How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 2 of 3 

How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 2 of 3 

In the first part of this series, I raised the issues of the importance and complexity of meeting the NARA 2019/2022 deadlines. It’s not something you can rush through and companies will need to have a plan before they jump into action.

NARA Logo created 2010

Now I would like to go over the following in part 2 of this 3 part blog:

  • Making a plan for scanned content to comply with the 2019 and 2022 mandates.
  • Further evaluation of your content to help you correctly configure things.
  • Why it is important to map out what you have and how to link it to your retention schedule.
  • Examples on configuration and implementation of electronic solutions for your 2019 and 2022 ingested content.
  • Setting up and configuring a content Library.
  • Seamless mapping to your retention schedule.
  • How using an ingestion tool like Ephesoft can speed up your progress.

Before we start with Part 2 if you haven’t read through the first part, here’s a link How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 1 of 3.

Once you’ve finished evaluating your content, the next stage is making a plan for the scanned-in content.

Making a Plan for Your Scanned-in Content

Let’s start with a basic plan. In order to make that plan ask yourself:

  1. How will this content be ingested, scanned in? Will we have a tool like Ephesoft to help with data extraction?
  2. What do we have to scan in, what are its document types/categories?
  3. Where will it go in the system? What libraries do I need to set up for this content?
  4. What folder structure needs to be in each library so that I can scan the documents into the proper folder? This may be crucial – you may not want to dump everything into the “HR” library. Perhaps you would rather scan all the “Application Records”, ensuring they go into the “Applications” folder in the HR Library – that way it is much easier to map them to the Records Retention Schedule and File Plan.
  5. What are the crucial metadata for each type of document, or category of documents, being scanned in? Can we add high level ‘bulk’ metadata to everything that goes into a certain library? Does metadata need to be manually added to folders/records, individually, after they are ingested into the target library and folders? What are they? What folders/libraries do they all apply to? Some metadata may need to be added to every library and some may only apply to a folder in a library. Sort out your data model and what metadata is needed at what level and on what objects (document, folder, library?)
  6. Will all of this content be an official record as soon as it hits the library? Or will some of it still be in some kind of draft mode? If everything is already an official record, and no more edits are needed, then it is better to ingest everything after your plans and rules are set up in the system. If you have everything mapped out, then all you need to do is add the content to the right folders in the library and the system adds the needed metadata and links it to the proper category in the File Plan Retention Schedule because you set it up first before adding the content.
  7. Who will have access to each of these libraries? What type of access should they have? (Read, Write, Manage, etc.). Set up the permissions on the library and the subfolders ahead of time.

As you can see, there are plenty of little details to consider before you get to actually do any work, however,  this is a crucial phase. Spending some time to think through these details can help you save time in the long run.

Setting up a Library Structure

In Alfresco and most other ECMs, you can set up a library for your content. Within that library, you can section-off your content into sub-categories or groups. For example, you can have a library site just for HR records and folders for the different areas of HR (Applications, Employee Records, I-9 forms, etc.) You can scan in your content into the proper folders within that library.

You could also set up a library for a certain project or program and scan all the records for that project onto the library site in Alfresco.

If you are like me, you may want to put this into a visual chart. See image 1 for a high-level concept of a plan and library set up.

setting up library structure ECM automation

Image 1: Your high-level plan to get content into the system can be put into a simple diagram to help visualize your structure.

Of course, how your library will look depends on your data and your organization’s needs. You may have dozens of top-level categories with a handful of sub-categories. Or, it can be similar to the image, with a handful of top-level categories, and multiple sub-categories. It all depends on your specific needs.

Configuring Your Library to Help You Stay Compliant

This type of configuration can help you do several things:

  • It can help you organize things by a certain group, topic or category.
  • It can help you with permissions and user access – only give access to that library for users on a “need to know” basis.
  • It can help you classify and add security markings to content as needed.
  • It can help you add the proper metadata that is specific to that content type/topic/category only. Certain metadata that applies to HR may not apply to the Project Library and vice versa. You can add special metadata to a certain Library to be automatically added to that group of information or subfolders within the Library.
  • It can help you map your content from the library site directly to a spot in the File Plan (on the Records Management Site in Alfresco) so that as the content is being added to the folder structure in the group site library, it can also obtain its future Retention Schedule. So, if/when the document gets declared as an official agency record, it will automatically get mapped to that spot in the File Plan Retention Schedule, making it seamless for both the end-user and the Records Manager. See image 2.

Smarter System – Seamless Mapping to Your Retention Schedule

With the above set up, the system can be “told” the answers to the following questions:

  • What area of the agency is the content from? (example: HR site Library)
  • What are the major topics of the content? (example: ‘Applications’ folder in the HR Library)
  • What year is the content from? (example: 2012 – can be metadata or in a 2012 folder)

Example: Content is from Library: “HR”, the content was put into the folder “Applications”, the content was labeled as being a “2012 document” (upon ingestion with Ephesoft) or it was added to a 2012 folder. It was also marked as an official record ( upon ingestion or at a later point in time after ingestion). From this information above, can you properly give it retention (cutoff/disposition) date? Yes, in most cases. OK good, then you can now map it to the “2012 HR Applications” folder in your File Plan/Retention Schedule and from that point on the system does the rest under the Records Managers’ control.

content retention map for ECM migration NARA Deadline

Image 2: Content can be managed and mapped to a certain spot in the File Plan for retention controls.

