Intelligent Document Processing

A Practical Guide to Automated Form Processing

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A Practical Guide to Automated Form Processing

For most high-performing businesses, efficiency is key. And with increasing transactions, processing forms and documents manually has become a major challenge. It’s time we find a better alternative and adopt smarter OCR technologies to automate form processing. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the major industries which regularly need to extract data from different types of forms, and how it can all be automated.

Industries reliant on form data extraction

OCR finds its application in almost every industry, but there are certain sectors that are more data-intensive. Let us look at some of them.

1. Mortgage Lending

Mortgage lending has strict guidelines for paperwork that must be met to satisfy both mortgage insurers and investors. But given the lack of standardization, processing these documents is mostly a manual operation. 

Mortgage lending data extraction

Several of the forms — Form 1003 (industry standard Mortgage Application), Form 710 Fannie Mae (application for mortgage assistance due to financial hardship), and Form 1008 (Uniform Underwriting and Transmittal Summary) are extremely crucial documents for assessing risks related to mortgage lending. And processing these forms manually means a delayed time frame added to the possibility of human errors.

Data extraction solutions, like Docsumo help expedite these processes by extracting and validating data in real-time. This ensures that the documents provided by the borrower are secure and that the data extracted from these documents is actionable, thus automating the mortgage lending process.

2. Tax Returns

Manual data entry is a costly and time-consuming affair, more so during the tax season when thousands of tax documents must be processed in a given time frame. Docsumo’s intelligent document processing capabilities expedite tax form processing and help you put your man-hours to better use. Here are the tax return forms Docsumo can process instantly:

  • Form 1040: Standard form filled by individual taxpayers to file their taxes with IRS. Form 1040 contains information like name, address, SSN, dependents, etc., and determines if the filer would receive a tax refund.
  • Form W-4: Employee’s Withholding Certificate meant to inform employers how much tax to withhold from their paycheck.
  • Form W-9:  Form W-9, also called Request for Taxpayer Identification and Certification, is an official form from the IRS for employers to verify employee credentials.
  • Form 4506-T: Request for Transcript of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T allow you to request transcripts of a tax return filed earlier.
  • Form 941: Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Form 941 is a quarterly report sent to the IRS accounting for withheld federal income tax.
  • Form W-2: Wage and Tax Statement, or Form W-2 reflects your income and FICA taxes withheld from the previous year. 
  • Form 9465: Also called Installment Agreement Request, Form 9465 is filed by taxpayers who can’t pay their taxes all at once and want to set up an instalment plan.
  • Form 1065: IRS Form 1065 is a tax form used by partnerships to report their income, gains, losses, deductions, credits, and other relevant information to the IRS.

Using Docsumo, you can automate the processing of all the above documents in no time and with minimal setup — all the while maintaining accuracy and improving workflow speed.

3. Human Resource Payslips

Handling monthly payslips in an optimized manner is a challenge HR personnel in almost every industry sector face. And this is mostly because the payslips are processed manually. On top of being incredibly tedious, manually handling these salary slips adds to the operational costs of a company. And here’s where Docsumo comes into the picture. 

With its payslip automation API, all fields from payslips, including employer and employee names and addresses, salary period, days/hours worked, gross salary, tax deductions, etc., can be seamlessly extracted with more than 98% accuracy and within 30 seconds.

4. Medical and Healthcare

The present infrastructure for processing medical and healthcare forms manually is inefficient. Data takes hours to be fed into the system in an industry where time is of the essence. This directly adds to your patients’ misery, thereby hurting your bottom line. While traditional OCR has been considered as an alternative solution for text mining, machine translation, and text to speech — it struggles to perform as per expectations in the healthcare sector.

Medical form processing

The medical industry is riddled with duplicative and redundant manual processes which are dependent on organizational data silos. And with everything being data-intensive, achieving digital automation is of the utmost importance. With the help of automation tools, the processing of the following forms can be expedited significantly:

  • DS-1843: Medical History and Examination for Foreign Service (For individuals aged 12 and older)
  • DS-1622: Medical History and Examination for Foreign Service (For individuals aged 11 and under)
  • DS-3057: Medical Clearance Update

5. Insurance

Insurance, like other industries listed above, is paperwork-intensive. Dealing with forms is a part of the daily routine for an insurer. And out of all the forms, we’ve all heard of the ACORD forms. ACORD, or Association for Operations Research and Development, is an international non-profit organization that aims at standardizing insurance forms, getting rid of all the noise and clutter. Nonetheless, copying and entering data from these forms isn’t an enjoyable process, hence the need for a smart OCR.

