Document Scanning Greatest Invention

December 10, 2012

In 1976, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was invented and commercialized by Raymond Kursweil as a software tool to convert the printed word into data characters. Initially, the invention was targeted to benefit the blind and visually impaired population so printed books and text could be converted into text-to-speech applications. Kursweil’s company, Kursweil Computer Products, developed the initial products for the document production industry who embraced it mostly to convert reams of paper to digital data. The technology was adopted quickly by those who needed to edit original text which was only in “printed page” form.

Early commercial systems using the Kursweil invention were developed to combine automatic document feeding scanners (another great invention for document scanning) with the OCR recognition software. The marriage of the Kursweil invention and Xerox produced the Xerox Kurzweil K-5000 in 1988, one of the first commercial high-speed scanner and OCR text conversion systems. Statco was an early adopter of this technology and acquired this system in 1989. In the early 1990’s we scanned and converted thousands of legal and other documents into MS Word and WordPerfect files at over $1 per page. Today, the same service is delivered at $0.05 per page.

The quality of the OCR conversion technology between 1990 and today has improved substantially. In the beginning, the accuracy of the characters depended on the quality and clarity of the pages scanned, plus the ability of the technology to “match” defined character fonts printed on the page. This process might accurately convert only 65%-80% of the printed characters on each page. In 1990, this was a better option than re-typing the entire page into a word processing program but today the OCR accuracy is 85% – 95+%.

The other incredible application of OCR technology is converting information from repetitive data forms into structured databases. Medical claim forms, payment vouchers, surveys and other forms are scanned and processed using pre-defined data field locations on a printed page and mapped to data base fields in a file. This data capture methodology is a very efficient use of OCR technology since only portions of the printed page is processed for the target data fields.  

The invention of OCR technology has exploded the access to legacy document content using broad reaching “search” applications over internet and intranet networks. The delivery of this content to the mass population would have been almost impossible without OCR technology.


Welcome Back!

November 14, 2012

Statco is a client driven services company which prides itself on serving its long standing customers over the past 50+ years. Sometimes, unfortunately, these client requirements change and service separation occurs.  Every business feels a sense of disappointment when a customer makes a decision to make a change which disengages your services. The list of reasons for these departures can be many but usually are categorized by price, quality and availability. If any of these elements change from the original offering many times a customer looks for an alternative to your service or product offering.

Statco often uses this opportunity for service evaluation and improvement through dialog with the client and many times the client will return.  Statco has experienced the “Welcome Back” of former clients and it is one of the most satisfying pleasures in business.

This month Statco is pleased to “Welcome Back”:

The University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea ®.

  • This program tried an internal pilot program to convert student contact information forms using internal staff. The pilot revealed that the Statco offerings provided faster and more accurate information to their recruiting database while maintaining an acceptable return on their cost investment.

The Railroad Commission of Texas

  • A new opportunity for outsourcing forms conversion became available through the retirement of a staff member. Statco was invited to competitively bid among all data entry providers in the local market. Our prior experience and excellent service history with the Railroad Commission, along with competitive pricing was the primary basis of this award.

Am I too small For BPO?

September 26, 2012

     Organizations of all sizes can benefit from outsourcing certain routine and non-routine processing functions. As I have discussed before, payroll processing is the most popular but should not be the only business process considered for outsourcing. It is not essential that an entire business process be outsourced. Many firms identify partial sub-processes of a larger process which can be performed more efficiently by a BPO provider.  Customer relationship management (CRM), product warranty management and back office accounting are a few areas where sub processes can be identified for outsourcing. 

     In CRM applications, certain events occur which create needs to update customer information from returned contact management mailings and emails. These transactions can be systematically routed to a BPO provider for updating in order to maintain accurate customer databases. Initial product warranty information data can be routed to providers to create customer warranty records in a timely manner. Even the employee time record capture process related to payroll functions can be off-loaded to outsourcing providers to meet tight time turn-around requirements on a routine basis. 

     The benefits of outsourcing these partial processes are similar to those of those larger business processes.

1.     Lower personnel and processing costs

2.     Depth of resources when volume requirements rise and fall

3.     Consistency of task process quality

4.     Timeliness of service process delivery

The key to a successful outsourcing function is specifically defining the details of the processes required. Documentation of the tasks involved including rules and exceptions are necessary so each organization knows where their particular responsibility lies inside the entire business process. Many times the knowledge shared by both organizations will contribute to the overall efficiency of the outsourced function and the entire business process.


How old is business process outsourcing?

August 2, 2012

One of the oldest accounts of business process outsourcing was in 1949, when a young accountant started a company in New Jersey that would manually process and type payroll checks for businesses.  In the 1960’s the mainframe computer arrived and outsourcing of payroll processing became popular to organizations that had more employees and payroll checks than could be physically typed or written by a person in a day or even a week.  An entire accounting division of employees might be staffed for this task inside large companies.  Payroll processing was one of the first critical, non-core business processes outsourced by companies and, for the first time, size of the employer organization did not matter. Almost every independent computer service bureau had a payroll software system and offered payroll processing services to all sizes of employer organizations. To this day payroll processing is still the single most outsourced business process.