When Ingesting, Use a Tool like Ephesoft:

Ingesting your content through Ephesoft is a very popular and less time-consuming way to do things. This tool will help you process the content in a batch, and add the needed metadata before it hits the target library.

If you use Ephesoft, you can improve your paper-to-electronic processing time by 80%, collecting metadata along the way before it hits the target electronic library.

This is vitally important because when you add content into a system, the system typically adds the timestamp of when it is ingested into the system, but it may not know the date of the document.

For instance, you may be scanning in documents from 2012. This is vital information to you and Records Management, but the content is going into the system today, in 2019! So, Ephesoft can help you to make sure your content is being properly labeled so that you can properly disposition it later.

When your content is labeled properly, e.g. “Document Date 2012,” now Records Management controls know not only the schedule it is under, but also the date from which to start the retention countdown. You can put this content in a 2012 folder, OR add “2012” metadata to the document, and the system takes it from there.

Wrapping Up

As the process of meeting the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines is quite complex, you’ll need to do a lot of planning and mapping out how your content will be organized. Spending time in the planning stage, using the key questions I’ve listed above, will save your organization countless hours in the future.

Having a well-organized database is key to efficiency and using a tool like Ephesoft for batch-processing will help you digitize your documents at a much faster pace.

To get a better understanding of the entire process, make sure you read through the other two parts of this series:

“How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 1 of 3”

“How to Meet the NARA 2019/2022 Deadlines – PART 3 of 3”

And, if you need some help with the planning process, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions. And don’t forget to share this post on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter.

Paperless or Paper-based: Should Organizations Consider Digitization

Paperless or Paper-based: Should Organizations Consider Digitization

organizations should embrace digitized enterprise content management

If you are reading this blog post you probably still have contradictory feelings about paper-based and paperless office.

Whether we are talking about startups or established vendors we’re all looking for every possible way to streamline operations, cut costs, and save precious time.

Moving away from paper-based content management to a fully digital workflow is one of the easiest ways to cut costs. Still, there are so many organizations that are fearful of making the switch to a fully digital enterprise.

If you’re in such a situation, it would be good to start thinking of some questions:

Are you afraid of the process of migration? Are you afraid that your employees would have difficulties in adapting to it? Or, are you still lying to yourself that you don’t need digitization and you are well of this way?

Whatever the reason is, let’s take a look at how your current way of managing documents could be harming, rather than helping your enterprise succeed.

The Weight Of Paper-based Enterprise Content Management

paper-based vs. paperless enterprise content management

I love the 80es. Such an optimistic era. In 1975, Businessweek predicted that by 1990 paper would be dead.

30 years later, we are producing more paper than ever before.

According to the estimations made by Gartner Inc. things aren’t so “80es cool”:

  • 3% of a company’s revenue is spent on managing paper, printing, filing, storing and maintaining files of information.
  • An average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year.
  • 50% of the waste of businesses is composed of paper.

Terrifying. Not that we didn’t reach the Businessweek’s predictions, we’re boldly going in the wrong direction.

Paper misuse in companies is not only an environmental tragedy, but it is also a monument to inefficiency.

Why? Because paper does not give enterprises the business intelligence and insight they need to succeed. Instead, paper is very often the cause of many harms.

Let me cover the most obvious ones.

1.   Data Loss

Imagine a fire breaks out in your organization’s archive room.

All data is gone.

Customers call.

They demand answers.

But your organization is incapable of providing the information they need.

And yes, it doesn’t always have to be this dramatic. But the truth is things like this can happen, and physical files are much more prone to destruction compared to electronic files.

As an enterprise, you don’t have the luxury of doing nothing, and hope for the best.

You must plan ahead.

You must prepare for the worse, so you can always offer the best.

The best way to protect your business documents it is to implement a document digitization and Enterprise Content Management System that will lower your dependency on paper-based documents and rely more on digital documents.

2.   Delays & Cost Escalations

According to the Paperless Project, an average worker spends around 40% of their time searching for information stored in emails and filing cabinets.

Also, the Paperless Project reports that a typical four-drawer cabinet keeps around 12,000 records and managing it costs $1,500 per year.

They also found that large organizations lose a document every 12 seconds, which can cost a company $350 to $700 a piece.

As you can see, paper archives are too time-consuming. They are too difficult to work with. Very expensive, and quite unreliable.

This is why paper archives very often cause delays and unwanted expenses. Digitalizing paper documents would make sure that the paper management cost goes down significantly. It would also ensure no document-loss happens ever again. And companies would keep expenses in check.

3.   Communication Gaps

Document Management is a complex process. It encompasses many stages, processes, departments, and institutions. All of this requires communication.

Communicating around a single document within the same department is manageable. Scaling this up to thousands of documents, hundreds of employees, dozens of departments every single day… You get a very, very messy situation. A disaster waiting to happen.

If each document could be digital, and all communication to be “attached” somehow to that document, then every person that opens that document could instantly see all the necessary communication around it.

4.   Poor or Wrong Decisions

Communication gaps lead to poor and even wrong decision. If there is a communication gap, that means that your employees don’t have all the information they need to respond to a certain task.

Your employees are decision-makers who are faced with time-bound goals that they must achieve. In such conditions when a decision is made in “an uninformed hurry” there is always the risk of mistakes.

5.   Disappointed Clients & Bad Reputation

No organization wants the same client calling over and over again, asking for the same information for days on end.

