Case Study: How Companies House Began Its Digital By Default Transformation

Jan 12, 2015

Companies House, the government agency responsible for incorporating and dissolving limited companies, has taken dramatic steps to reduce paper use and become a digital organisation.

Besides forming and dissolving companies, the organisation examines and store company information, as well as making this data accessible to the public.

Around 5000 sets of accounts are filed electronically each day, making it crucial that document processes are automated as Companies House moves towards the government’s digital by default agenda.


The Business Problem

Traditionally, Companies House used vast amounts of paper on a daily basis. Documents were entering the building and being passed around various departments.

Chris Morgan, senior analyst and programmer at the agency, explained how ineffective a paper based system was.

Firstly, it required time consuming processes of scanning and printing huge reams of documents.

He claimed there was too much risk of damage and loss and it was becoming clear than electronic solution to store documents was required.


Solving The Problem

Companies House began to look around for various software and hardware with capabilities for scanning and character recognition.

The main requirement was a solution that would just do the job of grabbing images and information up front and scanning right away rather than passing paper round the building well.

Morgan explained that many possibilities were considered, including open source, but in the end, it was text recognition and document conversion solutions provider ABBYY that offered the most attractive product.

ABBYY FlexiCapture provides a single entry point for us to automatically transform the stream of different forms and documents of any structure and complexity into business-ready data, which is easily integrated into our workflows,” claimed Carl Allen, enterprise architect at Companies House.

“We needed a flexible solution that could easily integrate without our existing core systems and that gave a high recognition rate.

“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,” he added.


The Results

Since implementing ABBYY FlexiCapture, Companies House has been able to extra data from forms and documents directly, then embed the information into workflows to automate, separate and classify documents quickly.

It has also been able to put a stop to numerous admin intensive tasks and has prevented huge swathes of paper from travelling round the building.

Morgan claimed the character recognition has been a huge part of the success with the ABBY system because it is efficient and gains results much faster.

Companies House has benefitted from a cost-effective way to process forms and put semi-structured and unstructured documents into one stream.

Data capture can be integrated seamlessly into developer applications so full control can be maintained over document processing, extracted data and document routing.

“Of course the main benefit is that there is a greatly reduced volume of paper moving around the building,” claimed Allen.

“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 issues on the business sections along the way, before we start processing all of the remaining paper,” he added.


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