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Digitizing / Data Capture from Millions of Forms
 
Executive Summary
This is a brief overview of the solution implemented by Information Architects, in partnership with NCR, for a leading telecom provider that serves 30M pre-paid and post-paid customers. This large telecom firm invested over US$1B to provide mobile coverage to 5,000 cities and towns. Each new subscriber completes a paper form at one of thousands of distribution franchises and outlets across the country.
 
Project Objectives
Information Architects was asked to provide a solution to convert paper based subscription forms to images and to capture the data from each form electronically.  The client also required segregating pre-paid and post-paid service connection documents.  The electronic data captured would then be loaded into the company Data Warehouse and CRM systems. Management could then easily access analyze and verify the customer data and documents, and identify point of sale and prepare marketing campaigns. The client also wanted to gain visibility into, and maintain, financial profiles for every distribution franchise and point of sale using this data.
 
Solution
IA’s approach included defining the processes and formats, developing software, setting up the data capture facility, and implementing the solution to store the client’s information. To capture the form data, high speed Kodak scanners and leading Kofax Ascent Capture Enterprise software were initially selected for the project.  This investment was made with the objective to automatically read the forms using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition). However the forms, handwritten and filled out in the field, were such that OCR/ICR could not consistently recognize the characters to the quality standards required.
 
Forms would continue to be scanned to create a digital image. In addition, a decision was made for IA to manually enter the form information into a database. This two-step process required a large data processing facility and a desktop application for data operators to manually key in data and track and store both images and data.  
 
A robust, scalable and speed-enabled architecture resulted in Information Architects’ custom software in C# called eDocMan. This program runs on a Microsoft .NET framework, with an SQL Server and Windows servers to meet the high volume requirements.
 

Processes for collecting forms, verifying each document, scanning the documents, capturing electronic data and storing the electronic images and data were designed.

IA established a facility supporting 250 workstations, high speed scanners, data and file servers and hired and trained over 300 staff to work on the system and enter the data.
 
Within six months the new system had digitized images and entered data for 6.7M pages of forms.
 
To further speed operations, allowing digitization of up to 400,000 pages per day, IA’s solution maximized concurrent connections to the database and concurrent operations of the software on multiple workstations.  IA implemented:
  • DataAdapters provided in .NET framework
  • DataAdapter connections to the database to auto-fill the eDocMan data sets.
  • Connections back to the database to update the data there, based on operations performed on the documents by eDocMan while the DataSet held the data. 
  • DataAdapter provides a bridge to retrieve and save data between eDocMan and the SQL Server.
  • The eDocMan DataSet is an ‘always disconnected’ record set.
  • Data coming from the database is placed into eDocMan’s software DataSet objects for processing.
  • Then, as changes are made to the DataSet they are tracked and verified before updating the source data.
  • Data Backup and Archiving maintains a mirror server using log shipping. Each transaction is replicated on the mirror server.
 
In addition, IA’s Data Capture facility operates 24 hours (3 shifts) a day and 7 days a week using eDocMan to manage the large data entry facility of over 300 people. These include operation days, shifts, seat assignments, scheduling, monitoring, etc.  All operations performed by any employee are logged and available in eDocMan reports to the administrators.
 
Results and Benefits
 Close to 10M pages were scanned and the data was captured. This gives data visibility to the telecom operator including:
  • Readily accessible, accurate information about each subscriber
  • Segregated information by Pre-paid and Post-paid customers
  • Identification and analysis of sales by distribution franchise
  • Creation of financial accounts for each franchise
  • Upload of this information to the client’s Data Warehouse and CRM system to analyze trends, profitability and other metrics based on the subscriber and distributor characteristics.
 
In addition, the eDocMan product has configurable workflows to manage the forms and the content. This has provided:
  • Flexibility to the client’s business managers to review and select the workflow based on business requirements
  • The workflows include verification processes at each stage. This can apply to quality control. For example data entry by two individuals (for higher quality results) involves an operation to select the most accurate data captured. The software has an option to select the percentage of data/ documents that the Quality Control staff will review for verification.
 
Finally, by outsourcing the data capture operations, the telecom client was able to ramp up quickly while maintaining focus on managing their core business. They are able to easily and quickly meet local law demands to access client documents and subscriber information. This data has proved essential for marketing and financial processes now standard at the company and helpful in providing a consistently good customer experience. Smart use of technology is one reason the client maintains over 30% market share in a competitive, multi-vendor market.

 

Industries We Serve
Industries served include:

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Our Partners Are
Our channel and technology partners are:

>> SAP
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Big Data Solutions

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Data Integrity Solutions

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Office Automation Solutions

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Building Databases

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