By RG Conlee, Sr. Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer, Xerox Business Services

Even though we are well into the “digital age,” most organizations are still dealing with an abundance of  paper-based documents.  The challenges are numerous – the cost associated with creating, revising, and capturing (scanning), complying with regulations, finding information when you need it, and providing customers with access to public information.

Paper documents are really “unstructured” data and it’s easy to see the advantages gained with “structured” digital documents.  Structured documents hold data that is 100% searchable, meaning you can quickly find information when you need it. Other benefits include the ability to collaborate, version control, and manage documents throughout their lifecycle as you access, edit and process them. As an added bonus, digital documents can be securely archived and you can backup your data with the peace of mind knowing that it’s protected from accidents and natural disasters. The good news is that there are many business document automation solutions available that can enable you to create structured documents and improve the flow of information throughout your office.

Many businesses “automate” with basic scanning like  scan to e-mail or scan to a network folder – without realizing you can do so much more.  In fact, some users e-mail a document to themselves only to rename it and send it to its final destination. This requires many time-consuming steps and lacks “structure,” or identifying data, making it difficult to effectively use the document later.

One of the most efficient ways to automate your business processes is to leverage equipment you likely already own – your multifunction printers (MFPs). These multi-tasking devices used in conjunction with the proper workflow solution can offer you document workflows that are highly intuitive and simple to deploy.  For example, you can walk up to your MFP, select a customized workflow and securely scan your documents directly to the correct destination, along with identifying data for that file.  Items like file name, file type, destination (single or multiple), e-mail alerts, approvals, and more can be set up and used every time you scan.Woman scanning an invoice using LiveKey on a Xerox MFP

Understanding the challenges businesses face as they try to manage paper vs. digital documents, Xerox developed a way to simplify those tasks with the LiveKey Business Process Connector.  This solution enables the use of Xerox MFPs to instantly and securely capture paper-based documents and digitally transport them to Xerox business processing centers, replacing the manual method of copying, sorting, creating cover sheets, and shipping. Now, these “structured” documents are received the same day they are scanned.  The result is a much faster process that is more secure and less costly.

Think about where you are storing some of your most important business documents right now and how much time you spend just shuffling paper around. Are your documents safe and can you find information for things like customer requests, legal actions, and regulatory audits?