Yet, it’s so easy for this to happen if the information they require is somewhere in the archive room at the end of the hall. In a box or a drawer, unorganized, unlabeled, and difficult to search through.

Sometimes, hiring more staff can’t solve the problem.

Sometimes, technology needs to step in.

6.   Failing to Comply with Legal Requirements

Laws and regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and the HIPAA require the maintenance of records in an organized, secure, and accessible way. And in the absence of digitized documents and Enterprise Content Management System, it is very difficult to organize an information repository so that it complies with applicable laws.

Businesses that use an Enterprise Content Management System will be able to follow legal requirements much easier, much faster, much cheaper.

Let me wrap up this section on paper-based Document Management.

Data loss, cost escalations, communication gaps, all these lead to one undesirable result: Your organization is outpaced, outperformed by similar organizations that have taken the step to go digital.

Despite all these problems that come with keeping things physical, there are organizations that still can’t take the next step toward digitalization.

Organization heads usually fear the unknown. They fear the workload, cost, problems of becoming a paperless organization.

One thing I can say is, the benefits outweigh all fears of any unforeseen problem. And, if you rely on an experienced company, there’s almost no risk of digitalization.

Why Go Paperless?

why organizations should embrace digitization

There are many reasons to accept digitization and go paperless. The first and most important one is to avoid all the harms I’ve mentioned in the previous section.

But, going paperless isn’t only about avoiding problems, reducing the carbon footprint and eliminating costs. It’s also about proactively improving productivity and reliability of government agencies and enterprises.

In a form-driven industry, digitization can reduce error rates, wasted time and automate repetitive manual data entry.

With that being said, the further you move away from paper files, the closer you move toward:

1.   Better Security

Enterprise Content Management Systems have advanced security capabilities, especially when it comes to data access. With electronic Document Management Systems, it’s very easy to set up access rights for user groups, individual users, and even change these settings on a per-document level.

But, the security capabilities of Electronic Document Management Systems go beyond access rights. I am talking about electronic signatures, redacting confidential information, a creation of audit trails and much more.

Modern Enterprise Content Management Systems store all the data on a Cloud server. So even if your local archive burns down to the ground, and all your organization’s computers break down, your data will be safely stored on an Amazon cloud server.

2.   Instant Data Access

When all of your documents are digital, accessing them is much easier.

With digitized documents and an Enterprise Content Management System, you can access data much faster and easier. If you use a cloud-based Enterprise Content Management System, you can access your data from anywhere in the world, from any device with an internet connection.

Another added benefit of going digital and using Enterprise Content Management Systems make your documents content searchable by keyword as well as using tags and other metadata.

The instant access and searchability that digitization brings will significantly improve your efficiency, your workflows, and the entire customer experience.

3.   Effective Collaboration and Communication between Teams

Collaboration and communication are crucial to teamwork. And as we saw, paper-based Document Management is not the first thing you think of when someone mentions collaboration and communication.

Digitization, on the other hand, and Enterprise Content Management Systems do not only reduce the amount of paper in your office. They also make sharing of knowledge and information much easier.

Digitization will bring your employees closer even though they may be located at different places.

All of this makes modern Document Management Systems the go-to thing for collaboration and communication. I am talking about using one interface for communication, easy and fast access, pre-determined permissions, pre-determined workflows and so on.

And let’s not forget about customers and the collaboration and communication you are expected to accomplish with them too. Digitization will undoubtedly benefit everybody involved because your clients will also enjoy the interface for communication and the benefits of having an easily accessible digital copy.

4.   Unlimited Data Storage

Paper takes up a lot of space. From archive rooms, storage rooms, filing cabinets, climate control, disaster prevention etc. and that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that paper keeps piling up and often it is so fast that your staff will struggle to effectively and efficiently keep track of what’s where.

Digitization allows you to store all documents either on an on-premises server or on the Cloud, requiring much less space than a physical records archive. And the best part is that it is much more efficient than physical storage.

Large amounts of documents can be stored in a single computer, in just a few minutes and organized and sorted without a mistake.

5.   Backup & Restore

The only physical way to backup paper documents is to make copies of them and add to your paper mountain. Digital files, on the other hand, allow an easier, faster and safer way of backup entire archives.

Thanks to these modern technologies and the Cloud you no longer have to worry about backup and restore. Modern Enterprise Content Management Systems will do that for you with a few clicks of a mouse.

6.   Satisfied Clients

Having instant access to information means no more delays and unsatisfied clients.

Digitization allows you to respond to the changing dynamics of your customers, from customer demands to material shortages.

Well organized, stored and managed data undoubtedly increases the productivity of your staff which further results in increased efficiency. This, of course, makes the client satisfied with your work.

Another very important segment is the communication and collaboration we mentioned. Namely, with good collaboration and communication with customers, the customer experience is raised on a higher level.

7.   Eco-Friendly

Paper production is a massive contributor to greenhouse gasses, uses a lot of water, and is one of the major causes of deforestation. Printer ink and toners are no better. They contain volatile and hazardous substances that complicate waste management. All this makes large enterprises and government agencies to have a growing carbon footprint.

While recycling improves the situation a little bit, it still doesn’t and cannot undo the damage. Huge quantities of paper still end up in landfills or incinerators.

The best way to mitigate this eco-footprint is to simply reduce and even eliminate our dependency on paper documents. The idea of reducing paper on the other side is much more sustainable.

More and more companies value the environmental effect of digitization. The importance of a paperless office is not only about the business and workflow advantages. It is also about being considerate of the world at large and eliminating as much consumption and waste as possible.

