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Adding OCR To Your Document Management System

Is your organization moving toward becoming a paperless office? Are you scanning all your old paper documents into your new digital system?

If so, you’ve likely run into the same issue other organizations hit when they start digitizing paper documents…

Once you’ve scanned your paper documents into your new document management system (DMS) or enterprise content management (ECM) system you end up with thousands of image files that look something like this:

OCR document management

They take up a lot of space, can’t be edited, don’t allow copy/pasting of text, and can’t be searched!

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Makes Your Scanned Documents Searchable & Editable

The solution to this challenge is optical character recognition, commonly referred to as OCR. Adding OCR features to your document management system makes all your scanned documents searchable. Depending on the OCR solution you choose, you can convert the scanned images into text files, searchable PDF files, or Microsoft Word files. This makes it easy to search through files to find the one you need, then search within the document itself.

After using OCR to convert scanned documents into actual text content, you’ll also find it much easier to edit or copy/paste content in the files.

Example: Updating Old Contracts
Your organization has a contract from 2005 that was scanned into your DMS and now needs to be updated and re-signed. Without OCR, you’d have to type out the entire contract again before you could edit it. Thanks to OCR, you can copy/paste the text or edit the file to create a new updated version of the contract without having to re-type all the text.

Quickly Add OCR Functionality To Your Document System With An OCR API

If your ECM/DMS software doesn’t come with OCR features built-in, there are tools your software development or IT team can use to quickly add scalable OCR features to your existing system. Implementing OCR via a web API allows your software systems to send files to another server for OCR processing and receive back a searchable text PDF or text file. This often makes integration faster and easier, and is compatible with nearly any programming language. View PrizmDoc OCR API.

3 Factors To Look For In An OCR Solution

The most critical factor for an OCR engine is accuracy. Document scans are rarely perfectly clear in the real world, which makes it harder for the OCR engine to accurately identify each character. A small difference in accuracy rate can mean a big difference in the usability of the final documents. Look for these accuracy features in your OCR API:

  • Extensive algorithms to maximize accuracy
  • Confidence ratings on recognition results
  • Ongoing optimization of the engine for accuracy
  • Full support to assist in optimizing the OCR engine for your specific use case

If you have a large number of documents to convert, choose an OCR engine that will support high-speed processing. As a web API, PrizmDoc OCR can be quickly scaled up or down to meet your needs.

Output Format
Know what file format you’d like the OCR engine to return back to your document management system. In most cases, a searchable PDF file is what you’ll want, but in some cases you may need a text file, Microsoft Word file, or other format.

Note that there are two different OCR output options for PDF:

  • Text based PDF – the output recreates the document as best it can with text objects. There will be fidelity issues, but the document can be edited.
  • Image over text PDF – the scanned image of the document is in the front, and the text created by OCR is behind it. This is for cases where preserving the original document might be important (legal reasons, signatures, etc). The document will be searchable, but not editable.

Have questions about what OCR approach will work best for your organization? Contact our engineers for a free demo and consultation.

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