ACORD forms are available in all formats, including eForms, PDFs, and electronic fillables. Here are some of them:

  • Acord 25 - Certificate of Liability Insurance
  • Acord 80 - Homeowner Application
  • Acord 127 - Business Auto Section
  • Acord 130 - Workers Compensation Application

With Docsumo, Acord forms can be processed in real-time with over 98% accuracy, thereby saving insurance agencies a ton of time, effort, and capital. 

Types of forms for data extraction

We can classify any given form into either the fixed-structured or the unstructured category.

1. Fixed-Structured Forms

Fixed-structured forms follow a strict layout and placement and contain the same type of data on every page. Regardless of whether it’s a single page or a multi-page form, as long as the number of pages remains constant, it falls in the fixed-structured category. These generally consist of special registration fields and have boxes for better data placement.

Example: Registration cards, Surveys, DMV form, etc.

2. Unstructured/Semi-Structured Forms

In semi-structured or unstructured forms, the data is usually similar but its position varies with every form. To that effect, forms can contain multiple pages, with a varying number of pages in every form, depending on the volume of content. Some of the data might be missing too, and other times, it may occupy different spaces, often appearing for more than one instance.

Example: Invoices, Bank statements, etc.

For obvious reasons, setup procedures for unstructured forms can work for fixed-structured forms, but not vice versa, as fixed-structured forms require strict data placement. 

Again, there are certain external factors that might make an originally fixed-structured form more suitable for the unstructured category. Say, a PDF was sent to multiple clients to be printed, filled out, and returned to you - a lot can go wrong. Some users might scale the PDF, printing in different sizes, others may use different printing margins or have varying color intensity, and again, there are going to be glaring differences between the forms that are faxed, scanned, and sent in original.

All these external factors add to the woes of agents responsible for entering data manually or using traditional OCR to scan these documents. But there is a way it can all be automated.

How you can automate form processing

Forms are essential in almost every industry for simplifying daily operations. But since the data in these forms needs to be digitized for further processing, we need a more permanent solution than manual data entry. Here’s how Docsumo’s form processing software facilitates automation:

i) Upload Documents

After signing up on the Docsumo platform, upload the forms on the portal in either image or PDF format. You can choose to drag and drop the documents either directly from your email or the local system.

ii) Edit Fields

Through a combination of reverse image search and neural networks, the entries in the forms are extracted using OCR. The extracted data can be edited manually if required.

iii) Validate Fields

Docsumo leverages NLP, Computer Vision, and advanced Deep Learning to assign each extracted bit of information the right data type. Not only does this help improve the accuracy of value extraction but makes the data ready for consumption directly by third-party APIs or software.

iv) Review and Approve Suggestions

After the entire data extraction and validation process, Docsumo prompts you with a few optional key-value pairs. You can choose to either ignore or accept the prompted suggestions. But as soon as you approve the suggestions, the file is saved.

v) Download CSV/Excel/JSON

Now, your file is ready to be downloaded in CSV, Excel, or JSON format. While CSV works well for contact information and databases, you can either choose Excel for analytics or JSON to send the data to other software. The system can process multiple forms or documents simultaneously — simply select the data you want to capture and leave the rest to Docsumo.

Adopt automation in form processing with Docsumo

As a business, you must constantly be on the lookout for improving your operations. With Docsumo’s Document AI and Intelligent OCR technology, automation drives form processing. Whether it’s insurance forms, tax returns, or mortgage lending — all your high-volume and redundant operations are taken care of with a drastically reduced turnaround time. Request a free demo today!

Suggested Case Study
Automating Portfolio Management for Westland Real Estate Group
The portfolio includes 14,000 units across all divisions across Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Inland Empire.
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Pankaj Tripathi
Written by
Pankaj Tripathi

Helping enterprises capture data for analytics and decisioning

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