Frankie-the-frustrated worker: Making Salesforce better with Automatic Data Entry

frankie the frustrated iconFor this particular blog post we would like to use a light-hearted approach to a major problem.  The problem is lost productivity and user frustration around populating data into Line of Business applications via Manual Data Entry versus Automation.

To illustrate my point let’s take one of the most popular Software as a Service (SaaS) applications ever, Salesforce.com.  And while the application is absolutely simple to use and easy to manage, what lacks is the ability to take information from paper and/or an image and put it directly into Salesforce.com database fields.

 

1.  Let’s take a moment to go through the steps to import data into Salesforce.com and follow the steps Frankie-the-frustrated worker must take to get this task done.
 ftf1_crm_import_wizard
2.  Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“Frustrating!  Step 1 of 7????”
ftf2_step_1
3.  Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“MORE FRUSTRATING!!!  WASTING TIME!!!”
ftf3_step_2
4.  Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“MORE THAN EVER FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!!!  WASTING TIME, MONEY, AND ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!!” 
ftf4_step_3
5.  Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
 “FORGET IT!!!!!!!!!!!! 
 THIS WILL NEVER END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
 WHY IS IT LIKE THIS????? 
 ISN’T THERE AN EASIER WAY????????????????” 
ftf5_step_4

 

Education and modern technology reduce Frankie’s frustration

Are we still living in the stone age when it comes to data entry into computer systems?  Isn’t there a more efficient method to automatically populate data in your software application instead of costly manual data entry?  It’s 2014 after all, not 1914.  Why do we accept such primitive methods of data entry?

 

Answer:  Because we need to educate the market on the capabilities of capture technologies.  We also need to strive to make integration and usage as easy as possible.  If you build it, they will come.

 

frankie the frustrated 2014 slide
Eliminating Frankie’s frustration with Ubiquitous Information Capture
Realizing the dream of Ubiquitous Information Capture directly into applications is much easier than you might think but we must educate the market on current capabilities. The idea is simple, yet highly effective.  Embed the ability to take photos with a smart phone and/or capture paper documents from a scanning device directly into your software application.  Note that all I’ve done in the screen prints below is add a small icon of a camera and scanner directly into my CloudConnectMashup software application.

 

ftf6_cloudconnectmashup
Now, I can offer my users a truly great user experience because contributing information is nearly effortless and removes pain associated with manual data entry.  This translates directly into reduced operational costs, improved efficiencies and an overall better work environment.
ftf7_uic_600
Think about all the lost opportunities to drastically reduce labor costs, most likely in the billions if not trillions of dollars, associated with manual data entry in just the use cases below:

 

1.  Transportation applications with Bills of Lading, Proof of Deliveries, Trip Sheet or Scale Tickets

 

2.  Field Service applications with Proof of Work delivered, Vehicle Identification Number, Work Orders or Assessment documentation

 

3.  Contracts Management applications with Amendments, Terms and Conditions or License Agreements

 

4.  Invoice Management applications with Invoices, corresponding Packing Lists or Proof of Performance

 

5.  Sales/Contact Relationship Management applications with Business Cards, Agreements or Correspondences

 

Do you know a Frankie in your organization?  Do you have a story, good or bad, to tell?  We’d love to hear your feedback.

