Compliant Public Disclosure Starts with Smart Records Retention

If there’s one message I consistently hear from customers today, it’s how big of a deal public disclosure is for the government and how we need better solutions around it. That being said, you would not believe how many of these organizations don’t feel that they have a good handle on their content.

In Washington State, public disclosure refers to the release of all documents and content to the person making the request. These documents at minimum need to be available for the requestor to view. There are some exemptions to this, such as sealed case files.

Good public disclosure practices really start with one thing: good record-keeping (and destruction). We hear time and time again from customers that they’ve never thrown anything away for fear that the document may be needed at a later date. While they may be thinking that this is the best way to avoid throwing anything away that should be kept, it also means keeping records that should have been destroyed.

Some aren’t aware of the fact that when a public disclosure request comes in, organizations are required by law to turn over any documentation pertaining to the request (as long as it is subject to disclosure). That means that if documents haven’t been destroyed and fall under the specific request, those documents need to be turned over as well, even though they are past the retention period. This poses a huge risk in regards to potential litigations.

Getting your records in order may seem like an overwhelming task, but here are some steps you can take to move toward better practices related to retention and disposition of records.

  1. Understand YOUR Organization’s Requirements for Record Retention and Disposition
    Every organization is different. Certain records have to be kept longer than others, some records might need to be sealed, others may need redaction before they can be turned over, etc. Each organization, each department, even each business process may have different requirements around records. Determine and document what the requirements are so that when you start to do an inventory of content, you have a definitive plan regarding what needs to be kept and for how long. Click here for a link to the Washington State Records Retention Schedules.
  2. Where are my Records?
    Identify where records are kept. Are they stored on a network share? In a file cabinet? In a content management system? Somewhere else? Are they in paper form? Electronic? Are there video files? Regardless of where the documents are kept, the regulations are around how you get the content organized, not the file format or how hard the collection process is. This will help ensure that there are not duplicate documents, and if there are, that only the pertinent copies are kept so as not to be a factor in a potential litigation.
  3. Perform an Analysis and Inventory of Your Records
    Some organizations choose to do this internally, some hire a contractor, and some take a hybrid approach. Regardless of which path you choose, determine what content you have, what needs to be kept, and what can be disposed of before evaluating any technology. This will keep you from bringing content into a solution that will need to be immediately disposed of after the initial analysis.
  4. Choose a Solution that is Flexible and Easy
    95% of organizations I work with are looking for a solution that is easy-to-use yet flexible enough to change with requirements. They want something that can easily set up to work with current retention and disposition schedules, yet can be updated without too much effort if laws or regulations change.
  5. Trust the System
    If you’ve done the prep work correctly, then what you need to do is trust what you’ve put in place is going to work. Choose a good partner with a track record of success to help you.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what can be accomplished around public disclosure, records retention and your content. ImageSource has been assisting customer partners with these types of solutions for the last 20 years. We have done everything from initial consulting through implementation and support. Below is a short list of some of offerings:

  • Expert consulting to determine your “as is” state and develop a plan to get you to your “desired” state using industry best practices
  • Assessment of your current technology and how it can be leveraged
  • Solution evaluation to perfectly match technology with your requirements
  • Solution deployment, configuration, training and rollout
  • Document collection, conversion, scanning, taxonomy definition and automated classification and metadata extraction
  • Data Migration
  • Ongoing partnership for system/process tuning, growth and support
  • Managed applications services

The ILINX platform can assist any organization with getting a handle on their content.

How to get the best bang for your buck!

Why price is not the most important factor
when purchasing imaging hardware

When shopping for new imaging hardware, many customers look at their budget and let that dictate their purchase. Now I understand that budget is an important factor, however over the last 9 years working with imaging customers, many have purchased equipment based mainly on price – only to discover that it did not meet their long term growth needs.

So in light of these discussions, here is bits of wisdom that can be used as a checklist when considering new purchases:

  • Color or Black & White (B & W) scanning? The majority of scanners automatically come with color option but can also provide B & W scanning for smaller document size files.
  • Is Speed important – scanners are classed by Pages per Minute (PPM). How fast do you need the scanner to scan?
  • How much volume are you expecting to scan per day, week or month? Volume and speed is determined by the manufacturer when they develop the scanner.
  • Manufacturers group their scanners into categories based on PPM and the Daily Duty Cycle (DDC). DDC is how many images the scanner can handle on a daily basis. So if you have a large volume of scanning to be completed on a daily basis, a small desktop workgroup scanner will not be sufficient for the volume – it would break down all the time. Here are the general groupings that manufacturers use:

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Why Courts Need Document Management AND Case Management Systems

Document Management System (DMS) needs should be identified holistically, not just for the needs of the courtroom processes. A successful implementation will be gained through a well thought out plan and a DMS solution that can not only integrate with a courts Case Management System (CMS), but also with Fiscal, HR, Procurement, and other department’s line-of-business systems.

To accomplish a successful implementation of an electronic environment there has to be an overall vision and buy-in from all the key individuals of the court system.

  • Culture and vision which incorporates technology as part of the business strategy
  • Identify areas to integrate technology with the courts business strategies
  • Implementation of an electronic DMS to be used by all departments
  • Integration of the DMS with CMS and other line-of-business systems
  • Provide public access to documents via a web portal (e-Access)

    Puzzle_arrows

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Please Hold for 1 Hour…

Great support is a must for any business and Customer Service 101. Automated support is great if you want to pay a bill with a credit card or check the balance of an account, but when you have an actual issue you need assistance with, automated support is the LAST thing that I know I want. You call the number, have to start pressing buttons and then keep getting dumped into various queues, and then when you actually do reach someone, sometimes you explain your issue, and then you get transferred 10 times until you reach the right person. I honestly dread calling any company or organization where I know this happens, because I know it’s not just a quick 5-10 minute call. It always ends up being 30 minutes to an hour of my time at least!

That’s one of the things that I think is so awesome about the Support Team here at ImageSource. Our customer partners can put in a support ticket via the website with information about the issue they are having and a live human being from our Support Team will call them to help work through the issue. The team can chat with the customer over the phone or even set up a WebEx session to dial-in and see what’s going on. What’s even more wonderful about working with so many great organizations in the Olympia area, if the issue can’t be resolved over the phone and/or over a WebEx session, a technician can be onsite relatively shortly to assist. How cool is that?!

