The Digital Transformation - from Paper to File

Proven remedy against file towers on the desk: Scanners! Today, however, they can do much more than just digitize paper documents - especially when windream is in play. In the course of technical development, scanners have proven to be the ideal hardware component for efficiently digitizing large document bulks.

Digitising, indexing and archiving documents in one work step

Scanning is experiencing a tremendous boom in the age of digitisation. After all, scanners are the tool of choice when it comes to converting paper documents of any shape or form into a digital format. Everything is possible, from scanning solutions for the home office to high-end solutions for companies, with which thousands of documents can be digitized in batches. 

But how does efficient scanning work? And - apart from the actual process of digitizing - what are the benefits of downstream processes such as indexing, automatic filing in the document management system (DMS) and archiving of the scanned documents? 

Scan and edit documents

From digital document to document management

Typically, a lot of paper still finds its way into a company, for example 

  • business letters,
  • incoming mail, 
  • delivery bills, 
  • invoices,
  • folders
  • or other paper documents that need to be digitized after receipt.

In modern enterprise content management (ECM) or document management systems (DMS), suitable scanning software is always used to initiate downstream processes by transferring scanned documents to other applications. Often, the scanning software is a component of the DMS, or it can be purchased as a separate scanning module that cooperates seamlessly with the DMS.

Index documents

Software tools automate digitizing

Digitizing software tools can do a lot these days. Not only do they serve to actually scan paper documents, but they also start downstream processes. What does this mean?

After digitization, a document goes through several work steps that are almost impossible to manage manually in companies with a large volume of documents. For example, the software tools are able to automatically read index data - the so-called metadata - from a digitized document. As a user, you then use this data later to retrieve and research documents. Nowadays, automatic indexing is an almost indispensable tool for the systematic storage of documents in a document management system.  

File and archive documents automatically

Automated processes after scanning

You can also automatically store documents in specific digital folders of a DMS based on the index data, for example, and archive them there legally compliant. A good DMS with connected scanning software recognizes what type of document it is after scanning and reading out the metadata. The software then stores the document as an electronic file - typically a PDF or image file such as JPG, BMP or TIFF - in the defined folder of the DMS.
This process can also be rule-based, so that the transformation from the paper document to the digital format and the subsequent processes up to final archiving are based on defined rules and are thus largely automated. 

Digitize documents - windream GmbH

Digitize and manage paper documents

Especially in combination with windream, scanning solutions are the ideal tool for capturing and transferring paper documents into a digital format. Scanners have not only become more and more powerful, but also offer a very high ease of use in combination with suitable software solutions and even allow to automate the entire capturing, indexing and archiving process in the ECM-system.

More about managing documents

Further processing of digital documents via workflow

Between the capture or digitisation of a document and its final archiving, after which the document can no longer be processed, there are often additional process steps that the document must go through. These include the automated transfer of the document to a workflow system. Examples include incoming mail or the invoice workflow.

A business process management system (BPMS) integrated into the process flow ensures that incoming digital documents are automatically forwarded to the departments and persons involved in the company for processing. The serious advantages compared to manual processing are obvious: significantly faster throughput times and thus significantly higher productivity. After further processing is completed, the document is automatically or manually moved to the archive and permanently stored there.

Learn more about workflow management

Advantages of digitising documents

  • Capture, index and archive in a single step
  • Automated index extraction and automatic document filing
  • Specialised software connection to different scanners
  • Access to digital documents from anywhere and at any time
  • Greater transparency with details of e.g. archive folder, editor, document content and life cycle
  • Protection against data loss through audit-proof archiving
  • Rights concepts regulate who may read or edit digital documents.
  • Enormous space savings, because paper is no longer used.

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Optical character recognition (OCR) eases subsequent document searches

Full text

Another important aspect of digital transformation through scanning is that a DMS uses optical character recognition (OCR) to read the contents of a document and store them as so-called "full text" parallel to the digitised document in the database.

This method has the advantage that documents can then be searched for by entering a simple search term. This is because the system then searches for the entered term in the full-text database. The results list then lists all hits or documents found that contain the search term entered. This procedure is a very uncomplicated way of searching for documents and is mainly (but by no means only) used when paper documents have been converted by scanner into image files such as bitmaps or TIFF files. This also makes image files readable, provided they contain an extractable font.

Digitizing documents in batches

In companies that have a relatively high volume of paper documents, specialized high-end tools also make it possible to digitize entire stacks of paper documents - so-called batches - in one go. In this context, there are various ways of separating the individual documents from one another so that the system knows at which point a new document begins or ends. Marking can be done using barcodes, for example, or the separation can be done simply by inserting a blank page.

Focus on compliance: archiving in compliance with the law.

Modern software systems are capable of recording every single process step without gaps, so that the process can still be traced at a later date. This is enormously important, for example, in terms of successful quality management.
But software systems such as DMS, ECM, BPM and digital archives also provide valuable services with regard to legal requirements such as those formulated in the GoBD or the EU-DSGVO.

In this context, the main focus is on the auditability of documents. Revision-proof means that the documents are protected against manipulation and are unchangeable after they have been digitized. You can use lifecycle rules to define how long a document may be processed, when it should be transferred to the archive and when it may or must be destroyed (e.g. in accordance with the DSGVO). Documents such as incoming invoices, which "per se'" may no longer be changed, are transferred directly to the archive without a processing period and permanently saved there. 
In any case, it is ensured that the legally required retention obligations are fulfilled. 
Learn more about compliance

Digitize documents via app

Location-independent digitization "on the go

Digitizing documents is also possible on mobile devices. This does not necessarily mean that documents are photographed with the camera of a smartphone and then uploaded to the DMS. Of course, this is also possible - after all, taking a picture is also a kind of scanning. But with the windream Dynamic Workspace, a multitude of further options opens up to you.

You do not only have photographed objects on your end device, but the whole "DMS-office" at once, including all functions you need for an efficient document management. With the app, you are completely independent of space and time, as you always have your DMS with all other Dynamic Workspace applications and documents at your disposal.
 windream Dynamic Workspace

Typical use cases for document digitization

Incoming Mail: Incoming mail is scanned by employees. The documents are digitized and forwarded to the relevant departments via workflow, with the software recognizing the essential characteristics of the document based on the extracted metadata. 

Invoice workflow: Certain document types, for example incoming invoices, are immediately archived by definition so that they are unchangeable (audit-proof) and then forwarded to the responsible department via workflow. There, they are checked and released (or even rejected via a backward step). All these steps take place electronically via workflow. 

Digital files with scanned documents: Just as you automatically assign scanned documents to a specific folder, you can also transfer digitized documents directly to a digital file. This is a 1:1 mapping of a real file cabinet, only on the digital level. This means no more searching for paper documents in the file cabinet, much faster access times to digital files and to the content they contain.

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