to SharePoint

Many organisations are adopting SharePoint as their corporate document management system for Microsoft Office documents and other electronic files. However, much of the information held by organisations is on paper so it needs to be converted into digital format to allow it to be integrated into the same document repository.

Using a document scanner and associated software, companies can not only convert paper into image formats like TIF and JPG, but also extract valuable index information or business data from the document using OCR technology. Digital documents and associated metadata can then be stored in SharePoint in a variety of formats. The most popular of these formats is PDF which not only provides an accurate representation of the document but also allows all the OCR text in the document to be stored behind the PDF image. This format is known as PDF with hidden text or text-searchable PDF. This means that users can search for documents in SharePoint by using keywords in the metadata fields or by searching the content of PDF files in the SharePoint repository.

What are the advantages of scanning documents into SharePoint?

Information held on paper is just as valuable to organisations as the electronic documents that are generated internally. Often this information represents a large proportion of the day to day correspondence with suppliers and customers. Having the ability to manage and share this information internally through a document management system such as SharePoint can not only improve collaboration between departments and employees but also eliminates the risk of losing this information through natural disasters such as floods or fire.

Once converted to PDF format, information held on paper can be included as part of an electronic business process, using workflow software, and incorporated into customer record files along with other associated office documents and emails.

For business critical documents, such as purchase orders and supplier invoices, digitising documents can help speed up business transactions as well as reduce manual effort involved in keying data into business systems, such as CRM, ERP and Accounting.  After scanning and OCR, the document image (PDF) and metadata is stored in SharePoint and the invoice data is exported to an accounts payable system. Scanned invoices in SharePoint can also be routed to managers for payment approval via email or an electronic workflow.

Do you need scan or capture?

SharePoint does not include any document scanning capability so this functionality is provided by third party suppliers. Before deciding on a solution for SharePoint scanning you should consider whether you want to scan or capture documents.

If the volume of paper documents that needs to be transferred to your SharePoint system is low and you just want to convert them into digital format for archiving and occasional retrieval, then there are many basic scan and index systems available on the market. Many scanner manufacturers provide basic software that provides ad-hoc scanning and manual indexing of documents by users.

If, on the other hand, you have a large volume on documents to transfer into SharePoint, either on a daily basis or from a backlog archive, then a more sophisticated capture solution that offers automated indexing, via barcode or checkbox separator sheets, will be more appropriate. If the documents have a lot of data that needs to be captured, such as invoices and HR forms, then a capture solution that provides full-text and zone OCR capability will certainly be required.

Document capture software for SharePoint

There are many document capture software providers that claim to offer integration with SharePoint. However, it is worth investigating how this integration is done. Some providers offer a batch interface that simply drops images and index data into a directory and relies on a batch upload utility to transfer these documents into SharePoint. Others offer a direct integration with SharePoint which allows documents and metadata to be exported into specific folders within SharePoint. A few capture providers, such as Psigen, offer a very tightly integrated bi-directional interface with SharePoint. This can not only dynamically create libraries, folders, sub folders and content types within SharePoint using metadata captured from the document, but it can also do data lookups in SharePoint to pull back information for validation purposes or for index field creation. In addition, it allows a high degree of control over the naming of files transferred to SharePoint, based on metadata or system information.

http://scanningwithsharepoint.wordpress.com

http://scanningwithsharepoint.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/sharepoint-scanning-vs-capture-software

http://www.datafinity.co.uk/psi_capture.html

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About Datafinity
Datafinity delivers cost-effective, leading-edge, data capture and document management solutions for companies that need to improve the efficiency of business and document processes within their organisation.

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