On top of all that, there is always someone from our Support Team on call 24/7. So if a customer partner has an issue in the middle of the night that needs immediate attention, someone is always on call if the need arises!

ImageSource’s Support Team is very knowledgeable on a number of different content management products, from capture software to eForms to records management and everything in between.

So if you’re having an issue, don’t be afraid to reach out. You’ll get to talk to a human and you won’t be put on hold for an hour…

Kristina Linehan
Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

Converging Mobility with Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

In a recent report, IDC predicts 87% of connected devices by 2017 will be tablets and smartphones.  In the same report, it is predicted that the purchase and use of PCs will drop from 28.7% to 13% by 2017.Worldwide-Smart-Connected-Device-Forecast-Market-Share-by-Product-Category-2012-2017-iCharts

What does this trend data really mean?  Well, for starters, it might mean that more people will be playing Angry Birds than ever before.  From a business point-of-view, tablets and smartphones are both disruptive and viewed like a Swiss Army Knife:  a single device that can do many things.  However, with these mobile devices, there is both the opportunity for rewards and the potential for risks.  It makes no difference if the mobile device is provided by your employer or is a BYOD situation.  On the whole, the same rules apply; however, there are some nuances about BYOD that invite additional risks to be mitigated. Continue reading

Increase in small home-based businesses equates to growth of content to manage

Small businesses are major players in the U.S. Economy. According to Forbes.com, over 50% of the working population (120 million individuals) works in a small business.

With the advancements in technology it has become easier for people to create and run small businesses, without insurmountable operating expenses, out of their homes. In fact, 52% of all small businesses are home-based (Forbes.com). This has led to small business growth nationwide and changes in the way these businesses operate.

How do they manage the increasing inflow of content to their businesses?

How do they search and find information effectively?

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Where did Virtual Rescan Technology go?

I have personally been selling PC’s, PC Peripherals and scanners since 1995. When I came to ImageSource in June of 2000, I had to learn the document scanner side of things. ImageSource was definitely an early adopter of the VRS (Virtual Rescan) Technology. This insight was driven by being close partners with Fujitsu and Kofax. In the beginning, you had to have extra hardware components in the scanner and host PC to make the equation functional. The installations were clumsy at times, but it really was the best way to get the best quality image from your scanner.

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Rock, Paper, Scissors

rock paper scissorsAs the Fourth of July approaches, we reflect on the formation of our government and the fact that the 3 branches of government are co-equal, as laid out in the first three Articles of the Constitution and several amendments.  If you think of Capture, Content Management Repository and Business Process Management (BPM) they are the three pillars of successful ECM in the enterprise.  Having one without the other does not give the enterprise the full benefit and ROI the technologies have to offer.

Sometimes explaining the value of utilizing all three of these to customers can be challenging.  So, here’s a fun and simple way to think about it:  The concept is best illustrated by the game, “Rock, Paper, Scissors“, which is a game everyone knows.  Depending on circumstances, each application has a chance to provide more ROI than another one, but without one the other cannot truly provide processes efficiencies.  Just like our government and if any one branch vetos or stops a bill.
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ILINX Capture 5 – Do you need to capture information anywhere, anytime?

ILINX Capture 5 upcoming Webinar

The ILINX suite of products are flexible, lean, and highly adoptable web based tools. You can capture information whether electronic or paper on a desktop, multifunction device, scanner or mobile device. Capture anywhere, anytime!

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Are you “Powered by ILINX?”

Organizations are realizing more and more every day the need to reduce paper, automate labor-intense processes and eliminate duplicate tasks. Since we all know time is money, this is important now more than ever. But how do you choose the right technology to assist with this? We hear quite frequently that users are comfortable working within their line-of-business systems and that bringing in a large, complicated content management system will only confuse them. My response to this is, “Are you Powered by ILINX?”

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ImageSource customers are evaluating the Panasonic scanner: KV-S1065C

Panasonic scanner: KV-S1065C

Why my customers choose the Panasonic KV-S1065C:

1. One of my healthcare customers had a requirement for scanning medical cards.   This scanner is specifically designed to work with many different sized identification cards. They also love that the scanner software allows you to view both sides of the card on one image.  This is a great feature in the medical field. Another great feature is the long paper scanning option for scanning unusually long patient records.

2. Many customers in any industry enjoy utilizing the Kofax VRS software to autocorrect their scanned images. This cuts down time on the end-user manually correcting these images. Productivity is increased substantially.

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Panasonic Panaboard-Not Your Average Whiteboard

I have discovered great benefits that Interactive Whiteboards offers in day-to-day activities that many of our private, government and education customers are utilizing. Highlighted below are two of the more popular interactive whiteboards that are requested by customers – the Panasonic UB-T880 and UB-T880W Panaboards.

What is an Interactive Whiteboard?

  • It is a Whiteboard that uses a projector to display PC Images onto it’ surface and lets the presenter operate the data on the board, with a finger or an Electronic Pen that works like a PC mouse. It is an active, visual-based educational tool.

Benefits

  • Makes it easy to create effective, eye-catching teaching materials and it promotes active, visual-based teaching and learning.
  • Intuitive operation that allows you to freely manipulate music, movies and images, to change ordinary meetings and presentations into visually active exchanges.

Features:

For a great list of features – check out the brochure.  You will be surprised at all it can do!

I discovered some interesting “out of the box” applications of interactive whiteboards:

Remote Conferencing – for Board meetings, company staff meetings and training (using the remote conferencing system)

  • Education – the Panasonic Interactive Panaboards can be purchased with RM Easiteach software. The Panaboard’s information can be saved and distributed to students via flash drive or email. It is a great collaborative teaching tool.
  • Education –  a School district that did not have the funding or infrastructure to put multiple computers in every classroom  – they now use the Panasonic Interactive Panaboard in 700 classrooms to provide Web and Multi-media learning applications and interactive activities involving the web and built-in stereo speakers.
  • Healthcare – a hospital that uses the Panasonic Interactive Panaboard as an operating room scheduling tool. Also utilizes the Panaboard in waiting rooms to help entertain adults and children for hours while they wait.
  • Utilities – a Utility company that uses the Panasonic Interactive Panaboard as a tool for monitoring different functions such as water and power.
  • Firefighting – Fire Station that uses the Panasonic Interactive Panaboard for training and as an interactive tool for Google Maps – they use the touch capabilities to zoom into a specific location of a fire to discuss different ways to access to location etc.

