IDR: Is it right for you?

By Aaron Bauman posted 10-03-2013 14:46


In today’s increasingly complex business environment, companies, government agencies and other organizations stand to gain a greater advantage when they can capitalize on and best leverage information. Knowledge is power.  When it comes to forms and documents, as a large repository of that data, the ultimate goal is to streamline processing and move critical information into business processes quicker and with greater accuracy.


Intelligent Document Recognition (IDR) is one type of technology being employed to increase productivity and reduce costs. IDR allows organizations to reduce manual data entry; automate data capture from documents and data types, and employ solutions that are easy to implement, affordable, fast and scalable. IDR solutions can range from simple to complex, and have advanced significantly in the past few years, to address diverse processing needs based on form structure, data type, document classification, business rules, workflows and application integration requirements.


How do you know if IDR is a good fit for your organization?  And which type of IDR software is the best fit for you?


IDR is comprised of four major functions:

·      Capture – document content is scanned and digitized to ‘capture’ all the data for processing.

·      Classification – documents are classified based on document layout, presence of images or logos, regions of data, presence of keywords or patterns, and the content itself.

·      Recognition – using OCR (or Optical Character Recognition) to convert printed characters or machine text into digital files; ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) a step above the former, to read constrained handprint, including printed characters in a form, box or other document limitations, and handprint, including cursive, barcodes, and more.  Even one step higher is “advanced” ICR, a more sophisticated technology that interprets the patterns of human writing, unique to each individual and reads unconstrained handprint and any other type of handwriting, including cursive. Some IDR software can also perform optical mark recognition (or OMR) to capture human-marked data from document forms such as surveys and tests.

·      Validation – recognition quality that falls beneath a certain threshold is verified or corrected by keyers. This can be achieved on a per-page basis, or more securely with field-level validation.


IDR can be used to capture information from documents that are structured, semi-structured, unstructured or a combination thereof.

·      Structured documents provide data in a uniform manner and tend to be transactional, such as with health claim applications for Medicare/Medicaid or tax returns.

·      Semi-structured forms have elements of structured forms in that they include uniform data but also have structure variance based on the organization and its needs. Organizations use semi-structured forms to create and manage their own form layout for documents such as checks, invoices, purchase orders, policies and others that require customization or tables of varying length.

·      Unstructured documents are not represented in a pre-determined form but have data that must be captured for processing. Examples include customer correspondence by letter or email, contracts, doctors’ notes, patient records, manuscripts, court records, video, images and more. Most provide context for a transaction – for example, a customer complaint.


The IDR software that is best for your organization depends on your specific needs to address the types of documents and information above.   Additionally, those involved in the decision-making process should assess:

o   What is the cost of capturing all of the types of documents and information that I need to address?

o   Am I able to process structured, semi structured and unstructured forms in a single workflow?

o   Is it easy to classify and configure document types/classes and workflows without having to move through multiple applications or user interfaces?

o   Will I have easy and comprehensive access to results and statistics?

o   Am I able to easily validate the accuracy of data?

o   Can I make sure information will be kept confidential with data redaction and/or assignment capability to limit access to specific data reviewers?


For those organizations with high document processing requirements, IDR can save time and money and offer access to critical information. To adequately evaluate IDR and implementation solutions, it is important to assess current and projected processing requirements and evaluate software functionality accordingly.



Aaron Bauman is from Parascript, online at  For more information, please see Parascript’s white paper, Intelligent Document Recognition (IDR) – Advanced Technology for Increased Productivity:



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