8.   Reducing Costs

Investing in digitization means reducing costs.

Imagine: no more paper, no printers, no ink, no postage fees, no more bulky filing cabinets occupying office space, no more energy wasted on document handling.

Paper itself does not cost that much. What costs enterprises with paper-based offices is the management of paper-based documents. Digitization changes all of this.

Time spent filing, organizing, and searching for paper documents is a time that could be spent on more productive tasks. Digitization allows you that and much more. As I mentioned, digitized documents are stored in a central repository which is basically a well-organized digital filing cabinet where all of your documents are secure.

All in all, Enterprise Content Management Systems provide a better communication and collaboration, lower costs, unlimited storage, instant access, and security.

Going paperless means increased efficiency and productivity. More satisfied clients and a safer environment. All of which could never be accomplished in a paper-based office. A paperless office is a smart and prudent goal for businesses and organizations.

We at Armedia have been on the cutting edge of helping agencies and businesses switch to fully digital Enterprise Content Management. Throughout our work since the early 2000es, we’ve literally digitized truckloads of documents. We’ve decluttered many offices, reduced the paper footprint of agencies, helped them serve more clients with less effort and less time.

How Armedia Can Help You Go Paperless

Armedia can help you embrace digitized enterprise content management

Besides all of the benefits mentioned earlier, Armedia also takes care of deliverables like a modern Document Management System, a customized Case Management System to fit your workflows, and in-house training of staff. Also, we are providing on-site interventions whenever necessary or online support when needed.

Throughout the years we found the need for a database migration software that will help us migrate large amounts of digital data from proprietary systems onto new, Cloud-based storage systems. For this reason, our team built an Enterprise Content Management migration software that we call Caliente.

Caliente can be used to import content from external feeds into managed content containers. With this migration tool, you can process millions of content files daily, without the risk of data loss or data corruption.

Using our Caliente database migration software we can do quick and painless one-time content migrations from one CMS to another. So in case you’re stuck with some old technologies that are no longer supported, Armedia can help you move off of these old Enterprise Content Management system onto new ones, like ArkCase.

Caliente has been used by many projects performed by Armedia and now it’s in use as a key element of many more projects. One such case was when we used Caliente to migrate millions of structured and unstructured pieces of content into a new ECM Documentum based Case Management system for the US Government Enforcement and Intelligence Agency.

The vision behind it was to replace the existing mainframe structured and paper-based data case system with a modern system that supports electronic workflows, records, comprehensive search, evidence tracking, and reporting.

To learn more about this awesome tool feel free to read this blog post

Our goal at Armedia was never to be someone that will offer just another solution. We strive to provide the best for our clients. In doing so, during the last 15 years, we have made many successful integrations that improved our work. Caliente is certainly just one of the many.

Trough Ephesoft we help many clients to achieve full digitization. Ephesoft advanced capture solutions help enterprises and Federal agencies to run more efficiently, to increase information accessibility, searchability, organization, and data extraction from scanned documents.

We used ArkCase for customizing Case Management.

We relied on AWS as a Cloud service provider.

We turned to Alfresco for compliant data storage.

Since recently, Armedia has earned ISO 9001:2015 certification for Quality Management System (QMS). ISO 9001:2015 is a globally recognized quality management standard developed and published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

If you have any unanswered questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. And please do not forget to share this blog post on your Social Media so other people can learn about the perks of digitization and Enterprise Content Management Systems.

Digitalization Considerations: Why Armedia Relies On Ephesoft For Document Image Processing

Digitalization Considerations: Why Armedia Relies On Ephesoft For Document Image Processing

Armedia relies on Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 for document image processing

In the Case Management world, automation is not an unknown word. On the contrary, in Case Management, automation and digitalization have been a hot topic for the last few decades.

From classification to automated workflows, automation has been present in the world of large organizations. But, the one thing that has always been a problem in Case Management, and unfortunately, still seems to bother large organizations is paper-based documents.

In today’s world of Case Management where data access, security, and efficiency are crucial, many large organizations realize the importance of deriving value from data TRAPPED in paper-based documents.

According to a report by Wise, 4 out of 5 organizations say that they are trying to cut down the use of paper. Nearly a third of them place larger orders of paper than they did 5 years ago. And only 18 percent of organizations declare themselves as entirely paperless.

Numbers that won’t put a smile on any faces outside the paper production industry.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this matter and see why paper-based documents are such a problem in the world of Case Management and how organizations can make things better.

The Case Management Problem With Paper Documents

While paper itself is not that expensive, the costs of managing paper documents could be as much as 31 times the cost of buying it.

In 2015, Corp Magazine reported that in the United States, organizations spend on average 8 billion dollars annually on managing paper. The report explains that organizations spend an average of $20 to file a document, $120 to find a misplaced document and $220 to reproduce a lost document.

CMSWire found out that 47% of employees believe that the strongest thing preventing organizations from becoming entirely paperless is the lack of paper management.

The very nature of paper documents does not allow for large organizations to appropriately manage, access, and search through them. Reports mention a PricewaterhouseCoopers finding, that employees spend up to 50% of their time searching for information amongst piles and piles of paper documents.

This lack of paper management means delays, unsatisfied clients, wasted time, and wasted money.

Let me raise another key question here: What about paper waste? How much do companies even care? Does your company ever think about this issue?

Paper comes at a tremendous cost to our planet and we all know that. But, according to the statistics, it seems that very few cares.