Scan-to-Alfresco technology options

Product Description
Acxio AGIA : ACXIO Generic Injector for Alfresco  http://www.acxio.fr/index.php?option=com_rokdownloads&view=file&task=download&id=4%3Aacxioagiaprc070141v0-1&Itemid=13
ChronoScan We offer a full featured Scan & Index solution with OCR and Barcode Read, PDF Text Output, it’s free with nag screen and 130USD to buy, it can direct export to Alfresco through CMIS protocol   http://www.chronoscan.org
Corium Corium is dedicated to building and providing you with the best solutions for your data capture, document management and content management business requirements. Corium developed “Librex Capture”, a tool that allows you to capture all your content in a simple, unified and structured way, whether you have to scan paper documents, capture emails, faxes or import electronic documents automatically or manually. Also, Librex performance tools allow you to automate your content metadata extraction (OCR, Barcode, Data lookup). Its smart connectors allow you to transfer your documents to various systems in a structured way and following your business rules for automatic classification. Librex offers a smart connector to Alfresco. For more information, see http://www.coriumsoft.com/en/products-a-services/librex/librex-capture-bridge/21.html
Ephesoft If you want to do serious recognition or classification, separation, and metadata extraction of data similar to the big players (Captiva, Kofax, Readsoft), You should check Ephesoft. There’s a free community version and an enterprise one with commercial OCR and other benefits including full support. There’s no click charges and it’s all browser-based written in JAVA. It exports to XML or to any CMIS compatible system like Alfresco. A lot of power for no initial outlay–just the support payment.   http://www.ephesoft.com/
Ezescan Ezescan is the ideal scalable scanning solution. The Product has had many years of integration with other DM systems, there are about 800+ sites accross the globe using the solution for various things like general correspondence, ad-hoc scanning, invoices & forms. You can scan as many documents as you like, all without a per page click charge. The Product will OCR, ICR, BCR, IDR depending on which modules you choose and best of all, its just been released for Alfresco. You can also upload to other line of business systems at the same time as well, scan once, upload multiple times.   www.ezescan.com
InstaCapture Quikcapture™ is a feature rich batch capture product designed to capture and transform high volumes of paper documents into text-searchable electronic documents.  With a rich feature set to streamline and automate the document capture process, it enables organizations to rapidly transform paper assets into actionable knowledge assets.  It offers compelling features to completely automate the capture process with automatic indexing, automatic document recognition (ADR), zonal OCR, full-text search and searchable PDF’s. Quikcapture™ is effective both as a standalone document capture solution and a distributed capture solution for your existing document management systems; it offers readily configurable connectors to FileNet, Alfresco, SharePoint and DB2 Content Manager.   http://introspeqt.com/blog/tag/capture-for-alfresco/
IP-TECH It depends on how many papers to scan.. for unit scanning, we use a connector that sends the document to Alfresco with an option to include its metadata (by the way, we adapted the connector to work on ScanSnap scanners as a ScanSnap Manager’s custom profile).
IRIS IRISPowerscan™ will identify and separate the scanned documents automatically through barcodes, patch codes, text detection, or even document layout alone! Once their type is known, documents can be indexed by extracting key data for further processing   https://www.irislink.com/c4-2365-63/IRISPowerscan—High-Speed-Scanning-Software.aspx
Kodak Capture Pro Convert forms, invoices, patient records and other critical business documents to high-quality images quickly and efficiently. Capture critical index data and automatically deliver it to databases and applications. Get powerful, flexible batch capture functionality in desktop to high-volume production capture environments.   http://graphics.kodak.com/DocImaging/GB/en/Products/Software/
Document_Scanning_Software/Capture_Pro_Software/index.htm
Kofax Integrating Kofax and Alfresco provides complete Content Management support including capture, management and publishing of Content. Kofax captures content from all kinds of sources usually via scanning & OCR. The captured information is then “released” to Alfresco, for it to be managed in an ad-hoc manner or via pre-defined business processes.   http://wiki.alfresco.com/wiki/Kofax_Release_Script
Micro Strategies MSI Profiler for Alfresco is a powerful, flexible, and easy to use application developed to place robust indexing and scanning management features into the hands of users with intuitive interfaces. The latest version of MSI Profiler represents a next generation release of a product that has continually evolved over the past five years in response to user feedback and specific industry requirements.   http://www.alfresco.com/partners/solutions/msi-profiler-document-capture
PRODYNA NABUCCO WebScan   www.prodyna.com
Scanpoint Documalis is a functional complement to the major documental projects, providing solutions to capture faxes and paper documents, indexing via Automatic Document Recognition-Automatic Document Content Reading, OCR and PDF conversion, digital sign and workflow for outsourced Alfresco, Filenet, Nuxeo , MS SharePoint …   http://www.documalis.com/express/Partenaires/integrators.php?locale=en_US
Zia Consulting Inc The solution we use for data entry and release is something we created called Fresh Capture (http://www.ziaconsulting.com/home/freshcapture). It allows users to browse a directory for PDFs (soon to be compatible with other formats), preview the document, select the document type, enter meta and release to the repo. This is an Air app and CMIS.   http://www.ziaconsulting.com/home/freshcapture

