SimpleECM APIs Turn Static Documents into Meaningful Business Workflows

Amit Shetty, Sr Dir, Mkting & Prod Mgmt, SimpleECM
Jun. 30 2014, 01:10PM EDT

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Companies have long scanned documents and stored them electronically, but, today, document scanning and storage should be considered just the first step in a more innovative document-processing workflow. The documents an organization deems worth saving should not be simply relegated to electronic archival; they should be put to work--fueling streamlined, efficient processes that can be leveraged across all business systems.

Document Management Workflow Synopsis

Document management APIs liberate data, integrating it seamlessly into the workflows that drive an organization’s success.

For example, with a common activity like invoice processing for accounts payable, even organizations with sophisticated ERP systems spend significant amounts of time and money re-entering information or manually processing invoice data into existing business systems. Instead, an automated approval workflow--starting with capture and ending with automated payments or sign-off routing--can be set up using document management APIs such as SimpleECM REST APIs and standard JavaScript coding.

Using SimpleECM, the steps look like this:

  1. Invoice is scanned to the web
  2. The SimpleECM Form Extraction API identifies all actionable data, including vendor and amount.
  3. Invoice data is compared to the purchase order and the receiving document (three-way matching).
  4. The payment amount is determined automatically; if the amount exceeds a specified dollar amount, invoice data is routed to an approver.

You can see that document management APIs simplify complex workflows into three simple steps: capture, process and integrate. Using the invoice processing example, the right APIs simplify capture by enabling invoice scanning from a wide range of equipment, including mobile devices; an API that provides line-item extraction instantly transforms invoice images to actionable data instantly; and business service APIs route the invoice data and link the processes with multiple business applications.

How Does It Work?

First, the integration of static documents into your workflow starts with a JavaScript Capture API, enabling apps to control a wide range of scanners and save documents to the web. This approach puts documents and the residing data in an active state, accessible to Web and mobile applications for further processing. In effect, the simple adjustment of saving to the Web makes everything an organization captures instantly usable.

Next, the captured documents are processed, following this protocol:

  • Read:  Optical character recognition (OCR) technology “reads” the documents so that information in the document can be processed.
  • Interpret:  A document management API, like SimpleECM’s Form Extraction API, provides very precise line-item extraction to transform the captured text into meaningful data.
  • Integrate:  APIs normalize authentication and protocols, simplifying connections to multiple and varied business systems.

The useful data that has been extracted can now be used to eliminate manual processing, resulting in much greater efficiency and near-perfect data accuracy rates that contribute to higher quality standards throughout the organization.

The same forms processing APIs can also be used for a different workflow—for example, to implement an inventory management solution. Suppose an invoice arrives that summarizes the cost of finished goods to be added to inventory. Using the same APIs, an automated inventory management process can be set up that captures data from invoices, transforms and routes data to inventory management systems, and takes specific action based on new data such as inventory levels, price verification and automated ordering based on count of goods.

Or, take the case of new employee onboarding. This requires a complex workflow that involves numerous departments and a sometimes-discouraging number of forms--all of which need to be processed and integrated into dedicated business systems. With document management APIs like SimpleECM’s Form Extraction API, these tasks become much easier:  Forms like W-4s, I-9s, direct deposit, healthcare and Insurance can all be matched to a forms recognition template. Relevant fields are extracted and transformed, and the data is pushed into payroll systems, human resources management systems or any other business system that uses employee data.

How Do I Benefit from Document Management APIs?

The use cases described in this article underscore how a flexible platform and a robust set of document management APIs can simplify the development process of turning documents into actionable data, making it easy to add services, create customized solutions or augment existing workflows to modernize business processes.

Moreover, these APIs arm organizations with the tools needed to build only what they need and use.

Indeed, today, scanning and storing documents is the first step on a long, productive and profitable journal—made possible by document management APIs.

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