ActivePDF Blog

Documents to Records: Automate in Minutes

The subject of converting documents to records may sound like a fairly generic subject. However, as a server-based software company specializing in PDF manipulation, ActivePDF understands the value and significance of programmatically moving documents to records within a business management workflow process. In this blog, we discuss the importance of converting documents to records and how to accomplish the task quickly, efficiently and hassle-free.

What’s a Document?
First of all, what are we talking about when discussing documents? According to ActivePDF CEO and Chief Architect Tim Sullivan, “A document is a living, breathing electronic or physical composition of data that becomes fixed at a given point in time.”

Examples of documents:

  • Contracts
  • Purchase orders
  • Emails/Memos
  • Loan applications
  • Employee manuals
  • Financial statements

What’s a Record?
A record is self-contained, classifiable, validation that content has not changed, and a non-repudiation of who created it and when it was created. We again turn to Tim Sullivan – “A record is the authentic, inclusive and standalone preservation of a document at a particular point in time.”

Examples of records in action:

  • Student transcripts
  • License agreements
  • H1B visa applications
  • Pharmaceutical drug test results
  • Invoices

A simple document-to-record usually means one record to one document. A complex document-to-record includes multiple documents and possibly other records. A license agreement is a good example of a complex document-to-record. While the end result is a signed agreement, it may have started out as a simple email negotiation. From there, it could have progressed to multiple drafts of the agreement, then to a final agreement.

Compiling a record from all of these documents is vital, especially if there is a contract dispute down the road. If the terms of the contract were based on discussions that took place leading up to the final contract, the spirit of the contract will be investigated and not just the letter of the contract itself. Now, you see why having a firm record of the discussions is an important business practice.

Converting Documents to Records
So, how do we convert all of these documents into a record? First start by converting files to PDF/A, which gives an accurate, reproducible visual representation of documents. ActivePDF DocConverter is an excellent tool to use because of its ability to output at a high volume to and from PDF/A with superior fidelity and consistent reproduction. Also, as a reputable Word-to-PDF conversion tool, DocConverter is a smart choice since most documents originate as Word files.

Once you convert to PDF/A, you can add attachments, embed supported documents, records or other data; also include or append metadata for identification, taxonomy and record references. Records can then be digitally signed to help with alteration detection and non-repudiation of the creator’s identity or date/time of creation.

Another helpful tool in your documents-to-records conversion is ActivePDF Meridian, which gives you the ability to print to PDF from most supported applications. On the backend, just specify what you want your documents to look like. If it’s PDF/A compliance or PDF/X compliance for example, Meridian will grab it, convert on the backend and round-trip your documents to the desktop.

Recap Documents-to-Record in 5 Steps:

  1. Generate the PDF
  2. Add supporting files or embed attachments (preferably if PDF/A-2 or 3, otherwise you may have to reference to other documents)
  3. Batch convert directories to PDF/A
  4. Insert or append metadata – Include author, creator, producer, creation/modification date, document ID
  5. Digitally sign your PDF/A file

Document-to-Record Quick Tips

  • As you’re developing your workflow, double check your work through continuous preflight. You don’t want to get all the way to the end only to find out that your file doesn’t support PDF/A or Adobe eliminated or changed a function you were depending on.
  • Are fonts embedded? If needed, obtain the same fonts to replace missing fonts and always develop a font-substitution strategy.
  • Regardless of the type of PDF printer you are using, make sure it’s consistent within your organization – That way you will be assured to get reproducible results. 
  • Remember that many of the open-source converters out there do not support PDF/A, so check that out in advance.
  •  Does your OCR stack up? There are plenty of OCR vendors out there, so make sure your OCR is of high-quality. Also, keep an eye out for the release of DocSight OCR by ActivePDF, a reliable, high-volume OCR software for enterprise businesses.

Learn more about how ActivePDF can help digitalize your business. See which product works best for you by using our Product Finder, use our online contact form, or call to speak to one of our knowledgeable team members directly (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., PST) at 866-468-6733.

Posted: 6/7/2017
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