 

ABBYYForce for Box

Use Case:  The Salesforce product offering now is much more than it once was just a few short years ago with the focus primarily on their core Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software as a Service (SaaS) capability.  The ecosystem has evolved to where there are many useful, as well as, innovative SaaS applications built using the Force.com, and other platform services that Salesforce now offers.  The ease of relative use from a development standpoint, the time to start utilizing an application as well as the decreased complexity is just a few of the reasons why the platform is so successful.  An independent third-party CustomerSat Survey in July/August 2009 had the below interesting statistics to confirm these platform benefits:

The platform encourages new innovation with easy to use development environments and this translates directly into terrific technology solutions design opportunities for hardware manufacturers, mobile developers, SaaS providers and even Enterprise customers themselves to create custom mashup applications for their precise needs.  In this particular solution we will use a similar platform concept with the exception that instead of CRM application logic and workflow, the ABBYYForce project is offering Conversion and Data Capture as a Service.  Salesforce with their support of metadata and logic, in conjunction with ABBYY as a Service metadata extraction technology and Box secure storage and collaboration are an ideal solution for Enterprise organizations looking for best-of-breed functionality.

An animated version of the vision:

Use case scenarios:

  1. Scanning device manufacturers and mobile developers:  Devices that are capable of capturing images is quickly becoming ubiquitous.  This includes not only all the dedicated or network-attached sheet-fed devices but also all the multifunction devices with scanning capability and especially mobile devices with smart phone cameras.  The opportunity for device manufacturers, as well as, software developers that create integrated solutions using their tools and SDK’s is tremendous to offer more of a complete solution than just the capture device itself.  Box is a perfect option because highly secure storage and effective collaboration on content is at the core as a least common denominator of customer expectations.  Additionally, Box offers many methods to integrate with their service including Box API, Box OneCloud Platform or Box Embed so there are several different options depending on requirements.
  2. Software as a Service (SaaS) providers:  SaaS solution providers are revolutionizing the way that business applications are delivered with great potential in offering their customers improved operational efficiency without the time-consuming tasks of procuring, installing and deploying traditional on-premise software.  Now organizations of all sizes can have robust, enterprise-level applications such as CRM, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Travel & Expense (T&E) Management without the typical barriers to actually begin utilizing these applications.  However many of the process workflows associated with most of these applications still involve manual data entry at some point or another.  For example, manually entering business card data into your CRM, keying-in invoice details from a received invoice into your ERP or doing the time-consuming task of entering all the line items details from an expense receipt into your T&E system.  Adding Data Capture as a Service which is a complimentary technology either embedded directly into your SaaS user interface, or as-a-service that can automatically populate index fields with relevant metadata takes improving business efficiency to the next level.  By adding this efficiency improving capability, SaaS providers can provide the tangible return on investment in reduced manual labor costs to help moving forward sales quicker and/or justify subscriptions for additional seat licenses because of the improved total cost of ownership.
  3. Enterprise customers for internal projects:  Since nearly all software as a service applications offer integration possibilities via Web Services application programmers interface (API) this makes integration over the internet much easier than in years past.  Traditionally, integration work to get two systems to communicate together was often an expensive professional services engagement that took time, money and intimate knowledge of these systems.  Standards that Web Services utilizes such as XML, HTTP or REST open up the possibilities for a dynamic group of creative and innovation software developers to integrate applications with agility like never seen before.  Savvy Enterprise customers could possibly already have the internal software development skills themselves, or can outsource projects to this new skilled set of Web Services developers.  In this use case scenario an Enterprise organization can select best-of-breed applications for their particular needs and have a developer with Web Services skills integrate, or just finely tune, applications for tight interoperability.  For example, a solution might use Apttus for their Configure/Price/Quote (QPC) Management system and Concur Travel & Expense (T&E) Management system which both already have Salesforce Force.com integration and then use the ABBYY Data Capture as a Service to integrate Data Capture capability into these applications.  And since the Enterprise realizes that their workforce, and their customers, are highly active via mobile devices they use the Box Web Services API to store the images captured directly into Box.  This way everyone interacting and collaborating on content can use any one of Box’s highly useful mobile applications.
Features Benefits
  • Pre-built templates
  • Customization easily achievable
  • Fit your specific organization needs
  • Quick adoption for better return on investment
  • Reduce outsourcing development costs
  • Agility to fit precise business requirements 