 If you have an interesting way you are using an interactive whiteboard please share this information – we could all learn from your experience and wisdom!

Megan Lane

Inside Sales

ImageSource

The Top 5 Mistaken Beliefs About Content Management

Gain control of unstructured content

Your company may or may not have a strategy for managing content, the unstructured information streaming in and out of all areas of your organization on a daily basis. It’s likely you at least have a partial strategy where one or more of your departments is capturing and storing some type of unstructured information for later retrieval.

In a world where the use of digital channels is enabling companies to synthesize large amounts of information in seconds, organizations are making it a top priority to gain control of that rogue 80%, which is the approximate amount of unstructured information slipping through the cracks. This information is not easily accessible because it is scattered and isolated in departmental or personal file systems. This is the information you should be arming your employees with so they can do their jobs.

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If You Don’t Have Time to do it Right the First Time, When Will You Have Time to do it Over?

Growing up, we learn that it’s important to plan for certain events. We plan for moving, vacations, presentations, and even certain disasters. Planning for an IT project is just as important. I recently saw a statistic that said 62% of all IT projects fail to meet their stated goals, and that more than 50% of all Enterprise Content Management projects fail. This means that it’s more important than ever to make planning your Enterprise Content Management projects top priority.

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Notebooking with ILINX Content Store: You’ll have to come up with another excuse for not working this weekend

With the growing ubiquity of mobile internet, many of us feel nostalgic for the days where logging off of a computer meant escaping our email inboxes.  Indeed, being connected and reachable is not always a welcome concept; it has further complicated the lives of recovering workaholics everywhere.  Still, in the cases where we need the internet the most, it often finds a way to make itself unavailable.This phenomenon is particularly problematic in the world of Enterprise Content Management.

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Are You Realizing the “E” in Your ECM Projects

I’ve  worked in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) industry and sold software solutions in this space for over 12 years now. Since then I’ve been involved in hundreds of transactions and sales cycles with many Fortune 1000 companies. One thing that stands out very clearly  in my time in this industry is the fact that I’ve never worked with a single organization that had a plan to realize the “Enterprise” part of Enterprise Content Management software.

One story that vividly sticks out in my mind is an engagement we were called into back in 2002 with a Global 1000 company that was evaluating ECM software to solve their invoice processing challenge. After an evaluation period that lasted about two months, we were selected as the vendor of choice and went into the contracts phase of this engagement. One of the things we wrote into the contract was a clause that stated this company retained the right to execute on an enterprise license for everything in our ECM product suite for a specified dollar amount within 365 days of the signed contract.

Exactly 364 days from the date we put that clause in the contract and the CIO of this particular company executed the option for our ECM software suite, and paid a significant sum to do it. When I met with this CIO a couple of weeks later to discuss his roll out plan he informed me that he didn’t have a plan to roll out the software and what he purchased was a “tool” for his “tool kit”. As I left the meeting I thought that was a rather odd statement for him to make and I filed the information away in my memory bank. As the days turned to weeks, then months and finally years, the “tool” that this particular CIO bought never left his tool kit. The sad conclusion to this story is that 5 years later this same CIO went through another ECM vendor evaluation and spent millions of dollars more on another enterprise license with another company. The challenge here wasn’t the software because the software (FileNet) at the time was a leader in the ECM space, the challenge was that this CIO didn’t have a deployment plan or a method to help him create one. Because of a lack of planning this CIO wasted millions of shareholders dollars in direct, indirect and opportunity costs because of his lack of foresight in planning.

The ImageSource ECMEcosystem™ consulting methodology was created with this dilemma in mind, the dilemma that companies don’t have the resources, expertise and time to strategically plan for successful project rollouts. Our ECMEcosystem can help organizations:

  • Create an appropriate strategy to help them rationalize their current ECM infrastructure
  • Assess the organizational maturity level and responsiveness to change
  • Monetize ECM in a way that is meaningful to C-Level executives
  • Accurately capture requirements and use cases to develop an accurate road map
  • Put together cost / benefits analysis to justify the payback and ROI of an ECM investment

One of the key questions every project team should ask themselves before engaging in ECM initiatives should be, “Wouldn’t it make more business sense for us to invest in some ECM planning before engaging in the complexity of ECM acquisition and project roll-outs?”

As someone once said, “If we never take the time to do something right, when are we ever going to find the time to do it over?” Those are words that ECM project teams should live by!!

Cass Holloway
VP, Oracle Solution Sales
ImageSource, Inc.

Content Collection and eDiscovery

If your organization is like many others, a call from legal or human resources to produce evidence for an electronic discovery (eDiscovery) request can turn into a time consuming and expensive endeavor.  Searching through and analyzing emails, electronic files, SharePoint, and other content is an arduous task, especially if all of that information is contained in silos, with no common repository.

We have helped customers, at the very least, from a cost savings perspective; realize savings from de-duplication of content.  In many cases, customers can see a return on investment in less than one year!

ImageSource can implement enterprise content management solutions that can collect all of the data in you environment, according to your policies, and make it available for legal search and discovery.

We can advise you on best practice for implementing a “content collection, archiving and eDiscovery” infrastructure that will utilize your file plans, and make sure you address these legal concerns:

  • “We don’t want to keep too much content”
  • “We want to keep the right content”
  • “We want to meet the government’s requirement that consistent, repeatable processes are in place”

We’d love to discuss your specific situation, and leverage our expertise to help solve your challenge.  There’s no reason why, with the technology available, that organizations should still be struggling with the same problems from the ‘90s.

Archie Horton
Regional Sales Manager
ImageSource, Inc.

Yes, You Need Maintenance on Your Scanner

As budgets get tighter it’s inevitable that the need for hardware maintenance will come into question. It’s like insurance in your own personal life; nobody likes to pay for it but you definitely dont want to get caught without it.

If your equipment is mission critical, you need to keep it covered under a service contract.
If you don’t have the budget to replace it immediately, you need a service contract.
If you are unsure what model it would  be replaced by or where or how to get it you should definately maintain your service contract.

There does come a point in time when it is more practical to put those renewal dollars towards a replacement.  If you’re working with a good company such as ImageSource we will let you know at renewal time that you should be planning for your replacement either this year or the year after. We can help you select a model and also review compatibility.

