As a business leader, you understand that accurate, reliable, and accessible information is the lifeblood of your organization. Sharper decision-making, better customer service, and more effective cost control all depend on the quality of data at your fingertips.
Today, powerful new scanning and capture technologies make it easier than ever to digitize your records. However, smart companies know data is only usable when it is organized and accessible by the people who really need it.
Document database indexing turns your data into usable information, allowing you to efficiently locate and retrieve information from your scanned documents. We take a closer look at this critical document management process and how your business can best leverage it.
Visible and Usable: What Is Database Indexing?
Data needs to be both visible and usable to your computer systems. You need both accurate data scanning and effective database indexing to unlock the real value of your company’s information. No digital conversion is complete without an index, and an index isn’t possible without digitized content. Let’s consider these two processes in turn.
Document scanning creates a static photograph or image of your original document. This may be a JPEG, TIFF or PDF Image. . When any business document is scanned, it is saved on your server as an image file. That file will have a name, but no other identifying information that can be recognized by your computer system. Therefore the ability to search and retrieve the image is somewhat limited to the file name.
Further techniques are necessary to digitize this visual information. They do this by extracting raw data about the contents of the file that can be stored, searched, and retrieved by your computer system. Indexing is also known as data extraction or capture.
Once you begin converting physical documents to digital records, indexing is the next step toward a comprehensive document management solution. While document scanning makes your information visible to a computer system, document, or more accurately a database— indexing makes this information usable.
Indexing gives you the ability to quickly perform meaningful searches for information in your scanned documents. This involves organizing the data captured through document scanning into a structured database table that powers your business processes.
Originally, the only way to digitize information was by tedious manual data entry done by humans. Today, companies like ILM Corporation use advanced techniques to achieve the same results or better in a fraction of the time. These techniques include:
- Intelligent character and optical recognition (ICR & OCR)
- Robotic process automation (RPA)
- AI-power machine learning
For best results, ILM combines electronic scanning and manual checking to minimize both human and machine errors.
A key decision when converting paper documents to digital files is what information requires indexing to use in the database. Typical data points include:
- Phone numbers
- Customer numbers
- First and last names
- Account numbers
- Invoice number
- Order number
- Keyword descriptors
A document management company like ILM can help you to decide what data points are most relevant to your index structure. We then design an index with a data structure optimized to your business needs. For example:
- In accounting, invoices may be organized by invoice number or vendor
- Personnel departments use first and last names, as well as dates of employment
- Medical and dental records reference insurance policy numbers or patients’ birth dates
How Does Document Indexing Work?
Determining the ideal database index architecture involves thoughtful decisions about primary key columns, table columns, sort orders, and tree indexes. Index designers also need to decide how they want to reference data captured by the scanning process. There are several ways to do this.
Full-text indexes require your system to create a reference for every word captured in a document. While this delivers powerful and flexible processing capabilities, the quantity of results may not be as useful in finding the exact information that you are seeking.
Field-based indexes are populated with criteria that are important to your business. Your system can then search this table to find key information such as a name, date, or account number. This is Ideal for systems with highly standardized data.
Building Document Indexes That Work
Your document database indexing will determine how easy it is for your staff to access the information they need. It’s critical to structure covering indexes in a way that meets their goals. To achieve this query optimization, it’s important to consider:
- Exactly who your end users will be. This might include customer service associates, account payable staff, personnel or account managers, department heads, etc.
- Balancing ease of use with flexibility and processing power
- Including user-defined options to search the full text of records as well as indexed fields.
- Industry and legal standards for information access, such as HIPAA
- Federal and state security and privacy regulations and guidelines
Experience counts in setting up indexes that will drive efficiency and productivity gains no matter the number of records. It’s worth consulting with a document management expert to get this right. ILM Corporation offers more than 50 years of experience developing indexing systems for a wide variety of industries.
Benefits of Document Extraction and Indexing
When implemented properly, an effective document indexing system provides a range of clear and measurable benefits for your organization.
Find Information Faster
We identify and create indexes with the most relevant information (commonly known as metadata) from each digitized document. This helps to ensure quick and efficient data retrieval. We also provide you with a secure, user-friendly portal where you can quickly run searches and retrieve information.
Improve Document Management
Storing and retrieving information from physical documents is a time-consuming and cumbersome process. When properly digitized and indexed, retrieving and sharing document files is simple. Your team won’t have to manually search for information in a physical file.
Design your indexing system to protect privacy and enhance security. Limit information access to just the criteria that the end-user requires or password-protect sensitive categories. Outsource digitizing to a professional document management company to ensure security during the scanning process.
Professionally indexed document management systems can help improve record tracking and information access control. Trimming custody chains and logging record access makes auditing easier. This helps your organization improve compliance with industry, state, and federal documentation security standards, including:
- NARA and M-19-21
- SOC 1 & SOC 2
- Federal secure facility certifications
- ISO 9001
Reduce Storage Costs
Save on floor space and overheads by shredding paper records or moving them into secure off-site storage. Reduce spending on specialized, secured on-site storage areas.
Minimize Environmental Impact
Improve your company’s carbon footprint to align better with local and state environmental guidelines. Optimizing your office space by getting rid of on-site storage will allow you to lower your power bill. Processing less paper will lessen your trash and recycling impacts. Having more documents digitized makes it easier for staff to work remotely, reducing office overheads further.
Free Up Staff
Make better use of your available staff. Liberate them from laborious record searches and tedious data entry work. Let your best people spend more time doing what they do best by outsourcing your records scanning and indexing to a reliable document management partner like ILM Corporation.
Generate Business Intelligence
Smart indexing that matches your business model does more than speed searches and improve customer service. Accurate, reliable, and fully searchable information is a great tool for generating sales leads or identifying marketing opportunities.
Business analytics based on quality information can also provide valuable strategic insights. This can help you spot opportunities, identify threats to your business model, and make better, more timely decisions.
Digital Mailroom Integration
Digital mailrooms have become increasingly important as more and more organizations have moved to distributed, hybrid, or fully remote working arrangements. Digital mailrooms scan incoming mail, UPS/FedEx deliveries, invoices, and insurance claims and then route these items to your staff.
Effective document scanning and indexing systems are at the heart of every digital mailroom.
With a document management system in place, you can manage your correspondence and other digitized documents on a single server.
ILM offers fully outsourced digital mailroom management solutions customized to your needs and featuring:
- Mail forwarding
- Fully integrated scanning and indexing functions
- Lockbox payment processing services
- Inbound fax processing
- Email processing
ILM: Your Document Scanning and Indexing Partner
ILM Corporation is a leader in outsourced document management services. From comprehensive offsite document scanning operations, dedicated accounts payable services, and fully integrated digital mailroom solutions—we can assist you with your needs.
When you partner with ILM for document indexing, you choose a company with decades of document management experience under the belt. We have developed fully customized indexing systems for organizations ranging from tech start-ups to major government and defense agencies. We offer:
- Real-time access to your files since they are indexed via our secure online portal
- Enhanced data quality standards to ensure maximum data accuracy and cleanliness
- Increased data security by removing complex document chains of custody
- High-quality data delivered on time and within budget
To get started indexing your digitized documents, reach out to us. We’ll work with you to develop a custom indexing solution that will allow for quick and easy information retrieval. Contact us today to learn more about our indexing services or click below to learn more.