Document Tracking Technology

In various types of office work, people pass around forms and documents via workflows. By applying the concept of the POP systemNote1 (i.e., production control system widely used in the manufacturing industry) to office work, it is possible to collect and manage a wide range of real-time dataNote2 for use in monitoring operational status, implementing the PDCA cycle, and improving operations. However, the POP system has rarely been implemented in office work due to the high cost of such implementation.

To address this issue, Fuji Xerox has developed document tracking technology that enables the low-cost implementation of a system that can easily collect and manage real-time data to monitor the progress of work, by utilizing our strong point of document handling technology. This tracking technology makes it possible to identify at an early stage of the workflow any work not proceeding as scheduled, as well as the reasons why it is delayed. And by analyzing real-time data statistically from various viewpoints, it is possible to identify problems in work processes and devise a plan for improvement, thereby leading to more efficient and better quality office work.
Fig. 1 shows the operations of the system that utilizes this tracking technology. First, a multifunction device prints out a form with a barcode (tracking ID) (1 in Fig. 1). Upon printing, data on the printed form is analyzed and stored in a database, while being correlated with the barcode (2 in Fig. 1). At every step of a work process (e.g., sending and receiving the form), the barcode on the form is read with a barcode scanner (3 in Fig. 1). When the barcode is scanned, the document handling history is input into a database while being correlated with the barcode (4 in Fig. 1). In the database, it is possible to check the current status of the document as well as the work progress (5 in Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Basic operations of the system that utilizes document tracking technology

Fig. 2 shows how document tracking technology is actually implemented in a sales recording process.
First, sales branches nationwide print out and send forms with barcodes by using the mission-critical system. As the barcodes are read at every step of work, the history of document handling (e.g., sending and receiving forms) is automatically recorded in a database. For example, in case of any flaw on a form, the department that received the form sends it back to the sender. In such cases, the history of the form returned to the sender is automatically recorded in the database. Then, on a web browser, the sender of the form checks the registered information correlated with the barcode, such as the reason why the form was returned, and the due date by which it must be resent. The sender then makes necessary corrections and sends the revised form again to the receiving department (i.e., sales operations center).
By correlating barcodes with data acquired through office work and the history of such work as document handling done at office, and then recording both in a database as described above, we can check the current status and comments on documents from web browsers. With this technology, it is no longer necessary to manually record work histories and make inquiries about current work progress. It is also possible to check such information as the total number of forms sent and the overall work progress in a timely manner. Until now, estimating the amount of work required, adjusting work shifts, and prioritizing each work have been done based on speculation and past experience. By using this technology, however, such work management can be performed more quantitatively based on real-time data.
Our document tracking technology enables the establishment of a low-cost system that can monitor and manage office work, and eliminates the need for customized development. This technology helps improve both the speed and quality of operations in office work processes.

Fig. 2: Example of the implementation of document tracking technology

  • Note1 POP: Point Of Production
  • Note2 Real-time data: data acquired through office work or data showing actual work progress