Let’s take a look at some facts I found in The World Counts report:

  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves around 682.5 gallons of oil, 26,500 liters of water and 17 trees.
  • It takes an average of 5 liters of water to produce one piece of A4 paper.
  • Printing a Sunday edition of the New York Times requires 75,000 trees!
  • Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste and 33% of municipal waste.
  • Every tree produces enough oxygen for 3 people to breathe.
  • 50% of the waste of businesses is composed of paper.
  • S offices use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper a year.

So, the question running through my mind is:

Why waste any more money, time, and effort on managing paper documents when instead, you can rely on the next generation tools that can make Case Management much easier, faster, and much more effective. All of this while saving the planet from destruction.

Let me expand on the answer.

New Generation Tools vs. Paper-Based Documents

new generation tools vs. paper-based documents

The world evolves every day and new technologies emerge on the market as we speak. Thanks to this ‘new generation tools’ large organizations can now enhance productivity, provide greater access to certain types of information trapped in paper documents, and improve their preservation options.

With this ‘new generation tools’, large organizations are now capable of easily turning all paper documents into electronic forms which are easy to access, easy to search through, and easy to classify.
Basically, these tools enable organizations to save themselves from all the troubles of managing paper documents and in the meantime, save the Earth.

I am talking about digitalization.

But, what Exactly does Digitalization mean?

Digitalization, also known as digital image processing is the process of converting information into a computer-readable format. Paper documents are converted into their digital representations called digital images. These digital images can further be used in various ways, including full-text searching or editing.

This process starts by scanning the original paper document. The original paper document is then represented by a series of pixels arranged in a two-dimensional matrix called a bitmap or raster image. This image is then kept either on a network or transferred onto a variety of electronic storage media.

There are 3 ways in which paper documents can be digitalized:

  1. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – This method of document image processing makes an electronic conversion of images of typed, handwritten, or printed text into machine-encoded text. These images can either be a scanned document, a photo of a document, or a scene-photo.
  2. Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) – This method is an advanced version of the OCR. It allows computers to learn different fonts and styles of handwriting to improve accuracy and recognition.
  3. Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) – This is the fastest and most advanced technique of document image processing. It allows checkbox regions recognition on scanned images.

Scanning paper documents make them instantly available. These techniques of document image processing produce 2 types of files which have separate uses:

  • Master copy. This type of copy is created with the intent of replacing the original document. These copies are files with high quality and follow recommended standards that ensure complete and secure records.
  • Access copy. This type of file is a copy of the master file created with an intent to provide regular access to users. This type of copy also follows certain standards. Access copies are generally lower in quality resulting in smaller file sizes which allow for easier access.

Unlike analog data, which in the process of copying and transmitting might suffer a slight loss of quality, digital data can be copied indefinitely with absolutely no degradation.

Digitalization also increases the possibilities for using the information contained within the documents. Scanning paper documents only make them instantly available in master copies and access copies, but it also allows their further processing, managing, and maintaining.

With over a decade of digitalization experience, we at Armedia learned to rely on Ephesoft as the leading innovator in this field.

For some that are not familiar with Ephesoft, allow me a bit of time to explain who Ephesoft really is.

Why Go Digital With Ephesoft?

Ephesoft offers advanced capture solutions that help organizations run more efficiently, increase information accessibility and searchability. It allows all this by automatically classifying, separating, sorting and extracting data from scanned documents.

Here’s why Ephesoft is a safe, reliable digitalization choice:

  • Ephesoft makes business-critical information available to processes and customers faster and more accurately than legacy systems.
  • It’s the only document capture and extraction system to employ RESTful APIs, which makes it easy to integrate with third-party systems.
  • It’s open architecture and open-source, freeing up customers from proprietary black-box technology.
  • It has faster deployments when integrating with CMIS-enabled systems, including Alfresco.
  • It offers classification and separation without barcodes or separator sheets.
  • It has free-form Extraction – barcodes, key values, regular expressions.
  • It supports TIFFs, PNGs, PDFs, DOCs, XLSs, GIFs, and JPEGs.
  • It provides a platform streamlined for ease-of-use and high performance.
  • It’s browser-based so you don’t have to download it to a client system.
  • It provides significant data entry savings through less manual keying.
  • Ephesoft has Automated Learning for documents, emails, and faxes.
  • It’s Internationalized and Localized – easy to brand.
  • It provides LDAP and Active Directory Integration.

This September Ephesoft released Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2. Besides the benefits I’ve listed above, this new and improved version takes document image processing and data classification to a whole new level.

Let’s see why.

Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2

“Our goal is to make enterprise content capture and data discovery from unstructured data easily accessible and meaningful for decision-makers worldwide” Ike Kavas, Founder and CEO at Ephesoft.

For this particular reason, Ephesoft released their new and improved version of Ephesoft Transact.

As you can see from the image below, Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 includes 6 stages. Each of them very important and inclusive to the process.

Ephesoft transact 4.5.0.2

Now let’s take a glimpse at each stage separately and see how Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 work.

