London, UK / June 9, 2011 -- Scanning in itself should not be seen as a universal panacea for business process issues, explains Colin Gray, MD of DDC Outsourcing Solutions, to DM Editor Dave Tyler ever actually 'leaving the country.
David Tyler: Can you begin by giving our readers some background on DDC Outsourcing Solutions itself, in terms of its history and where you are now?
Colin Gray: The company was established back in 1987, and even then the focus was very much on data capture-though in those days it was essentially teams of people keying data from paper into data entry terminals. We actually still do some of that sort of business, but of course the industry has changed a lot since those days. We've ridden along with changes in technology and also in areas like off-shoring, of course, and grown along the way. The DDC Group focuses on BPO-type activities, and the 'engine room' of the whole group is the off-shore operation in the Philippines, where we have over 3,000 full time employees undertaking all sorts of back office processing work on behalf of clients, from data capture through finance and accounting, to medical and engineering abstracting. Here in the UK our offering is a hybrid on/off-shore model: some clients have business or political reasons why they prefer not to use off-shore services, of course. Whether on-shore or off-shore, outsourcing offers more than just cost benefits: there are usually quality and speed of turnaround benefits to be had as well. We offer in-house scanning here, as well as manual keying from paper or from image, or we can scan documents and send them off-shore on behalf of clients. In some cases the client may prefer to do their own scanning and either send them to our off-shore operation or give them access to the images, without the images
DT: Is there a specific type of business or organisation for whom your service offerings are particularly suited, or can outsourcing be appropriate across the board'?
CG: There is a wide variety of clients who choose to use our services: government agencies, financial services organisations, data processing businesses, research firms, and many more. Where appropriate, we offer automated capture via OCR!OMR, where we use recognition technologies to interpret at least some of the data on a form -obviously some form types and document types lend themselves better than others to automated capture. A lot of potential users might initially see automated data capture as the option to aim for, as they see it as quick, cheap and accurate. In some cases it can be, but very often it's not the optimum solution, because of the type of document being processed. Often an off-shore approach using a combination of capture software and keying can be far more cost-effective and give higher quality results than an OCR!OMR-based solution. The key thing for us is to ensure that we are adding value for our customers, and that we're not just competing in a commoditised market of scan-to-archive. For that reason the focus of our business is not on scanning per se. It is usually a means to an end: the first stage in a process of extracting valuable information from our customers documents and inputting it into their databases where good use can be made of it.
DT: So your approach as an organisation is far more focused on adding value to business processes, as opposed to simply introducing a technology 'point solution' to a requirement? CG: Absolutely: even with automated forms capture, there is still a need for some degree of manual intervention and validation, in order to achieve the kind of accuracy levels that many of our clients require. The majority of our users, whether government departments or businesses, typically demand capture quality in excess of 98.5%. For double-keyed/verified capture, we'd be looking at more like 99.85% accuracy-even with a very well-designed document, OCR alone probably won't get you much past the low nineties. So there still has to be an element of quality control and manual intervention. Where we really add value is by working closely with the customer to understand the importance of their information and what they want to achieve with that information, and by helping them put in place the right processes and procedures and reporting to help them do it. There's limited value in just lifting out an internal process and replicating it elsewhere, far better to analyse the process and the business, applying our experience to see if we can make it more efficient. So it's not just about 'We have a team of people in the Philippines who can do it cheaper', it's also about introducing knowledge and efficiencies that can improve turnaround times, minimise the room for error, and increase the quality of our customers' data.