Upgrades can be tricked and can trigger software upgrades at the sametime, these are best planned for rather than inadvertenly discovered.

If you need assistance planning, renewing or replacing your scanner please give us a call.
Thank you for your time!

Ruben Kerson
Inside Sales Manager
ImageSource Inc.

Why a good ECM Integrator is important?

I am a big fan of HGTV, especially one particular show “Holmes on Homes.”  For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is about a general contractor who is on a crusade to weed out bad contractors who take short cuts when performing the job they were hired to do. Because the “bad contractors” took short cuts and didn’t do the job right in the first place, they created more problems over and above those which they were originally hired to fix in the first place. “Doing it Right the First Time” has become the mantra of the show.

By now, you may be asking yourself what one of my favorite TV shows has to do with ECM…well, frankly, everything. After 43 years in the computer industry and having worked in many aspects both in the technical and sales side of the business, it will still continue to amaze me that I see as many failed implementations as I do.

The sad part is that it does not have to be if customers would take more care in the evaluation process and place more focus on the integrator who understands solutions and less on the software vendor who provides a tool.

First let’s define an expert. An “expert” is someone who does 12 things, 12 thousand times, not 12 thousand things 12 times.  A good integrator is just that, they are” good” and can be an asset to the customer looking to implement any ECM solution.  Many times a customer will focus on the software vendor to provide this expertise. Software vendors sell software. The problem with this is the software vendor is interested in selling their software or selling you additional software and possibly ignoring the fact you already have what you need or supplying you with the incorrect software for the solution you need.

I have witnessed this many times and to say it can create a messy situation is quite an understatement.  In one such case, the customer purchased well over a million dollars in software, but the software vendor and his reseller never understood the requirements of the implementation and certain costly components were left out of the solution. Worse yet, false expectations were set for the customer regarding professional services and implementation costs.

How does this happen? First and foremost, neither the software vendor or reseller had any actual experience with ECM nor the costs associated with implementation. Neither understood the solutions requirements and they purposely deflated the services costs fearing they would jeopardize the software sale. Using an “expert” integrator would have provided the necessary solution, protected the customers’ interests and a positive experience would have been the outcome for the customer.

Another unfortunate circumstance we all share is the state of our economy. Economic times like the one we find ourselves in have a way of bringing out all kinds of new so called “experts.”  In this environment the customer must make sure they are able to separate “the contenders from the pretenders”.

I am a firm believer you get what you pay for. It continually irritates me to see a customer pay for the same real estate multiple times because they hired someone unqualified to implement their solution.  Following a few simple steps can prevent this from happening.

  • Remember the definition of an expert
  • Check  multiple references
  • Ask for a list of customers with similar solutions and have honest and open conversations with these customers about their experiences
  • Beware of the integrator who tells you they can have someone on site in just a couple of days to begin work. Any integrator worth working with will be worth the wait.  An expert integrator will typically have a 30 – 90 day interval before project start date.
  • You get what you pay for

Bob Garrido
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

The Power of Partnerships

Working with other companies and their staff to deliver a product and service to a customer can be an enlightening experience.  I have recently been working with 4 of the top leading scanner manufacturer partners to assist a healthcare customer with their distributed capture initiative-with the evaluation and the purchase of 160 desktop scanners for capturing patient intake information.

The customer evaluated the 4 manufacturers’ desktop scanners. A number of factors influenced the healthcare customer on their decision to work with ImageSource and to purchase the following scanner evaluated:

  • The ease of use of the scanner equipment and software
  • Availability of the manufacturer’s sales person and sales engineer to be on-site to install the scanner, the numerous conference calls to answer questions that unfolded due to the testing of the scanner and every question was treated with utmost importance.
  • The attention to detail by both ImageSource and manufacturer to modify the demonstration of  the scanner and that the scanner software solved a number of their various documentation challenges (for example – the patient intake documentation varies is size, thickness and also includes plastic cards)
  • The high level of thorough communication between ImageSource and manufacturer (In the customer’s eyes it seemed they were working with one company, not two!)

The greatest learning experience and also the most important factor that made this a stress-free process was the level of trust that was initiated, grown and experienced by all parties involved;

  • From the customer perspective: Working with two teams from different companies- it did not matter who they called (whether it be ImageSource or the manufacturer), they received the same high level of service from both companies. Both companies kept each other informed of the conversations etc. they had with the healthcare customer, therefore alleviating any miscommunications or misunderstandings.
  • From the Reseller vendor (ImageSource) perspective: The high level of communication and interaction with the manufacturer’s sales team created a streamlined cohesive focus to ensure the customer received what they REALLY required from a scanner.
  • From the Manufacturer perspective: Being able to rely on a vendor partner that has the knowledge, expertise in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and initiative to go the extra step – to focus on how to solve the customer’s challenges, not just sell a scanner. It gave us the manufacturer room to really excel in presenting how the scanner and software was the solution to the customer’s challenges.

It is refreshing to experience this unique partnership among the customer, vendor and manufacturer. And I know from all involved, that it set the stage for a high level of expectation in the future opportunities to do business together. This experience reminds me of this quote I saw recently:

“If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail.” Winston Churchill

Megan Lane
Inside Sales
ImageSource, Inc.

Taking PeopleSoft to New Heights in Higher Ed

The PeopleSoft ERP system you use for Student Information Services (SIS) has been built to support nationwide and world wide applications. As such, it cannot provide unique challenges for each business need.Typically, we see IT shops and business directors working around the deficiencies in the product in an attempt to meet specific business objectives.  We also see universities purchasing complimentary products to try to meet specific needs and requirements.

From an IT perspective, the cost to write custom code to modify PeopleSoft is prohibitive, or the software simply cannot meet the business objectives. With this in mind, ImageSource, a systems integrator for Oracle, has built several modules for higher education that will have a dramatic effect on how universities conduct business. The integration is codeless, so although we “talk back and forward” to PeopleSoft, there is little requirement to have PeopleSoft technical staff supporting the project.

This new module provides true business workflow that can be designed and built by the business unit, allowing work to be pushed out to the specified knowledge workers. The pilot project recently completed at major California University has been deemed a complete success. This solution now allows them to provide critical real time service to students, parents and faculty.  With the initial implementation in Finance and Student Services, this university is ready to implement the program campus-wide and gain substantial ROI.