  1. Capture. The first stage of the process is data capture. Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 allows multiple ways of capturing data. From scanners, content services, mobile devices, etc., to UNC folders (network folders) and so on.
  2. Image processing. Once the capture stage is done, the process continues with image processing. At this point in the process, documents and images are prepared for classification. This phase includes: cleaning up, rotating, improving image quality, etc.
    All of this allows the resulting document to be easily identified in the third stage.
  3. Classification. The third stage is where the system determines the type of document. This step determines if a document is, for instance, an invoice, customer record, or any other type of file specific to the industry involved.
    As an advanced document capture system, Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 needs only one or two samples to learn to classify the document.
    For this purpose, Ephesoft uses Machine Learning algorithms, a variety of techniques for data classification like search content, images, barcodes, and one document merging.
    If the system shows low confidence in any document classification it calls upon a human operator for confirmation.
  4. Extraction. At this point of the process, Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 identifies the metadata within documents. The reason for the existence of this stage is because metadata is very useful in organizing, finding, and feeding documents into another type of business system.
  5. Validation. This is a stage where Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 validates the documents, in terms of a human assistance. In cases where there are some smudges, spills, blurry characters, or possibly missing fields in the document, the system alerts for manual verification and correction.
  6. Export & Deliver. Once all the documents are validated, they are moved to a repository or other line of business system. These documents and data can be stored either on a local server or cloud-based storage, like Alfresco, Box or SAP.

As such, the entire process of Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 improves productivity, increases transactional velocity, enhances data viability, and reduces processing costs.

This new version of Ephesoft Transact includes multiple new features and improvements build on Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.0’s functionality and flexibility.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

New Features And Improvements Of Ephesoft Transact

Ike Kavas, Founder and CEO at Ephesoft talks about these new features and improvements stating:

“Pioneering advantageous features that improve our customers’ business processes is what we do, and our latest version of Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 helps achieve that customer success.”

Let’s dig deeper into each new feature:

1. (Add-on) Transact 4 Mortgage

Transact 4 Mortgage is an extension of Transact and this add-on provides 2 possible solutions:

  • Standard Solution. The standard solution of Transact 4 Mortgage is capable of processing 400 loan origination document types that are already trained and configured for classification with Ephesoft Transact.
  • Premium Solution. The premium solution includes over 600 loan origination document types, also, previously trained and configured for classification.

This allows the customers to save up to 2,000 hours of implementation time or approximately an 80% reduction in configuration and deployment times for an entire enterprise. Shortening the time from several months to several weeks. Customers of this add-on will enjoy improved accuracy and efficiency for much shorter time.

This add-on is also capable of grouping documents of the same document type which can be of an enormous use and save additional time.

2. (Beta) Hybrid Cloud Plugin To Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2

For customers that need high performance that even cluster configuration of services cannot provide, Ephesoft introduces the hybrid cloud plugin.

This hybrid plugin for Ephesoft Transact enables organizations to offload the heaviest image processing or OCR demands to the AWS cloud. Thanks to AWS and parallel cloud processing, Ephesoft Transact offers users higher scalability for high performance and peak demands.

hybrid cloud plugin to Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2

As you can see from the image above, only the image processing/OCR happens in the cloud, while the classification and extraction happen on the Transact server.

With the beta hybrid cloud for Ephesoft Transact, you only pay for what you use. This plugin can also save you money by sparing you from adding servers, maintenance, and workers to support higher processing loads. The beta version is limited to 10,000 free images monthly in a trial capacity.

3. Swagger UI

Ephesoft believes that the best way to connect and share data is through Open APIs. For that reason, they’ve decided to make documenting APIs possible with Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2.

Swagger UI support allows modern, easier, self-documented Web Services for developers.

The Swagger UI support comes bundled with Transact for developers looking for standardized documentation. This integration feature provides standardized documentation of Ehpesoft’s existing traditional web service APIs.

swagger UI

Ephesoft uses this technology to create two advanced workflow Web Services Open APIs for both Nintex and Microsoft Flow.
Ephesoft uses JSON technology (JavaScript Object Notation), a lightweight data-interchange format, which makes it easier for people to read and write, and for machines to parse and generate.

These features are beneficial for both developers and non-developers by allowing them to classify documents and extract information via a simple Web Services interface.

“Users can now quickly add document capture functions to applications, removing the need for manual data entry or human intervention and increasing efficiency, accuracy and time savings.” says on the official site of Ephesoft.

4. Microsoft Exchange Header Support (Enhancement)

In Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.0, MS Exchange was introduced only for MS Exchange on the cloud. Now, with Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2, MS Exchange includes header support and ingestion of documents for an on-premise environment. This makes the Microsoft Exchange Header Support feature available for support on both on-premise and cloud platforms.

Users can now configure the email headers (Subject, From, To and Date) to be included in the batch.xml file when processing batches via AWS.

Adding on-premise support provides extra availability to customers and expedites processing through the system.

5. PDF/A-1b Compliance For Export

Transact has typically supported single and multi-page PDFs within the export module. From Release 3.0.3.4 to 4.5.0.0, Transact has supported PDF/A compliant PDF’s for export, but not PDF/A-1b.

Now, Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 offers PDF/A-1b Compliance and supports searchable single and multi-page PDFs in both black and white as well as color.

The enhancement helps customers put in place more advanced archiving and long-term preservation of electronic documents into their repositories.

6. Fixed Form Extraction Performance Improvements

Ephesoft Transact 4.5.0.2 came out with significant performance improvements to the Fixed Form Extraction process for Windows, used for data extraction from checkboxes and signature detection.

Customers using 16 core system will see up to 70% to 80% performance improvement, and 32 core system users will see impressive improvements up to 250% to 300% performance gains.

Impressive, isn’t it?

The faster processing of pages per minute allows organizations to quickly access their data, make more informed decisions, and improve customer satisfaction.

