Our fourth chapter in the “Best Practices for Managing Unstructured Data” blog series will focus on the definition of handwritten documents. Be sure to read the other chapters on the solutions and best practices regarding managing and extracting data, which can be accessed at the bottom of this post.
Although PDF forms and web forms have simplified the collection and organization of data, the majority of paper forms are still completed by hand. In fact, in the business-to-business area, the passing of the typewriter has made this worse! The legacy requirement in many businesses for wet-ink signatures merely adds to the prevalence of paper-based, handwritten forms.
Forms are generally littered with other handwritten fields for name and address, numerical, and text data. In many cases, these forms contain free-text or open-ended comment fields. These can often contain the most critical information that directly impacts customer satisfaction. For example, a note in the margin that references a previous history or extenuating circumstances surrounding the information that is being shared in the document. Disregarding these comments will always lead to frustration by your customers.
Software-based solutions will work well only on forms with constrained boxes that have a single letter in each box on the form. In cases like checks, where the dictionary of terms falls only into numbers, there is a much higher chance of handwriting recognition success.
Fortunately, the Mortgage and Title industry has realized this challenge and taken steps to move away from paper-based forms. Many organizations have substituted these with online applications or PDF forms. Those trying to capture the legacy handwritten information from images, however, still will likely have to fall back on manual processes to effectively capture this information.
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