Solution Description:   ABBYYForce is the concept of a pre-built collection of ‘Custom Objects’ within Salesforce that are basically different Document Types.  For example the document types we will use are Business Card, Invoice Statements, Questionnaire and Banking Documents.  These Custom Objects are packaged together in what Salesforce calls an “App” and are given to Salesforce administrators who then can install a complete suite of different document types in minutes.  Capture is an extension of a business process so the first thing we’ll want to do is create the Custom Objects in Force.com.  Once these Custom Objects are created we will then map our Data Capture index fields to the Custom Object fields.

 

System Requirements:

Note:  This is a software developer and/or systems integrator solution.  While many of the concepts are achievable, there is some level of software integration that will be required.

  1. Box account
  2. ABBYY technology (depending on specific requirements)
  3. Salesforce Force.com account

 

Configuration Steps (Complexity = Software integration required):

  1. Subscribe to ABBYY Online Services or login to access the services account
  2. Review the Configure Services menu
  3. Create Custom Objects in Force.com
  4. Create Custom Fields with Data Types in Force.com
  5. Create an input device copy and paste code
  6. Paste the code into your application
  7. Notice the new input device icon now embedded into your application
  8. Configure your back-end connectors
  9. Add new document types or create a new form
  10. Depending on your subscription services you can Create a Conversion widget or Create a Data Capture widget which has field mapping capability to map Data Capture index fields to database fields in the back-end application
  11. Reporting of all subscription services with easy renewal

 

User operation (Complexity = Easy):

  1. User clicks a capture icon or hyperlink to acquire an image
  2. Verify the extracted data for high accuracy
  3. After confirmation then the data is saved immediately into the back-end application

 

Associated screen prints on this solution:

  1.  ABBYY Online registration form

  1. Login to access online services

  1. Configure services

  1. Create Custom Objects in Salesforce

  1. Create Custom Fields with Data Types

  1. Configure input device with copy and paste code

  1. Paste code into your application

  1. Capture device icon embedded into application

  1. Configure back-end connectivity

  1. Document Type Configuration

  1. Creating a new form

  1. Create a Conversion widget

  1. Create a Data Capture widget

  1. Reporting

 

  1. User clicks the icon to acquire an image

  1. Verify extracted data

  1. Once confirmed the data is stored directly into the back-end system

 

 

This is a fairly sophisticated integration that can be achieved rather easily using modern platform development tools and various cloud services.  Do you have any experience using platform services?  Is this type of as-a-service for Conversion and Data Capture of interest to you?  Do you have a specific use case scenario to share?  We’d love to hear from you.

SharePoint with Automatic Data Capture and two-way syncing for Box

 

Use Case:  Your organization has installed SharePoint behind the corporate firewall to manage and organize your electronic content.  Also, your organization is actively digitizing paper documents via document scanners and, as a compliment to scanning to improve efficiency, desires to use Automatic Data Capture software technology to extract pertinent information from an invoice such as invoice number, bill to, ship to and total.  However, in this ever-evolving world of on-the-go and mobile you find yourself and your fellow co-workers on the road quite often which is problematic due to poor support of mobile devices when using SharePoint.  In this case you will want to be able to view, as well as contribute content to SharePoint using a highly-collaborative and easy to use service such as Box which has outstanding mobile device support.