These new features and improvements of Ephesoft Transact are changing the world of document image processing and Case Management.

Let’s Wrap Things Up

ArkCase and Ephesoft

With all of the features and improvements done by Ephesoft in their newest version of Ephesoft Transact, they’ve made the existence of paper offices outdated.

All of this features contribute to creating the following benefits in the Case Management world:

  • Entirely automated workflows which save time and increase productivity.
  • Easy access to documents which in their paper form were difficult to locate not even search through,
  • Integration with other applications which make ERP, CRM, ECM, and back-office programs document-capture-enabled,
  • Cost Savings which comes with the removal of paper document management.

Protecting our customers’ best interest and always aiming towards achieving the best, our team decided that a document image processing solution like Ephesoft Transact is a must for our customers.

If you want to find out more about our collaboration with Ephesoft or about our Solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

What are your thoughts about digitalization? Please share them in the comments section below.

How to Determine Pricing of Your Scanning Project

How to Determine Pricing of Your Scanning Project

the price of document scanning

Now that your firm has decided to finally do something with all the documents in assorted boxes, file cabinets, offices, storage rooms and warehouses, you need to figure out how to really get it done.  Most importantly – what is it going to cost?  How long will it take?

At Armedia our approach is to give you the answers.

We recently received a request to quote nineteen, four drawer file cabinets.  Our first question was – how big are the filing cabinets? The response: standard cabinets. Ok – just to be clear – standard to who, to what?

At Armedia we understand there are dozens of different sizes for 4 drawer file cabinets.  They can be 12”, 24”, 36” wide or even larger.  How deep are the cabinets?  Some file cabinet drawers seem to go on forever when pulled open. Are the pages placed in an 8.5” x 11” letter width or are they set in a legal format?  The width definitely affects the volume of documents contained inside.  One Armedian first thought there would be 50,000 pages to be scanned but when asked to consider these other sizes it showed it could be up to 500,000 pages to be scanned.  Size matters.

Knowing the scope up front is the first priority.

To help you know what you have in your documents we need to know:

  • How large or small: what is the size of your project?
    • An office full of cabinets
    • warehouse with thousands of banker boxes
    • combination of files, cabinets, offices, boxes, warehouse
      • how full are the boxes or cabinets
    • When do you want it done?
      • What is your bottom line turn around?
    • What is your budget?
      • Is the budget for one year or to cover multiple years?
      • Is there a fiscal deadline?
    • What type of documents do you have?
      • Fragile which require Manual scans
        • Documents cannot go thru a high-speed process and require extra care and effort
      • Non-manual which allow for High Speed
        • Any document that can be done quickly with little effort
      • Page size
        • Legal, letter, ledger, oversize, receipt, post it note
      • Type of paper documents
        • books
        • pamphlets
        • sticky notes
        • newspapers
        • architect drawings
        • carbon copies
      • Media Conversions
        • CDs
        • DVD
        • Cassettes
      • Security Level
        • Confidential PII
        • Secret / Top Secret
      • Number of boxes and file cabinets to scan
        • Location for items
        • Dimensions of boxes and cabinets
      • Damage to documents
        • How many will require repair and special attention
      • Age of documents
        • Paper younger then 10 years
        • Paper older then 11 years may require special attention
      • Bindings:
        • clips or staples
        • spines – can they be cut?
        • Will items need to be rebound after scanning?
      • How many of each do you have to scan?
      • Are there items not to be scanned mixed in with scan items that need to be sorted?
        • Are personal or non-essential items mixed in with files?

After reading the above questions I am sure your response is like all our other customers; a weary ‘I don’t know’.

Don’t worry – Armedia knows how to find the answers.  Armedia will send over trained document assessors to review and determine the scope of your work.  Our team will tag each box, cabinet and office with what they contain. You will have a visible form providing you with the answers to your project scope.  A clear reminder to folks as to what is tagged to be scanned to make their work life easier and uncluttered.

We will know that your nineteen, four-drawer file cabinets contain exactly 350,000 letter size pages, bound by staples, clips, have a few sticky notes, some are double sided, paper age under 10 years and all need to be scanned within 45 days of receipt within current fiscal year.  Now we can determine a fair and equitable price of your project.

Armedia also has experience in being shown into a storage room where everything needs to be scanned.  Our trained team begins the process of reviewing files, tagging boxes, cabinets, and drawers to provide an exacting summary of the project.

Our team has even gone into a cluttered office to remove car tires, box up folders on the floor, organize misplaced files in boxes on shelves to take what a client thought was 5 cabinets to scan but turned out to be 112 boxes of files to be scanned.  This client was amazed by the work our team did to restore their space and attain an exacting number of documents to scan.

In this specific case the Director was quite pleased we only showed the ‘after’ photos in our summary presentation as there was no way they would want their leadership to see how poorly their team had cared for their historical documents.

Armedia strives to leave places better than we find them.

A really quick way to determine the cost for your scan project is to know the total volume of items to scan.  To start we need to know how many document pages are to be scanned.  How many pages involved is to know the number of inches to be scanned.  If we consider a brand new ream of paper, with no clips, paper issues or other concern, it holds 500 sheets of paper. If they were scanned it would be 1000 double sided scans.  Do the math on your project – better yet – let Armedia come in and do it for you.

But remember extra work on documents requires extra costs.  The quality of the documents and the age will affect how the items can be scanned.  If we need to repair pages, cut book bindings or keep spines intact to scan, rebind items, or scan fragile documents, it require additional time which equals more money.

