Compart - Document- and Output-Management


Universal Input Output Processing of Documents

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Input and Output Processing of Documents Is Merging More and More

Parallel worlds: Many companies still keep input and output management separate – organizationally and technologically. Inconsistent data management is typical, like when different terms are used for one and the same thing. Some departments call it a “customer number” and others a “reference,” necessitating elaborate data mapping to merge documents into one and same process.

The activities associated with processing incoming (input management) and outgoing (output management) mail are similar both organizationally and technically and are thus eminently combinable. Think of the convenience. Say a mobile provider receives a customer’s cancellation notice. It is automatically captured, indexed, forwarded for proper review and approval, and archived. In turn, archiving triggers the confirmation (including formatting, conversion, and metering) and delivery over the customer’s preferred channel (output management).

In principle, this type of input-output processing could be represented as a workflow in a system, provided that the interfaces to the upstream and downstream applications are correctly set. It would be easy to incorporate high-powered scanners into the process for digital read-out of image data and use of different communications processes, such as creating and sending electronic identity documents.


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  • Merging input and output processing
  • Data units both worlds
  • High automation through linking
Processing documents - input output management

Data Unites Worlds

The fact is that IT-supported connection of input and output management offers several benefits for customer communication – shorter processing times, lower costs, and better control of compliance with company-internal service level agreements (SLAs) with respect to delivery schedules and response times. It’s only logical that the two worlds of input and output processing should grow closer, especially because input and output management share many technical components, such as the archive system.

What links the two together, of course, is the raw metadata in the document. Optical character recognition (OCR) is typically used to read the data, which then proceeds through the entire document processing cycle. Take the previously mentioned customer confirmation as an example. The data would just need to be retrieved, possibly enhanced with additional data, and then formatted based on the corporate identify (CI). It would then be forwarded automatically to the delivery center.

So much for the theory. In actuality, most companies maintain separate processes for data transformation. What a waste of resources! Certainly, personal preferences play a role in maintaining this situation. Some people have a hard time adopting change. But this antiquated process is senseless from the standpoint of quality and cost.

One Platform for All Processes – From Input to Output to Input

The goal must be to create a central instance for managing data. From there data is made available for the different applications. It’s no accident that companies in the USA now have a chief data officer (CDO) who is exclusively responsible for data gathering and processing. Because regardless of how a document is received or sent, the data is and remains the same on the input and output end. But there’s more – process logic needs to be standardized (including plausibility checks).

The organizational and technological foundations must also be laid to support the coexistence of screen-based (web) and physical (paper) documents, because both will continue to be used in customer communication for some time to come. Different IT systems should not determine a customer’s preference to conduct business over the web or on paper. Both worlds, input/output management and web applications, must be integrated into an overall architecture.

To offer customers a number of alternatives for handling the same business transaction – whether filling out an HTML input screen, an interactive PDF file, or a paper form – uniformity is required, first by breaking free from the standard page format. In most companies, that means shifting responsibilities. Data transformation management need to apply their document processing competencies to Web development, or even make the latter a separate organizational unit. Finally, document capture, processing and output must be done on a single platform.

Interconnection Brings a High Degree of Automation

In other words, document processing should not be tied to form (paper, PDF, web) in future, but to the processes and the data. However, this requires that the company restructure its existing workflows. Issues that need consideration include:

  • Standardization of rules, such as releases and signatures in interactive processes (who may sign what, approve payment, respond, etc.). By way of clarification, releasing an invoice (input management) is really nothing more than an “OK to print” (output management).
  • Clear definition of interfaces between automation and manual intervention.
  • Linking the existing and previously separate applications for input and output processing in an effort to achieve the highest level of automation possible.
Input output channels - processing documents


Input and output channels
The resulting new structures can then be implemented using appropriate solutions for integrated input and output management. The growing number of input and output channels (print, secure mail, web portals, mobile end devices, social media) needs to be considered, and their inter-dependencies precisely defined and managed.

Document processing workflows
Once the new workflows are refined with the appropriate logic (rules, text/syntax modules), business process management (BPM) is already in place. This principle goes far beyond combining input and output management; it marks the beginning of a new era in document processing and automation.


Document processing workflows and automation

End-to-end Document Processes from Input to Output

Wish vs. Reality

Output management is responsible for creating documents from data streams, and preparing and formatting the documents for distribution through various channels. Those channels include not only regular mail but also electronic ones such as fax, e-mail, electronic letter, mobile systems (Smartphones or tablet PCs), SMS messages, and web portal publications. Output management is also tasked with creating documents and text for individual departmental correspondence, printing, postage optimization, and inserts management.

Input management begins with document receipt and is also tied to various input channels - postal as well as electronic. It also provides software-supported content recognition, classification, and the transfer of data to processing. Any number of systems may be involved in processing, e.g., ECM, ERP, BPM, CRM or proprietary data processing systems.

Input and output: When the goal is to build efficient and universal processes, input management, data and document processing systems, and output management must be carefully dovetailed. What do these systems and organizational units need to accomplish? BIT surveyed a number of suppliers and experts from the document processing community.


BIT Magazine interviewed a number of providers and experts from the areas involved in the document process for this purpose:

Five Questions on “Input Meets Output”

1.Logical business processes for linking input and output:
What business processes lend themselves well to interlinking incoming and outgoing customer communications?

Mainly those processes that a company uses to send documents designed to elicit a reaction or response. The communication channel used is irrelevant. These types of documents include business reply cards, contracts, policies, or meter readings.

2. Roadblocks: What do you think are the primary technological roadblocks to combining input and output management?

Ingrained business and IT processes that evolved over many years. Typically the products/solutions available come from specialists in input management (scanners/OCR services) or output management (OMS solutions). When processes were set up in the past, projects and solutions did not span departments. Before input and output processes can be combined, processes generally need to be standardized.

3. Requirements: What requirements must systems meet in order to form a control loop that serves a comprehensive strategic concept?

The ideal system is one that controls and monitors all the input and output channels. Furthermore, the plethora of data sources and data sinks in a company need to be reduced and standardized. That is the only way to successfully cope with the ever-growing number of communications channels in future years.

In general, process workflows in the company systems must lend themselves to conversion.

4. Standardization and normalization: Do you think it wise or even necessary to standardize or normalize input and output processes to effectuate a control loop?

Standardization makes sense up to a certain point. Standardized processes allow producers of software solutions to build compact solutions that are easier to manage and maintain day to day.

However, experience has also shown that integrating an input or output management system must address the topic of customizing. Process workflows in an enterprise do differ considerably in the details.

A reasonable approach is partial standardization.

5. Controlling system: Does the issue of the controlling system need to be addressed (input, ECM, ERP, BPM, output)? Does it matter which system takes the lead?

There is no pat answer to this question. Systems are usually not built on undeveloped turf. The choice of leading system requires a thorough analysis of the current state of the system and process landscape.

Input and output management systems must have interfaces to the company’s ERP and CRM systems. The status of all communications with the end-customer over any channel must be accessible through the CRM system.


In conclusion: Compart has many years of experience in the field of output management. Our solutions and products are used in numerous areas of output and document management. Compart solutions can archive, prepare for print and dispatch, and digitally distribute documents via e-mail, De-Mail, or E-Postbrief, and manage and control dependencies between channels. Compart’s wealth of successful global projects has given rise to products and solutions with standard interfaces.