Many businesses struggle with getting paper-based information into the electronic workflows that are enabled by Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Access and SQL Server. By using document imaging software and multifunction peripherals, knowledge workers can seamlessly and securely integrate paper documents into the electronic workflow. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Ed White explains what IT professionals should know when integrating document imaging software with Microsoft applications.
it comes to moving, sharing and managing information throughout the
enterprise, Microsoft's Exchange, SharePoint and database applications
are core to the fabric of business operations. But many businesses
struggle with getting the information that is on paper into the
electronic workflows that are enabled by these Microsoft business
applications. The best way to address this challenge is by allowing
knowledge workers to scan, store, distribute and share paper documents
the same way they handle electronic files at their desktop.
The scanning devices most readily available to accomplish this task
are multifunction peripherals (MFPs) or copiers. Already used by
knowledge workers for printing, copying and faxing, MFPs can be used by
anyone in the enterprise to add paper-based documents into business
workflows by simply scanning them to a Microsoft application.
There are two problems with this, though. First, Microsoft
business applications do not include native support for MFP scanning.
Second, MFPs bring additional challenges from an administration and
training perspective. Therefore, third-party applications are needed to
bridge this gap and add the needed capability. Let's examine some key
considerations for enterprise IT professionals to keep in mind when
integrating MFP document imaging software with Microsoft
Improving business communications with Microsoft Exchange
Today, companies rely on e-mail applications such as Exchange and
Outlook to get business done. It is difficult to imagine a business
today without e-mail, as it facilitates collaboration between
employees, partners, customers and other stakeholders. Document imaging
software can provide this means for paper-based information directly
from the MFP.
To be effective, document imaging software must support the same
capabilities provided by Outlook on the desktop at the document capture
device. These capabilities include the ability to send mail from the
authenticated user's personal Exchange account, automatically deliver a
copy to the user's Sent Items folder, provide access to the Global
Address list, and provide access to the user's personal contacts and
A major issue for IT is that there is no such thing as a "standard"
Exchange environment. At one end is a small business environment, where
a single server may host Active Directory and Exchange. On the other
end of the scale are complex, multiforest environments. Check that any
document imaging software considered is flexible enough to handle the
requirements of your environment.
Expanding information available through Microsoft SharePoint
Microsoft SharePoint has had a significant impact on how companies
look to manage their business. It's popular due to many factors,
including its cost of entry, usability and its ability to be extended
to incorporate virtually any content and application into an
organization's business processes.
SharePoint allows organizations to set up electronic workflows, but
most still find paper-based information a necessary part of business
processes. This creates an awareness of a "paper problem" or the slow,
manual process working in parallel with a SharePoint workflow that's
moving at Internet speed.
In today's economy, companies seek to avoid dedicated resources for
scanning. Adding document scanning capabilities that are easy for any
information worker to use enables the most appropriate individual to
capture the document at the most appropriate point in the workflow. It
also allows information to be captured more quickly and reliably into
SharePoint, where the entire organization can maximize the value of