If you’d like to know more about how this solution works please email Lynne Butler, ImageSource Higher Ed Business Consultant, at lynneb@imagesourceinc.com

Where’s My College Application?

A foreign student has applied to four different schools across the US. She spent two years in a community college where she received her Associate of Arts degree. She applied online at all four schools where she hopes to be accepted into a School of Engineering.

It has been three weeks and she and her family have not yet heard from any of the schools as to the status of the enrollment process.

In the meantime, hundreds, if not thousands, of new applications are being handled by enrollment services. Documents, including letters of recommendation, visas, foreign document permits, health records and transcripts are pouring into these universities. Additionally, there are automated transmissions imported into these schools in an attempt to reduce the workload of already overworked university staff.

Phones are constantly ringing with calls  from concerned applicants and parents. Emails are accumulating and can no longer be answered due to volume and reduced staffing requirements.

At most institutions, this happens to be standard practice during the enrollment time period, and universities are looking at better ways to service their applicants and to help break the bottleneck in the work process.

At AACRAO in Seattle next week, ImageSource will present the answer – a view of how the student services operation will look. A major university on the west coast has accepted the challenge and is determined to change the process through true Enterprise Content Management. It should be made clear that this is not document imaging. This university will continue to use their student information system, but documents entering the university will be processed immediately and will be sent to various workflow queues where they will be pushed through the system. As information is processed, it will be uploaded to the student information system, work packages will be distributed automatically to knowledge workers, and plans are being considered to update information to student portals for self-service.

Terry Butler
Chief Solutions Officer
ImageSource, Inc.

Colleges and Universities – Give Your Students Something to Cheer For!

Most Higher Education institutions have a student portal where students and parents can review mounds of information. From courses completed to the amount owed to events occurring at the school, the portal provides critical data. It acts as a self-service device to drastically reduce the amount of phone calls and emails that were once necessary.

However at most institutions, the ability to get REAL TIME information for a student applicant is very difficult. Questions such as, “Did you receive my transcripts? What else do you need? When will I know if I am accepted?” continues to be a difficult task.

At AACRAO in Seattle next week, you will have the opportunity to see the first student portal that is linked in real-time to the entire back room process for student enrollment. Not only will true enterprise content management (ECM) give the applicant peace of mind, it will provide huge benefits to all departments within student services.

Stop by ImageSource booth #106 during the AACRAO exhibition and don’t forget to register for the 5pm session hosted by ImageSource.

This is a really different experience.

Terry Butler
Chief Solutions Officer
ImageSource, Inc.

One-Hit Wonders in Enterprise Content Management

Defining Enterprise Content Management One-Hit Wonders

As I go about my every day sales and business development activities to evangelize ImageSource’s ILINX Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software products, I am amazed to see just how common it is for the originally installed ECM software system to be pretty much unchanged.  The use case is the same (e.g. Accounts Payable, Human Resources, Customer Service, etc.) and the system is used by mostly the same people.  Maybe a new application was implemented for Accounts Receivables, but by and large it is still the same system.  In some cases, the software has been up updated only once or twice, the scanners are original, the servers and workstations in use are running older operating systems and databases and the system might still be using a juke box for archival purposes.  This is very similar to what one might call in the music business, a one-hit wonder.  If you were to ask people in the music business, they would say a one-hit wonder is a very common tale.  And, so it seems that we have the same thing happening in businesses when it comes to Enterprise Content Management.

How did we get here?

What I have observed is that enterprise content management has become pervasive; however, it is actually a series of one-hit wonders.  Meaning it is managed and implemented differently by department and/or line-of-business.  For example, the  Accounts Payable department might use the originally installed ECM system, but the Marketing department uses nested shared folders on the network that also requires one to name the files in a certain manner; the Engineering department might be using some document management module that comes with their engineering software, but for imaged engineering drawings they go to the ECM system the Accounts Payable department uses; and the sales department had their CRM software integrated with a different ECM software application that is “cloud based”, as well as, they have become masters at using their network attached multi-function printer (a.k.a. MFP) to scan-to-email and ad-hoc scanning for imaging.  And, when things don’t work as they are expected to or malfunctions, the information technology department is supposed to pick up the pieces, work some magic (and fast) and “ta-dah” everything is back in working order.

What needs to change?

So how did we get to the point where we have so many different ways to image, file, store, retrieve and process documents and content in our businesses?  More importantly, what can be done about it to improve the situation to drive out duplication, increase efficiency and lower operating costs and risks?  First of all, let’s cover how we got here or better yet, what needed to happen first keeping in mind there is no one to really blame.  A large part of why businesses have not centered their businesses on a single ECM software system is that some evolution needed to take place.  First and foremost, the ECM applications themselves had to evolve from client-server and thick clients to be being truly web-based built on Web 2.0 technology and architecture; it is important to note that not every ECM software company has taken this step.  Secondly, the internet had to become as pervasive as the telephone (land line and/or mobile) and the bandwidth to support business use.  Thirdly, the ECM applications had to become less specialized in just performing one thing, such as, imaging, web content management, digital asset management, etc.  Fourth, the computing platform from which we access the information had to become a non-factor; this means that I can access my information from any device:  a PC workstation in the office, a laptop in a hotel, a tablet device like the Apple iPad and/or a smartphones.  Lastly, the investment of ECM software systems needed to scale to based upon the size of the business to actually be affordable and cost-effective which has largely not been a reality.

A new reality is possible today!

It is from ImageSources’ collective experiences of its employees and the 17 years of being in the Enterprise Content Management business that it can confidently and successfully assist companies and organizations of all types create a new paradigm.   Simply put, we make it possible to take disparate ways and systems of managing documents and content into a single system that serves every department and line-of-business of the enterprise.  It first starts with making document capture so simple and so accessible from any device.  ILINX Capture works with any TWAIN compliant scanner and can be configured to work with virtually any network attached multi-function printer (MFP).  ILINX Capture Mobile and the ILINX Tablet make it possible to capture documents and content in the palm of your hand.  ILINX Content Store  is ideally positioned for those companies that need a complete, full functioning, user pleasing and straight-forward approach to Enterprise Content Management.  It must also have the option to be integrated with business applications (ILINX Integrate) and does not burden the IT department with system management and administration tasks.  Mainly because it is built on Microsoft’s .NET web-based architecture; therefore, updates, changes and new applications can be deployed from a single-administration console and users can receive those updates via their intranet or internet.  If the existing content, documents, images and data in your current “dot.90’s” ECM system is a concern for you, ImageSource has the services and the tools (ILINX Export) to make this all important and critical step of migrating your information into ILINX Content Store.  The remaining question that you might have is this:  is it really affordable and cost-effective to consolidate disparate ways and systems, migrate the information and implement a new ECM software system?  And my answer to that is, “ImageSource’s approach and ILINX has proven to be so for many others, I have no reason why to think the same is possible for you and your company!”

