Companies House is an executive agency of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Its main role is to incorporate and dissolve limited companies, examine and store company information, and make this information available to the public. On average, around 5,000 sets of accounts are filed electronically with Companies House each day, and therefore automating document processes is crucial as it transforms into a fully digital organization.
Companies House handles a large amount of paper on a daily basis. Whether that is filing an annual return, filing a company account or simply changing a company’s details, much of this information is still received in a paper-based format. As a result, this can cause bottlenecks, delays in responding and inefficiencies throughout the organization. Tackling this problem so that all documents are handled electronically became an important and strategic endeavour for Companies House.
Initially, Companies House looked at a number of different technology options, from developing the software from scratch internally to using applications from free libraries. The team also investigated other commercial offerings before settling on ABBYY. Ultimately, Companies House chose
ABBYY FlexiCapture to automate its paper-based business processes and reduce the high volume of paper it currently handles.
“We needed a flexible solution that could easily integrate with our existing core systems and that gave a high recognition rate,” explained Allen. “The ABBYY solution came with various pre-built tools and utilities that allowed easy 'zoning' of the forms and the ability to define a template. This was the main reason why we chose to work with ABBYY.”
“We have also built an application for barcode identification to speed up the workflow process. Once a document is scanned into the system, the reader delegates the task to the appropriate department for handling, and archives the file on our servers, saving us both time and money by reducing admin-intensive tasks.”
As a result of the integration, staff at Companies House are now able to extract data from forms and documents and directly embed the information into workflows to automate, separate and classify documents quickly. The FlexiCapture solution is particularly beneficial for large organizations such as Companies House, and other public sector bodies that work with huge volumes of documents.
The solution has provided a cost-effective way to process forms and put semi-structured and unstructured documents into one stream — including document classification, data verification and exporting for backend processing and archiving. It enables data capture to be integrated seamlessly into developer applications, so that full control is maintained over document processing, extracted data and document routing. “Initially, this was an experiment but the prototype of using the ABBYY FlexiCapture Server has been so successful, that we plan to continue to use it and expand the number and type of forms that we can process in this way,” explained Carl Allen.
“Of course the main benefit is that there is a greatly reduced volume of paper moving around the building. This is helping to reduce the amount of paper we handle, as we slowly ramp up the forms we process. We have deliberately operated a 'creep and go' process so that we can iron out any of the process is-sues on the business sections along the way, before we start processing all of the remaining paper,” he added.