Forms processing automates form recognition and data extraction for paper forms, while Electronic Forms (Eforms) replace costly paper forms and include advanced functionality to format, calculate, look-up, and validate user information.
Forms processing begins when the paper documents are scanned and the image stored for processing. During the scanning process, the image is enhanced using a variety of tools including automated cropping, black border removal, deskew, and speckle removal. In addition, characters on the document may be enhanced by use of sand and fill techniques.
The image is then processed by the system. The form is recognized by the system and matched to a data capture template by use of an Explicit ID such as a barcode or identity is forced by the user. After the form is identified, the system extracts information from predefined regions as identified by the template. Recognition zones are defined with the type and format of expected data. Recognition zone settings can be defined to expect hand or machine print, text or numbers, dates, or via a user defined templates. Recognition zones are then processed using OCR (Optical Character Recognition), ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition), OBR (Optical Bar Code Recognition) or MSR (Mark Sense Recognition). Results of automated reading are compared to data dictionaries and lookup tables for validation. Fields not meeting pre-defined confidence levels for accuracy are reviewed by staff and corrected if necessary.
In addition to traditional forms processing activities, the EDMS uses the technology for image capture. Templates are created to read needed indexing information from scanned images. The values are compared against lookup tables created from data previously stored in the business application and if a match is found, additional indexing information is associated with the document. Our goal is to require the user to identify no more than three index values and use those values to index an additional 5 to 10 index values which can be used for retrieval in the future. With proper planning and minimal form modifications, the system can successfully automate the entire indexing process without any keying of information by staff.
Eforms are a major advancement over paper forms. In addition to outsourcing the entire data entry process, eforms also provide significantly higher data accuracy. Incomplete or error filled form submissions are eliminated by use of form validations. Data entered by the user must conform to standards identified in the form template. Entries can be required, eliminating the need to contact the user to obtain information inadvertently left off of the form prior to submission. Form fields can be automatically formatted on entry. Data residing in a user profile or data base can be automatically downloaded to the form on open or in response to a specific value. Data from the forms can be ported to the appropriate business application. Record copies of the forms can be provided to the user and stored automatically in the EDMS for records retention purposes.
If the forms processing and eforms system are integrated, a single form template can be used for both paper and electronic forms. The single template can be used to support preprinted distributed forms as well as print and fill, fill and print, and fill and submit activities.
An Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) is a collection of technologies that work together to provide a comprehensive solution for managing the creation, capture, indexing, storage, retrieval, and disposition of records and information assets of the organization.