Don’t let the scope of your project worry you.  Let Armedia understand your answers to the above questions as we will be able to provide an excellent price for you to get your job done right, on time and within budget. We can discuss pricing per page, file, box, or space.  We want to understand your plan and will work with you and your team to meet the objectives.

Let’s begin the process. Call or email us today.

Learn more at www.armedia.com.

Safely, Securely, Successfully Scanning Documents

 

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One thing……. Production Scanning

One thing……. Production Scanning

Armedia provides successful and secure document scanning

Lots of places offer lots of services.  Armedia document scanning and digitization does one thing well.  Production scanning to help offices quickly reduce their physical files into manageable electronic files.

This means we scan large volumes of documents.  Whether they are fragile / manual or non-manual / high speed.  We have scanned over 10 million documents with over 8 million aged and fragile documents.  We have taken extra care to ensure every page and all content is clearly visible, readable and accounted.  We can offer these services to be at a client site or at our secure site.

Does your office have tons of files that need to be converted to a working electronic file like PDF or TIFF?  Do you pay hefty storage fees on boxes of documents and then another fee to borrow the box to view the contents and then return the box to storage?

Please know that Armedia can save you time and money by removing your documents from their rented storage space, scanning them, ensuring through quality control all pages were properly scanned and then with your direction have them securely destroyed or returned.  Once they are scanned and not destroyed but returned to their rented spaces, no longer will there be a frequent need to move them in and out of their rented spaces as the electronic file will provide the same information in a much easier and accessible, searchable format.

Armedia recently completed scanning eight departments at one Federal agency in one fiscal year.  Our services allowed the Agency to consolidate space by destroying the documents and then the ease of working with digital files.  Employees were relieved to see their files were quickly accessible to use and share. Historical documents were captured and no longer aging from the elements.  Content was safely captured for future use and reference.  Fear of light, air or insects destroying files is no longer an issue to them.

One protective agency librarian did not want us to touch their fragile documents for fear of harming them.  With much trepidation and resistance, they released their files to us.   As soon as we returned their documents they commented with much surprise and happy relief.

‘Wow, all I can say is wow!  I can’t believe how all my files are now safely captured and available to use.  I have been so protective of them for years. For years, I have been very strict in sharing these severely fragile documents and books.  Now they are accessible to everyone to read.  Wow, thank you.  You just made my job so much easier.  What a relief. Thank you’.

Quality Equipment.

Armedia has invested in high quality scanners to ensure quality production and viewing of digitized documents. We have fragile scanners and flatbed scanners.  The flatbed scanners include ‘Advanced Triple Ultrasonic Double Feed Detection with Intelligent MultiFeed Function (iMFF) and retain image feature’.  In layman terms; when a document enters the machine it will hear if a page starts to scrunch and immediately stop.  Protecting the document from potential shredding in the machine.  It will also protect against multi feeds and maintain image quality.

Our scan team members clean their machines several times a day to avoid streaking on documents from build up of dirt and grime.  Aged documents with onion skin paper leaves a residue on the equipment requiring much more frequent cleaning between scans.  Running large volumes of onion skin paper through scanners will often leave lines or streaks on the final scans. Which may block text and require rescanning.  It’s very important to us to frequently clean the equipment to avoid these issues.

Armedia team members monitor daily all the working scanner parts to ensure top performance.  Parts are replaced frequently to ensure accuracy.

Pages flow quickly thru a scanner when the wheels are properly working.  Worn scanner wheels often pull multiple sheets thru at one time allowing for misfeeds and worse – pages not scanned.  Only thru an accurate quality control process will missing pages be found.

Armedia quality control is at both the scan level at time of scan and then by our QC team post scan. Our scanner technicians review pages prior to scan, they count the pages to know the actual scan count. After the scan they confirm page count, review scans to ensure quality of each image and see if anything on page is missed during scan from a folded page, page overlap or dust.  We then take an extra step with a trained Quality Control person reviewing all the files against the physical documents to ensure all pages are present, clearly visible, no items are missed in scan and no damage occurred.

Missing Pages

Every page is counted prior to scanning.  We know the number of pages that should be scanned.  We verify the scanned page count once scanning is completed.  We also recommend scanning both sides of the page every time to ensure 100% accuracy of no missed pages.  Blank pages can be removed after the scan or at the time of scan but risk of items missing is possible. As people write lightly or in pencil on pages those items can be missed depending on the scanner quality setting.  We recommend 300 dpi as the standard setting.

How often have you taken a document you are using to turn it over and write notes on the back of the page? We see it all the time.  We understand the value of these notes and know they need to be scanned.  Nothing worse then going through scanned pages looking for a specific item to realize you wrote it on the back of a page and the back was not scanned. Bummer.  Capture all your data, including what Is on the back.

A blank page tells the story; nothing was written, nothing is missed.

Tracking Documents

We track all files and pages depending on how we receive your document meta data.  If we receive names of all documents prior to scanning we will use that list to track files through our workflow.  If we have to create your meta data at time of scan we will do that as well.  At anytime we can find a file and let you know the status.

If you urgently need a file or document we can retrieve it for you and return to you within 24 hours via scan or physical delivery.  Sooner if it is vital.  We are here to help you keep your business running while you update your processes.

Trust Armedia, we are here to help you achieve your goals for you document scanning & digitization.

Learn more at www.armedia.com.

Safely, Securely, Successfully Scanning Documents

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