 

What was your “ah ha” moment?

What was your “ah-ha” moment in communicating ECM?

Working in  Enterprise Content Management for over 12 years often times I have found it somewhat difficult to explain what we do and/or sell.  Have you?

I have found that who your audience is often dictates how you explain it.   To an IT group I have described ECM in terms of storage and retrieval of images in to database/repository with searching capability, ability to apply rules for authentication and accessibility, removing silos of information,  ability to do workflow and BPM, and other things like Meta-Data, networks, through-put and HA/DR.   Sometimes their eyes gloss over and other times they “understand.”

To some business folks when I’ m talking ECM I most usually reference things like accessibility of their documentation, being able to search on key fields and automatically route work/documents/content without the use of email or paper files (at its simplest form) and its all stored in a database otherwise known as a “repository.”  Or, when describing workflow, using the old analogy of a restaurant.   When you go in to the establishment a hostess seats you, then you get a menu, a waiter comes up and then you order, that order goes back to the kitchen and you get your meal prepared, then after you have dessert, you get a bill, pay and get a receipt then the bus boy comes and cleans everything up – that’s a workflow.

But what do you say to your mother or father, sister or brother and even children (aka the layman)?  I’ve tried things like, “I sell software that lifts information off paper or documents and puts that data in a data base that allows people to find it. Then the people can see the documents on their computer necessary to do their job.”    But I still get a ‘blank stare.’

Then one day, maybe three or four months ago, my dad was asking me for his usual P.C. help and he said, “my printer/scanner isn’t reading the words as well as it used to.”   Of course, that got my attention! Could my dad know what O.C.R. is?  After 12 years of me talking about IBM, FileNet, EMC/Documentum, Microsoft , Captiva, Kofax, ImageSource and ILINX(r) and him saying, “I still don’t get what you do.”  NO WAY!  How could my dad possibly know about O.C.R?

So I asked him, “Dad, you know what OCR is?”  Guess what, he replied YES!  “Its that software that I use when I want to take words off my documents that are PDF or Tiffs”.   BAM!  He knew!  Finally after 12 years he “figured it out” partially what I did for a living.  Putting this in context, my dad is an automotive guy, first sales and then executive, who had never a need to do any “computing” most of his professional career.

We have a lot of acronyms in our ECM vocabulary:  OCR, ICR, OMR, BPM, OSR, ODAR, HIPI, TIFF, etc etc etc.  (I can go on for a lifetime of our acronyms).   But what do you say so that IT people get what ECM is?  What do YOU say to a business user, who never ever ever thought of this stuff day to day?  What do you tell your mom, dad, brother, sister, what you do every day?   What have you said that brings blank stares?  But, most importantly, what have you said to a customer and then you saw the “light bulb” go off?  It appears O.C.R. is making it in to the mainstream vocabulary, if my dad is any example, because he knows his, “HP MFP does OCR.”

 

Knowledge is Power

At an increasing rate, I am getting asked the question “Is SharePoint a good fit for our business”?  I shouldn’t single out SharePoint as the question really is “What XYZ product would be best for my ECM needs?”  Before this question can even be considered, the business processes need to be understood.  Inputs, outputs, systems in place, and platform preferences are all very important to consider.  Is there a workflow process to be considered?  Where and when is data keyed into systems?  Is it keyed into multiple systems?

Talk to similar companies / organizations / departments that have gone through the process.  Go on site visits to see how companies are using technology to solve business problems.  Get educated.  Seek out your local AIIM chapter.  Go to relevant conferences that have a large congregation of people who are using solutions for content management.  Seek out systems integrators that have multiple offerings and address full end to end processes.

When information is gathered from the RFP process, it usually results in software manufacturers responding with one thing in mind – license revenue.  You shouldn’t worry about licenses or product until you have determined your end goal, efficiencies, and points of integration.   Also, keep it simple.  Successful projects don’t need to overly complex, long, and expensive – they need to solve a business problem.

I don’t usually go to the doctor and ask for a prescription until the doctor has done a thorough diagnosis.

Thanks for listening.

Jeff Blissett
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.
www.imagesourceinc.com

Why Training is Important

I recently had a conversation with an individual about ECM training.  This person needs to learn how to build a new application for both capture and her ECM system.  When I described the training and associated cost to her, she could not understand why the training is a comprehensive as it is or why the cost is what it is.  Her feeling was that the system must not be “user-friendly”.

What we tend to forget is that a successful implementation of a new application includes much more that creating fields and assigning properties.  It is essential that the entire business process be taken into account.  ECM systems are designed to replace your paper manual paper and other  processes.  Throwing together some fields that hopefully allow you to find your information is not enough.  It is necessary to know your processes inside and out and to  look at other processes that might touch your application as well.

As with everything else, it is the up front planning and effort that make the end result “user-friendly” .

One place to learn more about the subtleties of ECM is at the 2010 Nexus ECM Conference in Bellevue, WA on November 4 and 5.  Please consider attending this event.  It will be well worth your investment.

Selecting an Enterprise Content Management Solution

DEFINE THE BUSINESS GOALS

Your ECM initiative must begin with the identification of clearly defined measurable goals. These goals must emerge from cross‐functional planning groups. Too many efforts begin with a list of requirements for the ECM Solution, but these requirements cannot be defined accurately at such an early stage. The goals themselves will typically number between five and 10, and require agreement from all business units before you begin
constructing shortlists of vendors. This will help you avoid lengthier discussions at an inappropriate stage of the ECM effort. The goals should be strategic in nature, reflecting your objectives over two or three years. The overall business goals should succinctly and quantitatively summarize the essence of the required ECM solution, and they should be linked to the overall strategy of your organization. They should also be clearly phrased so that the benefits are clearly understood and actively supported by the executive sponsors and stakeholders. These objectives will form the basis for all requirements of the ECM project and will be the tool that allows irrelevant features to be quickly identified. The benefits of this approach include:

  • Faster short listing of suitable vendors.
  • Reduced expenditure in the selection phase.
  • Increased clarity about the solution components necessary for the appropriate solution.
  • Greater project transparency and more support from high‐level sponsors as a result.
  • Easier building of business case for the initiative.
  • Accurate listing of requirements.