Use Case Scenarios:

  • Accounts Payable (for improved cash flow):  Invoices are quite common in most organizations no matter what your vertical market focus.  Using data capture software technology organizations can automate the process of entering relevant index into their accounts payable system.  Just simply capture an image of the invoice then the data capture software can intelligently locate an area containing the information such as areas on the page with the word, or words, and variations of Invoice Number, Invoice No. or Inv. #, for example.  Once these keywords are found then the system is intelligent enough to find, and extract the data you want from Invoices such as Invoice Number, Date, Net Terms, Bill To, Ship To and Total Amount.  All this metadata extracted is then stored in SharePoint so that the accounting department can then help achieve cash flow improvements such as getting invoices paid to take advantage of pay discounts (i.e. NET 15 terms) by filtering the Net Terms metadata field in SharePoint to pay all these invoice as a priority.
  • Healthcare Insurance (for enhanced adherence to compliance):  Healthcare providers are often reimbursed by Healthcare Insurance companies through the use of standard claim forms such as CMS-1500 or HCFA (Health Care Financing Administration) claim forms.  These forms have a standard format meaning that the same type of data (i.e. the field ”Social Security Number” is always found in the same location on the form).  These forms contain a lot of information crammed onto one form which is great for convenience, but terrible for manual data entry because they can contain in excess of 200+ fields per form!  In our use case we would use data capture technology to automatically extract all these metadata fields and then populate SharePoint metadata fields with this information.  We can then apply all sorts of security and rules policy based on this metadata.  For example, the insurance company can view how many outstanding claims there are based on a “Procedure ID” but they don’t have access to the specifics beyond that which could possibly be a violation of the law.
  • Government (for better consumer service):  One of the main purposes of the Government is to serve the best interest of the community with various services to enrich people’s lives.  Applying for, and especially receiving these services, depends a lot on the accuracy of information acquired by these respective Governmental agencies and often this information is contained on paper-based forms.  Governmental departments often have a bad stigma because of all the bureaucracy and inefficiency that is clearly obvious to most consumers such a long wait times or lost paperwork.  However, this is not neccessarily people’s fault, rather its the process that is broken.  If you really consider the source of wasted effort, it most likely revolves around paper forms.  In this use case we would want to take these various ‘social service application’ forms filled out by consumers and process them with automatic data capture so that these agents can spend more time consulting with the applicants instead of doing manual data entry.  This ultimately would create a win-win-win situation and drastically reduce frustration with all parties involved where the Government can achieve better satisfaction among their workers, the consumers themselves are better served in a timely manner and a more efficient overall process to improve service is implemented
Features Benefits
  • Two-way synchronization between SharePoint 2010 and Box
  • Automatic Data Capture to extract specific document metadata indexes
  • Enhanced user experience
  • View and contribute content from Box mobile into SharePoint and vice-versa
  • Reduce labor costs with automatic keyword extraction
  • Provides for higher level of adoption rates

Solution Description:   LibraryCard combines “systems of record” and “systems of engagement” by connecting the governance and control of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and the flexibility and convenience of Box. LibraryCard provides companies with the ability to leverage content platforms inside and outside their firewall for an enterprise content management system that really works “better together”.

System Requirements:

Note:  This solution is surprisingly simple to install and configure, it literally only takes minutes.  You can view a video on the installation by clicking here.

  1. Box account
  2. Microsoft SharePoint 2010
  3. LibraryCardRequest 14-day trial

 

Configuration Steps (Complexity = Simple, just need administrative privileges):

  1. Install the Library_Card.wsp file on SharePoint 2010 Farm Server
  2. Deploy and Activate LibraryCard
  3. Once you have verified that LibraryCard is Active, then configure your Box account to connect with LibraryCard by choosing the New Box Account link, then login to your Box account.  Upon successful configuration you will get the Box thank you message

 

User operation (Complexity = Easy):

  1. Just use SharePoint 2010 or Box as you normally would
    • Files will automatically be synced back and forth between SharePoint 2010 and Box.  As a reminder you may need to refresh your web browser and/or refresh your folders if using the Box mobile application

 

Associated screen prints on this solution:

1. Invoice with web-based Automatic Data Capture

2. CMS-1500 with web-based Automatic Data Capture

3. Deploy LibraryCard

4. Activate LibraryCard

5. Verify activation

6. LibraryCard Configuration

7. New Box Account connection to LibraryCard

8. Login to Box account to connect LibraryCard

9. Successful connection of LibraryCard and Box

10. Users files in SharePoint 2010

11. Same files that were in SharePoint 2010 are automatically synced to Box.  Users can also add files into Box and have them synced back to SharePoint 2010 via the bi-directional sync functionality of LibraryCard