While there is evidence that capture technologies are gaining ground across the enterprise, recent research by AIIM (news, site) seems to indicate that most deployments have been haphazard and not the result of a coherent strategy to improve data capture and enter it into enterprise business processes.

The research is contained in the AIIM Market Intelligence Report Capture and Business Process: Drivers and experiences of content-driven processes and is the result of a survey carried out in October and November last year based on 493 responses from individual members of the AIIM community.

Capture and BPM

It shows that despite the fact that most companies are looking to converge all their capture into a single system, 60% say there was one or more capture and business process management systems in their enterprise. Figures also show:

  • 14% of organizations are using capture and BPM across multiple processes and departments
  • 27% use some degree of automated routing
  • 19% extending this to use extracted data to route and process content.

Market Drivers

In all, the picture is of a market that still has a lot of development to do, even though the figures also show that there are considerable financial incentives in capture and BPM deployments.

AIIM_BPM Use.jpg

BPM use in enterprises

Amongst the findings, 39% reached positive payback on their investments in scanning, capture and BPM within 12 months, rising to 60% within 18 months. Automatic document classification shows a particularly high return for the 19% of respondents utilizing it.

However, while improved process productivity and process quality produce significant financial savings, enterprises were as likely to cite better knowledge sharing and access as a driver as they were to cite significant financial return.

In fact, the biggest driver for BPM and capture technology is significantly improved search and content sharing across the enterprise. This results, the respondents said, in improved productivity and better customer service.

Looking at where adoption problems lie, it seems that the biggest hurdle is the resistance to change and lack of understanding of the possibilities presented by BPM and capture combined. Integration issues with legacy systems and difficulties involved in mapping processes were the biggest technical issues.

AIIM_Capture Drivers.jpg

Five Capture and BPM Considerations

Leaving aside issues around outsourcing, or whether it is better to keep capture in-house, there are five areas that stand out:

1. Business Drivers for Capture

Most companies resort to capture and scanning to make documents easier to access electronically. While most enterprises do not deploy capture for this purpose, once technologies have been installed, users report this to be the strongest long-term benefit.

After that, improved processes are cited as the next big driver, indicting that the removal of keying data into systems is only secondary to more comprehensive improvement in process. Cost savings through reducing storage space was also cited as was better and more responsive customer relations.

2. Business Process Management

BPM is still largely a medium and enterprise software, with smaller companies less likely to have deployed BPM, even for the more basic approval processes. Overall, 27% have some level of automated data routing into BPM systems with 19% extending this to use extracted data to route and process content.

Over the coming months, many enterprises aim to standardize their capture and BPM deployments with 40% planning to converge disparate systems into a single deployment.

The goal of a standardized BPM approach using a common toolset is one that many organizations are striving to achieve, with 40% of BPM users planning to converge disparate systems to a single solution, particularly in the largest organizations. In this respect, there is a small move away from custom systems or middleware in favor of dedicated BPM suites.

3. Scan-to-Archive vs. Capture-to-Process

While 82% have coordinated scanning, only 16% of them are capturing data for use in processes rising to 27% in larger organizations. However this doesn't say that documents are not being entered in processes but that they are being manually entered into systems.

Of the 66% of organizations scanning to archive, half are not using data capture to assist with indexing and are manually applying metadata, although a significant proportion are capturing full text for subsequent blanket searches.

4. SharePoint Problems

Despite some enhancements in SharePoint 2010, it still has very limited native capability for scanning and capture. As a result, 16% of SharePoint users have interfaced it to a specialist imaging system, but only 9% of users are making any use of scanned images as part of a basic workflow or BPM-enabled process.

5. Paperless Office

Even though document management and capture promised the “paperless office” the use of paper and photocopies in 27% of organizations is increasing even though in 39% there appears to be a decrease.

AIIM_Paper Use.jpg

However, AIIM says, this is the first time a survey has seen an overall net reduction in the use of paper principally in smaller organizations with larger organizations showing no movement. Amongst organizations with more extensive scanning and capture software, 53% are seeing a reduction in paper use.

Do You Have a Strategy?

Pressure to cut down on paper use combined with the need to keep and store and increasing number of documents for regulatory means that enterprises have no choice but to look at document capture software.

However, the content contained in electronic documents is also required by many business processes, so increasingly we see business process management software being deployed along with document capture technology.

However, the research seems to show that much of this happens by accident, rather than as the result of good, strategic planning. While the two together aim to provide better information management across the enterprise, this lack of planning is likely to be the biggest barrier to effective capture and BPM deployments. You can download a full copy of the AIIM report here after registration.