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We are currently in progress of using automation with our imaging platform. To further our journey we are to looking into utilizing the power of 2d and or QR barcodes on our forms. We are struggling on what information to include in the barcode itself. We are an insurance company that processes anything from new business to claims. Currently we are thinking of including document classification and a piece of workflow information. Just wondering if anyone has learning’s on this process and or best practices? –

Thrivent Financial

In addition to the ideas you have, what about some type of unique identifier (GUID) that could be used to point to a record in a database. That way if you later find that it would have been great to have some other piece of information or metadata associated with the form, you will not have to change the data stored in future barcodes. Additionally, all of the existing barcodes will still serve your needs, basically “future-proofing” the system.

LEAD Technologies Inc

Are you adding the barcodes to forms that are filled, so that they include data that the customer has entered into the form, or just a static barcode on the unfilled form?

Assuming the former, I agree with the other response about a GUID of some sort to link to a record in the database. Definitely don’t include any personally identifiable information, such as customer name. If the goal of the form is to rendezvous with a running workflow, you can use the GUID as a key for that, or if the workflow instance is kicked off when the form is filled, then you can add the ID of the instance to make it easy to match.

Kemsley Design Ltd.

Barcodes are useful in certain controlled instances, but I have experienced some challenges in using bar codes, either printed directly on the form, via stickers, or via cover sheets. Their usefulness is very dependent on the upstream process and users that are producing, receiving or handling the documents. For example, documents can arrive in your process via multiple channels, such as fax, email, mail, or the web. Some of these channels preserve the integrity of the document, others do not. Scanning and fax can be highly problematic for bar code use because of resolution, user error, skew, dirty scanners, etc. Realistically, you will need to plan into your business case the exceptions that can occur with non-readable bar-codes, and the labor cost (and designated team) required to fix or resolve them whether it is a classification or index error. Sometimes this is a very different exception type to cure with different skills required to resolve. The challenge is estimating exception rate which is a function of volume, process and user behavior. The more ‘analog’ and the more ‘human’ the higher the exception volume will be.

Personally, I do not like bar codes because they introduce a step or requirement into your business process and form design that may not be feasible to your process’ user community because of various constraints such as form ownership, compliance by users to use the right bar code and other factors. Software can classify, separate and even index without bar code technology today and I have seen it be more resilient to errors. I would evaluate this option prior to falling back to the ‘bad old’ days!

Hope this is helpful.


Alex is quite correct. Having been through a couple of the projects for automation, I can tell you that the leading software products today can, in fact, do as good or better at classifying, meta tagging, and routing, forms from the scan process WITHOUT bar coding as they can with. I would join with Alex in strongly suggesting you try to avoid going the barcode route.


Hello – my view on bar code and QR code is depends on use case. If you want to classify or categories and recognize outside of system. Yes you should go for QR or BARCODE so external device can recognize and identify data. If automation is within system and inside organization for in-house applications, no need to add codes to make it complicated.

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