One of the earliest examples of business process outsourcing I remember was a passenger airline company in the 1970’s. The airline company was outsourcing the data entry of ticket and traveler information to a company in Barbados. Since this information supported “after travel” information to the airline company, it was thought to be “non-critical” to the business of operating an airline. Quickly, this process became elevated to a more critical business component for the company’s accounting (matching sold tickets to used tickets) and marketing (frequent flyer) processes. Eventually the Barbados company was acquired by the airline and managed as a core business process. The Barbados operation was so good at this business process it became a separate operating division of the airline and a “specialized service provider” to the airline travel industry for other companies. In the 1980’s, when the phenomenon of “over-night” package delivery arrived on the business landscape, the Barbados division became the outsource provider to these delivery companies to enter customer air bill receipt information.

Many years ago only the largest of companies outsourced any of their processes; and when they did it was for non-critical tasks (printing, delivery & cleaning services), highly specialized services (tele-communications, computer systems) or mostly processes unrelated to their core business. Today,  a business can even find an outsource provider which specializes in mission-critical processes like inventory management, order processing, accounts receivable and accounts payable.

Am I Too Small for Business Process Outsourcing?

The short answer is probably not…


Statco Expands its “Best of Both Shores” Strategy in 2012

March 5, 2012

In 2011 Statco piloted a “Best of Both Shores” strategy in several data-conversion projects.  Recognizing the need to deliver timely, accurate, and cost-effective data conversion options for our clients, Statco has partnered with various global resources to deliver services at lower than expected prices. This concept enabled us to deliver results beyond the client’s expectations.

As the Statco Team analyzes project requirements and evaluates the source data converted, technology and labor options are identified. Technology options are considered first in order to reduce the amount of manual labor required to complete the data conversion and processing. This process might only include imaging the source documents for staging the conversion process or expand into barcode recognition and OCR text conversion. When these processes cannot complete the data conversion requirements, manual data entry is required to complete the conversion process. This is where the “Best of Both Shores” strategy is deployed.

The type and format of original data to be converted is evaluated as to its appropriateness for different labor sources and their related expertise. This evaluation includes: handwritten verses machine printed, as well as sensitive verses benign data content. Timeliness of converted data delivery verses cost of labor source is reviewed against project requirements and budget.  Some factors which may affect the selected labor shore include same day turn-around of converted data, variable formatted documents, handwritten source documents, and interpretation of language content.

In all cases the quality control of converted data and management of the conversion project is performed by Statco’s U.S. based team members. This team also provides the best communication solution for the client during the data conversion project.


Thank You, 2011!

December 30, 2011

2011 is wrapping up and it has been another prosperous year for Statco! Our data entry, indexing, data-capture and document scanning operations continue to expand into new service offerings for our clients, both old and new.

USA Training (www.usatraining.com), one of our longest-standing clients, celebrated their 30th anniversary this year. Statco is honored to have provided our services to them for 15 of those years! Congratulations to USA Training for their success, we look forward to our continued partnership in the years to come!

The University of California-San Francisco (www.ucsf.edu) and The University of Texas-Austin (www.utexas.edu) have expanded their use of Statco’s survey data-capture services in 2011. This year our survey processing for government and university research organizations grew substantially! Statco has provided data-capture solutions for researchers for over 50 years and we understand the goals of these clients. Our services allow our clients to meet their grant reporting and delivery requirements on-time and under budget!

This year we welcome Academy Sports + Outdoors (www.academy.com) and Whole Foods Market (www.wholefoods.com) to our growing list of clients. They will benefit from our accurate data-capture and timely processing of their customer contact information, which allows them the ability to establish communication with their customers quicker.


Cookies in the oven and U.S. students receive millions for special school projects

December 21, 2010

This fall students across the country raised millions of dollars for school sponsored programs through a unique fundraising program — selling ready to bake cookie dough. Statco was very pleased to provide the data processing support needed to process orders from students for Otis Spunkmeyer’s cookie dough and other products.

Statco provided support in preparing and reviewing the order forms for data entry, order processing, document scanning, producing statistical reports and information for student awards. With all this, school event sponsors were able to access and receive order reports to help them easily pick up the student’s orders on distribution day. Also, sponsors received statistical report documents through an on-line document management system.

Between September and November the program covered 450+ elementary, middle, high school fundraising events for various PTA, PTO, athletic, music and service organizations.  Over 58,000 students participated in these school sponsored events and they raised over $2.8 million for their organization’s projects.

Statco processed all order forms within 24 hours of receipt and delivered product order transaction files to Otis Spunkmeyer’s supply chain system electronically – the same day. Both sales forces for the school sponsors and Otis Spunkmeyer received order form images, detailed and summary statistical reports in 48 hours via a web-based document management system.

Otis Spunkmeyer and Statco are excited about the results of the fall 2010 fundraising event season for all the participating schools and students. We anticipate continued success for the Spring and Fall 2011 seasons. For more information on how your service organization can benefit from Otis Spunkmeyer products visit their fundraising page. If you like to see how Statco might help solve some data processing requirements of your company, please see our web site.