Document capture is any one of several processes used to convert a physical document to another format, typically a digital representation. It refers to applications that provide the ability and feature set to automate the process of scanning paper documents. Most scanning hardware, both scanners and copiers, provides the basic ability to scan to any number of image file formats, including: PDF, TIFF, JPG, BMP, etc.
This basic functionality is augmented by document capture software, which can add efficiency and standardization to the process. At its simplest, document capture involves scanning a physical document and saving it as a digital image. However, in the context of enterprise information management (EIM), creating a digital image file is often not adequate for business purposes. For text documents, capture usually includes processes like optical character recognition (OCR), so that the information contained in the document can be accessed and integrated with an organization’s information systems.
The option to capture documents and make their information available has become increasingly important for a number of reasons, in particular regulatory compliance requirements, information security, and the competitive business environment. The goal for implementing a document capture solution is to reduce the amount of time spent in the scanning and capture process, and produce metadata along with an image file, and/or OCR text. This information is then migrated to a Document Management or Enterprise Content Management system. These systems often provide a search function, allowing search of the assets based on the produced metadata, and then viewed using document imaging software.