Optical character recognition (OCR) software: where it is applicable and what it is characterized by

Nowadays, when we are part of a continuous flow of information, the facilitation of the work process thanks to software solutions is highly valued. Platforms like https://smart-soft.net are a shortcut to the optimized process of extracting and analyzing the received information in the form of invoices, contracts, bills of lading and other types of forms that are clearly structured or unstructured.

Their purpose is to help us streamline every stage of working with documents and in particular with those that have specific content. OCR and fixed-form processing software is part of the fabric of many businesses. why is this so? It’s very simple – the application turns the challenging tasks of working with documents into an enjoyable endeavor that also saves time. You will find out more about the topic in the following lines.

Definition and overview of OCR and fixed forms

invoice automation

Our daily life is such that we often have to fill in documents with different structures. In order to navigate this whole data extraction mess more easily, we can simply take advantage of software solutions like those from Smart Soft. With their help, we can significantly streamline the process of extracting the information we need, followed by its processing. Optical character recognition (OCR) is the technology that can successfully handle such tasks without making mistakes in the process.

Intelligent data capture is applicable to documents such as questionnaires and applications, surveys, medical claims documents, bills of lading, etc. Usually, such media are found exclusively in the industrial sector, but are also frequently used in many other areas of development. The characteristic of all of them is that the fields for persuasion of information are defined, that is, most documents are of the same type, which makes them an ideal object for automatic processing.

However, do not underestimate the structure of this kind of document – it is trivial at first glance, but certainly not 100% predictable. This makes automatic processing a process during which it is quite possible that some challenges will appear. About them will the article, and now let’s pay a little more attention to the types of fixed forms and which are defined as -favorable for automatic processing.

What types of fixed forms are there and can they be subject to automatic processing?

As we have already said, automatic processing of fixed shapes is not quite simple. On the one hand it is important to take into account their structure and on the other to pay attention to how susceptible they are to optical character recognition. The types of fixed forms are as follows:

  • documents with a clear structure – their name implies that they have a clearly defined format, making them easy to process automatically. Examples of such forms are insurance claims, tax documents, standard layout tests, etc. what they have in common is that the information carriers of the same type have an identical structure, which makes them among the documents that are ideal for automatic processing;
  • semi-structured information carriers – if you’re wondering who they are, think of the bills of lading and invoices used in trade and manufacturing. Where’s the catch? Well, even if the invoices are received from the same sender, it is very possible that the fields to fill in the document are not in the same place every time. In addition, it is possible that the total number of rows is different, which is the reason for the migration to other pages;
  • forms that are unstructured – reports, contracts and letters are a worthy representative of this type of documents, which are distinguished by a text layout that varies significantly from case to case. In this case, there is no specific structure that makes the information carrier predictable and easy to automatically process.

Smart Soft’s software solutions are designed to be used in all three types of documents mentioned above. Even though mild to serious challenges may occur, information processing could be extremely successful, and this could lead to a number of dividends for the company.

What are the possible challenges in using software to extract information from fixed forms?

It is good to also say what challenges we might encounter in the course of optical sign recognition. This will give us additional clarity about the whole process – fixed shapes may seem easy to analyze, but at a later stage turn out to be something different. Among the likely difficulties are incoming documents of varying print quality. If it is not very good, difficulties may arise in retrieving information.

Fill-in-the-blank methods can also hinder successful optical character recognition – if, for example, the check mark goes outside the box outline, this can make it difficult to find the information. Let’s not forget about the quality of the received image – if the documents are compressed in order to save space, this may reflect on some details, and respectively on the optical reading of data.