APPLY AN ECM MATURITY MODEL

The adoption of maturity models is inhibited by the perception that they are abstract and theoretical, with little connection to the real world. Yet the appropriate maturity model can provide the basis for practical decisions, cost savings and the mitigation of many risks. A maturity model is a tabular representation of solution areas such as Capture, Workflow, Search and Retrieval, Web Content, or Records Management, together with a rating of how “mature” or developed that solution area can be. A simple thick client capture technology would have a low rating, while a sophisticated, thin client capture technology would score higher. The model can therefore be used to assess the level of maturity a future ECM Solution should have. It also assists in the articulation of a strategic vision and permits insight into the complexities of reaching that vision. A complete and realistic evaluation of all aspects of your current environment is necessary to assess the maturity level of your current system. Without this initial assessment you will be unable to determine what future levels of maturity are achievable, or how much effort is required to exact the corresponding changes. Such analyses also help to simplify buying decisions, and clarify whether the products on which your existing solution is based require upgrading or replacement. Benefits from applying maturity model analysis include:

  • The creation of a succinct, easily communicable summary of status of the ECM Solution to executive sponsorship and stakeholders.
  • The difficulty and cost of moving an ECM Solution to the desired level can easily be underestimated. A maturity model helps expose these difficulties and costs, and provides valuable input to the design of another indispensable tool — the road map.

BUILD A ROAD MAP TO PROMOTE LONG-TERM SUCCESS

A road map is a high‐level representation of the planned changes against the chosen timeline for those changes. Road maps are commonly represented as Gant charts, with the overall effort typically divided into overlapping phases. Each phase represents the changes required to raise the maturity of the ECM Solution to a higher level on the maturity model. The complexity of the required change will determine whether multiple steps for a particular solution area are taken in any one phase. (A phase typically ranges from three to six months.) This approach helps mitigate the risks associated with lengthier endeavors, such as attrition of key staff and budget reallocation away from the project.

Use a road map‐based approach to:

  • Ensure that the order in which you deploy the ECM Solution components matches the priorities of your overall business strategy.
  • Help organization leaders avoid deploying short-sighted point solutions and silos. Easy win can be considered, but not at the expense of higher‐order goals.
  • Permit a more thorough assessment of vendors and filter out those that can’t support your vision of your solution.
  • Allow a careful assessment of how long it will take for your ECM Solution to provide business value.

IDENTIFY AND FOLLOW THE RELEVANT INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES

Choose a Solution‐Deployment Methodology: ECM programs which diligently apply a project management office (PMO) and solution‐deployment methodology have a significantly higher chance of succeeding. The methodology will provide focus, optimize time to value and help reduce potential risks. Discuss the most appropriate methodology with your vendor. The methodology that your organization primarily endorses may
not provide the full benefits. An intelligent mix of your existing practices and those extolled by the vendor for its products is usually optimal. Choose the Right Team: The right mix of staff will ensure that the right strategy and designs are established, that costs for core‐development phases are reduced and that on‐the‐job training for in‐house staff is provided. Apply a Form of Requirements Tracing: Requirements tracing is a method by which the requirements of the individual phases are aligned with the goals identified and selected for that phase. This provides focus and helps ensure the exclusion of costly and unnecessary features. It can also prevent, or reduce, scope creep. Collaborate With Your Vendor: Involve your main vendor in the selection of the appropriate products and the design of the ECM solution architecture. Some of these changes are likely to involve third‐party products and will require a firm statement of compatibility from your main vendor.

SELECTING A SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR

When implementing an ECM Solution you should set your sights on a full‐service Enterprise Content Management integrator that provides infrastructure and services that streamline information processes. The vendor should help your organization leverage your information assets through document imaging, distributed capture, workflow and integration with existing business software systems. A true ECM vendor will have a comprehensive approach, including analysis, training and support; will advance efficiencies, security, compliance and competition through your entire organization. Teaming with Experience: Your organization should work with a vendor that can bring several years of ECM experience to the table. This results in well‐defined, long‐term goals that are enlightened and effective. Let the Problem Drive the Solution: Work with a Vendor that does not come to you with a specific idea of what product you need, but instead concentrate on specifically defining business challenges that you face. This process leads to business solutions that integrate with your standing technology investment and result in real returns for your organization. The vendor’s services should provide an independent and objective approach. Many vendors use a one size fits all philosophy. Find a vendor that is flexible and has proven methodologies to help you define a truly suitable solution. Best Practices: In each industry there are recognized best practices and leading tools that are used by organizations based on their size and demographics. Seek a vendor that has a breadth of experience to draw upon, so that you can leverage their best practices and apply them.

PITFALLS TO AVOID IN ECM PROJECTS

  • Primary causes of excessive deliberation and consequent budget overruns in ECM projects include:
  • Disagreements while building a business case for the required investment.
  • Poor selection criteria leading to difficulties in selecting a vendor.
  • Difficulties in recognizing products to match the solution components.
  • Business users rushing to install ECM products to gain short‐term benefits.
  • Underestimation of the importance of change management.
  • Inconsistencies between the requirements cited and those which govern the deployed solution.

Shon D. Mueller
Senior Account Manager

Client Vendor Partnership

I’m on my soap box again, looking for anyone to lend a sympathetic ear.  Whether it is RFP season or just engaging in the content management sales cycles, I’d like to provide some suggestions in the requirements gathering / evaluation process.

Before I begin, please take into consideration the following definitions:

Me or I = Not specifically me, but any consultant, colleague, or professional that provides knowledge in a specific area of business functions.
You or Your = Not specifically you, but any organization looking for assistance in improving business functions.

It is shocking to me how organizations invite subject matter experts to learn more about their business process that needs some TLC, and then respond by not giving full information, acting on ulterior motives, being condescending, and trying to position themselves internally as an expert by asking ultra specific offbeat questions.   It is a similar process of going to the doctor and withholding information that might lead to a more accurate diagnosis.  I don’t want to compare what I provide to life saving efforts of the medical community, but want to simplify this by stating “How can I help you if you can’t tell me what is wrong?”

