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Paperless software solution

Posted on 2013-11-12
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I am looking for a Paperless Document Management Solution for a Propane (Trucking and Fill Station) company.  They need to scan in Invoices and receipts with customer signatures and keep records for 7 years.

Any suggestions Experts?

Thanks
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Question by:trinle
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by:Shaik M. Sajid
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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A couple of questions for you:

(1) "Invoices": Do you mean AP or AR invoices? Or both? If AR, is this a different document from the receipt that they give to the customer to sign?

(2) "receipts with customer signatures": To be clear, are you saying that they print a receipt at the point of sale, give it to the customer to sign, and then they want to scan back in the signed receipt?

Regards, Joe
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by:trinle
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Thanks for replying Joewinograd.  I asked for clarification from the boss but got nothing thus far....

Here is what I understand: We print a multi-part invoice for the customer to sign.  We give the customer a copy and keep one for ourselves.

We want to scan in the signed Invoice/Receipt and kept for possible retrieval years later.

I will ask the boss for more clarification as to the needs and reply back ASAP.

Thanks.
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by:trinle
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Interesting information shaiksaj... Thanks for the Link!
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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> We want to scan in the signed Invoice/Receipt and kept for possible retrieval years later.

OK, if that's the requirement, then you may want to consider a different approach. Since you already have the structured data in the system (customer name/number, date, items purchased, quantity, unit price, extended price, etc.), all you really need is the customer signature. So instead of having to scan back in the signed receipts, you may want to look into a signature capture system that uses a signature pad and associated software. I have no personal experience with these, so can't vouch for any particular system, but a web search for "signature capture system" turns up plenty of hits, including this one that looks good to me:
http://www.topazsystems.com/

You'll need to perform your own due diligence on these systems, and you may want to open a new question here are at EE asking for feedback from members who have implemented such systems.

But if you and/or the boss do not like the signature capture idea, and really want to scan back in the signed receipts, then the recommended solution will be largely based on volume (receipts, users, locations). Here are the questions that need to be answered:

(1) How many users will be retrieving documents?

(2) How many users/locations will be scanning documents?

(3) How many receipts per day? Are there multiple locations? If so, need to know the number of receipts by location.

(4) Are the receipts single-sided or double-sided? In other words, would a duplex scanner be helpful?

(5) Are the receipts all (or mostly) black and white? In other words, is color scanning needed?

(6) What size are the receipts? I assume they're all the same size, but if not, are they letter size? Any small/odd-size docs? Or large ones?

(7) Do you already have a scanner (or multiple scanners)? If so, what makes/models? If not, is selecting a scanner part of this project? If so, how many? This answer is related to how many locations you have and the volume of receipts at each location.

(8) What is the budget for the project? It doesn't have to be exact, but it's important to know approximately how much money the boss is willing to spend on hardware, software, and services to implement the solution.

Answers to these questions will get us started on the path to recommendations. Regards, Joe
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by:trinle
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Joe,

Here is the latest from the boss.  It gives a little more focus on what the company is looking to have happen.  This may answer or cause a change in some of your questions:

"We would like to have a mobile device (laptop/tablet) that has preloaded electronic versions of our new account paperwork that can be filled out via the device (account application, rental contracts, and acknowledgement of safety forms received, and internal office forms used in the service field. If the customer chooses to retain a paper copy or their contract and application we want the option to print a copy for them on location.

Once serviceman returns to yard we would like to download and save pdf’s/documents to electronic customer files vs. physical paper files and filing cabinets. Thus eliminating the paper expense, labor to scan, file, and then shred the physical file and the storage space needed to accommodate our ever growing file cabinets.

This is the paperless option we have been brain storming, as we have addressed the invoice retention with scanning the original truck delivery invoices with the Neat scanner and saving the electronic batches on the File Server for future reference vs. a physical paper storage cabinet."

I am looking forward to your comments!  Thanks...
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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I'm tied up today and won't be able to review this thoroughly until Wednesday or maybe even later in the week. But based on a quick read, it really is a completely different question. The original question was about scanning in a document with a signature and storing it; the new question is about deploying a forms/PDF-based solution, with a significant workflow component, to replace a current paper-based process. Different beast! Regards, Joe
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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Hi trinle,
Sorry for the delay on this...been consumed with family events for Thanksgiving, including pre- and post- activities. Things should return to some degree of normalcy this week and I'll get to this issue as soon as I can. Regards, Joe
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by:trinle
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Sorry about the Bait and Switch on the questions....  The first attempt was my trying to interrupt the bosses intentions, the second was directly from them....

No Problem on the delay, I understand.

regards,
Dave
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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Dave,
Thanks for understanding. Things are just beginning to return to normal. This issue is on my to-do list for tomorrow. Regards, Joe
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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Dave,
The latest from the boss is helpful in understanding the requirements, but my critical question #8 – BUDGET! – was not mentioned. Do you have an approximation or even a broad range on what he is willing to spend? Regards, Joe
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by:trinle
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Joe,

I posses the question and am still waiting for an answer?  His initial response was $5, lol.

I will pin him down on a $number$ and let you know.

Thanks, Dave
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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> His initial response was $5, lol.

I've heard that before! :)
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by:trinle
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He won't give me a number!  I don't think he has any idea what it would cost.  I know, he isn't afraid to spend money so I think if the solution is a good one, he will cough up the money to implement.

When I deal with people like this I usually offer then different options with prices with the strengths and weaknesses of each option.  I think this would be the best approach for him.

Thanks Joe.
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
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I've had no personal experience with tablet-based, e-forms systems. Here's an article that discusses how the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program (IDCRP) implemented such a system:
http://www.binaryoffice.com/news-and-resources/paper-automation-news/automate-paper-forms/how-idcrp-used-tablets-electronic-forms-to-eliminate-manual-data-entry/

There's also an offer to download the case study for it:
http://marketing.binaryoffice.com/acton/form/2236/0005:d-0002/0/index.htm

Note that these are by the vendor, so be wary of bias.

I did some due diligence about a year ago on Formatta:
http://www.formatta.com/

I was very impressed with their company and products, and almost did a deal with them to become a Partner. For a variety of reasons I did not go through with it, but it wasn't because of company or product shortcomings, so I definitely think you should put them on your short list.

Let's hope some other experts jump in...those with experience deploying tablet-based, e-forms systems. If that doesn't happen, then all I can suggest is researching it on the web. For starters, take a look at these two companies that rank highly on a "tablet eforms systems" search:
http://www.eformsfactory.com/
http://www.mi-corporation.com/

Good luck on the project! Regards, Joe
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Author Closing Comment

by:trinle
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Joe,

Thanks for all your help and quick responses. You gave me some good ideas.

Cheers,
Dave
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
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Dave,
You're very welcome! It sounds like a fascinating project...as long as you can get the boss to part with some money. :)   If you get a moment, please post back here with some comments on what direction you went and how well it worked out for you. Regards, Joe
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