How Sharp can help your business automate manual repetitive tasks
Sharp Cloud Portal Office is a light document management system designed specifically with small to medium sized businesses in mind. As well as being a repository for all your digital files, Cloud Portal Office includes a host of features designed to improve the way you handle documents.
This includes the ability to automate manual and repetitive tasks using the tools from Sharp’s Optimised Software Portfolio. These third-party software tools have been rigorously evaluated and are fully integrated with Sharp hardware and Cloud Portal Office.
When we think about automating manual tasks, we’re thinking about any process that involves information stored in a paper form, or a mix of paper and digital, where perhaps someone needs to input information from a piece of paper into a digital system, or file documents manually. This is time-consuming, tedious and prone to human error. There is a lot of potential to streamline these processes.
It starts with the Sharp Optimised Scanning application that integrates with Sharp MFPs to allow users to scan documents from the MFP and store them online.
Optimised Scanning can be used in a variety of settings, from the mail room in a larger business, to Accounts Payable or even handling company expenses – any situation where a wide variety of documents are coming into the business and need to be processed.
When the document is scanned on the Sharp MFP, Optimised Scanning runs OCR (Optical Character Recognition) across the document to make the text readable and at the same time extract key information.
Real life example: the mail room
In the context of mail, the information which can automatically be extracted will typically be the recipient’s details, the date the letter was written, as well as the date the document came into the business.
The system then provides an opportunity for the operator to validate the information, as well as re-key any data if it proves necessary, so making sure the OCR process has been successful. Once the information has been captured and passed through this workflow, it can be stored and managed in Cloud Portal Office Document Management System.
As the mail is filed into the recipient’s folder in Cloud Portal Office the workflow, it will send an email notification to the end-user to inform them they have new mail on the system. In order to access that mail the user simply clicks a hyperlink within the email and the document is retrieved from Cloud Portal Office.
Alongside Cloud Portal Office, we have developed an essential API set for developers that can be used to allow any application to work with Sharp’s Optimised Product portfolio.
The advantages of using this solution are increased efficiency, allowing your business to do more with less. Improving accuracy, as the documents are always delivered to the correct end user in a timely fashion, is also a bonus.
Advanced Data Extraction
For more advanced processes, such as Accounts Payable, we need to be a little more intelligent about the information we extract. Our Advanced Data Extraction module allows the system to extract line items from invoices without the need to put fixed OCR zones on any particular part of the document.
For example, we know invoices from different suppliers will have information we need to extract in different places. So, Advanced Data Extraction uses intelligent smart zones to look at the formatting, the prefixes, even the logo, to set up templates that meet the needs of the business.
Once the system has extracted that information, the operator can validate it. When the invoices are presented to the operator for checking, the software is advanced enough to merely highlight those areas that need to be validated, making it a quick and simple process.
Digitisation is just the beginning
Many people see digitisation of documents as the whole story. However, one of the biggest advantages is that once we have information in digital form we can set processes around it, and the business has better control of its information.
In many respects, the mail room is the gateway for automated processes. Once digital mail is on the system it can be in used conjunction with further processes to aid the business.
Typically, this will be handled by setting up rules within the workflow. For example, if mail isn’t opened within two days, an email reminder can be sent. Perhaps, if it hasn’t been opened in a further two days, notification will be sent to a colleague or line manager. In this way, all mail is acted upon and the business can measure the performance of how that information is flowing within the company.
Digital mail can also be sent to further processes depending on the nature of the business and document type, for example claim forms can be routed to the correct department in an insurance company
Another clear advantage of automating such processes is one of tracking and accountability. By digitising all documents as soon as they enter the business, an audit trail is created, so giving the business greater control.
Ultimately, automated processes make a business more agile and competitive. If your competitors don’t employ this kind of technology they are likely to be less responsive to their clients. After all, if all your files are in a digital format and in one place, they can be easily found, accessed and dealt with, so speeding up your response time.
Sharp is providing these tools to small to medium-sized businesses that larger enterprises have enjoyed for a long time but at a fraction of the cost.
If you would like to know more about how Sharp’s Optimised Product Portfolio can help automate your business processes, please get in touch and we can arrange a demonstration.
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