EVERYONE knows what it's like to need information quickly - data from an invoice or the latest addition to a contract - but not to know exactly where the information is in the company. How to find it as quickly as possible?
Many companies traditionally work with heaps of paper documents, including financial institutions, large industrial companies, and state bodies. These institutions often already have systems and internal processes in place that administer the flow of information from paper documents to fixed information databases.
However, these solutions are often unsatisfactory: the data may be missing or faulty, while processing it can take too long, or the data usage system may be improperly set and its results unsatisfactory. As a result, you may in the end be forced to physically go to an archive and look for the needed document, with all the waste of time that this involves.
This is frustrating for both employees and the company that pays for the software that was supposed to minimize the need for physical archive searches.
Outsourcing is the solution
Document digitalisation and data mining are only some of the support processes needed for a firm to be successful; unfortunately, they are often at the bottom of the list of company priorities.
At the same time, these operations involve very complicated processes and require special IT know-how, document administration, personal data protection, process management and personnel management. This fact makes them ideal candidates for BPO - business process outsourcing.
An outsourcer has the required knowledge, technical equipment and personnel to do the job right. For firms that use document processing as only a support activity, buying such equipment is both difficult and prohibitively expensive.
Data digitalisation software and equipment very often require an investment of several million crowns, not to mention specialised project management and training for users, without which the whole project is threatened.
An outsourcer is able to use its resources on several parallel projects and thus is able to offer its customers an advantageous price compared to the costs of finding an internal solution.
Protection against information leaks
When large volumes of data open to a certain number of users are collected, there is always a significant risk of data leaks. The damage caused by data leaks is incalculable, including the risk of the data's being sold to the competition, and the loss of public trust. Additionally, fines for the loss of personal data can reach Sk10 million (€260,000).
Business process outsourcing moves the entire responsibility to an outsourcer. The customer is insured against risk and potential accidents by contracts and agreed payments for any damages caused by an outsourcer.
Customers often ask how an outsourcer can ensure 100 percent data security. The answer is that 100 percent security is not possible even when the solution is internal. However, outsourcers often posses high quality security systems such as controlled access, monitoring equipment, firewall systems and safe deposit boxes.
If the documents are highly confidential and cannot leave the customer's premises, you can ask an outsourcer for special and original solutions. An outsourcer can, for example, provide a mobile digitalisation office - a truck equipped with scanning facilities - to be stationed right in front of the customer's building. The customer can supervise the whole process.
What can be digitalized
Apart from common documents such as invoices and contracts, specific documents can also be stored in digital form.
For example, one airline company has its air coupons digitalised. This involved a complex digitalisation process involving millions of coupons. It required the coordination of many activities, from registering the documents from customers, scanning the coupons, data mining, checking the data, adding missing data, data processing and analysis, statistical processing of data, and so on.
The airline data digitalisation system also enabled the data life cycle to be managed. This means that physical and digital documents are at certain stages prepared for online disposal, backup and, in the end, cancellation.
Thanks to the new system, the airline saved on operational and investment costs. At the same time it was able to prepare important flight data earlier and better than before, which is a great help to the airline management in making operational decisions.
Document digitalization can also help if a company has a large archive of "historical" documents - bad quality documents that may also be out of order and very rarely used.
One-time outsourcing can be a solution during which an agreed number of documents are digitalized. After such a one-time digitalization a customer gets a complete database of his documents, with the documents in a new order and the data stored in existing information databases. An outsourcer can also propose and carry out a solution for on-going document digitalization.
Ivana Mastenová is a sales manager with Siemens Business Services
13. Feb 2006 at 0:00 | Ivana Mastenová