My Top 4 Peeves in the Vendor Client Relationship:

  1. Get past the stigma of “This guy is trying to sell me something”.  We bring best practices, and over 400 examples of similar projects into consideration while looking at your business process.    If you are communicating in an open manner, you might be surprised at how much easier the process is and how much more value you will obtain.
  2. Don’t ask for free services / consulting / advice.  Please respect my profession, experience, and subject matter expertise.  I wouldn’t dare walk into your business and ask you to give me something that has taken you 20 years to develop and perfect.
  3. Respect my time and expertise.  If you are in an active initiative and respect my knowledge and involvement, please do not abuse it by calling me into every meeting to provide educational information when your process dictates that you have to go through a stringent evaluation process for multiple vendors and it is your policy to purchase from the lowest bidder anyway.
  4. You are correct in the assumption that I am in it to make money.  At the end of the day, aren’t we all trying to make profit for our organizations and selves?  I am not asking you to pay a King’s ransom, just an amount that is commensurate with the time spent, value brought, services rendered, AND the perceived value to your organization.

For a few laughs, but a startling dose of reality, please take a few moments to view this video that puts things in a bit of perspective.  Vendor Client Releationship Video.

Here is another related post by Tony Byrne of CMS Watch that expands on this diatribe.  Tony Byrne blog post.

As a systems integrator, we aren’t looking for any special treatment, only fair, upfront collaboration that will allow us to determine if there is value in our service offering, meeting your business needs.

P.S.  I am happy to take you to lunch but I do expect respect and a clear understanding of your fair process.

Jeff Blissett
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

How Many Organizations Have Initiatives to Truncate Content at its Source?

I’m sitting in the local IBM ECM UserNet conference in Irvine and David Caldera, Product Marketing,  is speaking about the IBM/FileNet road-map.  He has communicated, and it is proven, that there is huge ROI in deploying ECM solutions in an enterprise.   Many companies have jumped on the ECM bandwagon and have implemented storage and retrieval in their enterprise.  But, how many have taken the initiative to actually truncate content at its source?  What does this mean: truncate content at its source?

To truncate content at its source,  I am referencing an initiative to keep electronic documents as electronic documents (i.e. not printing out the Word Document or Excel Spreadsheet for review), utilize fax server technology and ingest faxes as images (ingesting faxes directly in to a capture application so meta data can be attached to it and accessed through a repository),  take in outside content as EDI and leave it as EDI (by utilizing COLD technology and storing it with users being able to view the content with template overlays),  and leave email messages and their attachments in their electronic format (by capturing the email, ingest the email’s content and strip off the attachment so that it can be preserved in the repository in electronic form).  A truly GREEN organization.

How can we help enterprises achieve this?  One method is to simplify the process that content is captured at the end user.  This may include embedding capture technology in every day applications like Word and Excel.  A simple to use “button” placed in the application that evokes a simple window that allows the user to fill in one or two key meta data fields – like Kofax currently offers with Kofax Desktop and ImageSource offers with ILINX ® Capture.  Another option is to leverage existing multifunction devices, having a capture application sweep the directory and push some light indexing or not, back to the submitter or sending it to a central data processing center.  Most importantly, capturing the content in-process!

In-Process Capture through thin client applications is the most consistent and efficient way to truncate content at its source.  Enabling knowledge workers to submit content as part of their process, versus at the end of their process.  All knowledge workers, not just high volume workers, having this capability.  Leveraging ad-hoc, highly distributed capture processes throughout an enterprise.   For example, the executive assistant who has contracts, high dollar Purchase Orders, NDA’s, HR documents, or regulatory submissions being able to commit these documents right in to the repository or workflow.  Another example, to enable agents or sales people in the field to submit claims, reports or expenses from their automobile, prior to leaving the customers parking lot, so that financial transaction can be processed immediately.

Some organizations “think green.”  Its time now for these companies to go to the next step and put their IT projects behind these eco-friendly initiatives.

Centralized, de-centralized or outsourced capture – some surprising results!

In-Process Capture… Centralized Production Scanning… De-Centralized Distributed Capture… the discussions on which strategy is best for a company when addressing their document capture needs can have interesting outcomes.

There seems to be no “right” answer, the technology choices for capture are continuously growing and changing and a company’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) needs can be very specific.   A recent research study by AIIM produced some surprising results when they reviewed the issues and potential benefits of different approaches to document capture.  Document capture encompasses document scanning, image correction, recognition of text, barcodes, form fields etc. and output to an appropriate format for subsequent processing or archive storage. One surprising and interesting outcome that AIIM states in their introduction of the report;

“The report concludes that there is a move back to centralized scanning operations, along with a greater investment in capture and recognition software to automate date capture and indexing processes.”

At ImageSource, we have also seen an increase in companies utilizing the newer model of “distributed scanning” – at the local level to office staff processing the capture documents. The value of capturing something at point of origination and placed into an imaging business process earlier does save time and money.

Allow your business needs to dictate they type of capture solution that makes business sense for your organization.  This may include multiple avenues. Many of our customers utilize both centralized and de-centralized capture – depending on their specific business needs.   We have also seen companies move towards an increase in distributed/ de-centralized capture for their 3 – 5 year strategic ECM plan.

So how do you work out what is the best approach for your needs? And it can vary from department to department within the company!  This is one of the greatest challenges the C-Level and IT staff come across when developing an ECM strategic technology plan. As an independent ECM  Integrator, ImageSource is uniquely qualified to help discover the ideal mix of Capture technology to conquer business challenges.  We help chart a strategic course, whether the business requires in-process capture, production scanning, distributed capture or mailroom solutions.

One other surprising result of the AIIM study was the statistics that shows a very strong return on investment (ROI) and compelling case for scanning and capture investments.  Capture is an enabling process that is a combination of improved user access to information and reduced costs.  The study showed that ROI for capture was reported within 12 months to 18 months! That is a significant and impressive return!  Yet the study shows that justifying ROI is still a huge impediment to adoption -one that many of our customers face when presenting the case to change “how things have been done”.

The greatest benefit of research is that it stimulates all the interested parties into discussion and planning mode.  So what ECM strategies will your company implement – centralized, de-centralized/distributed capture or outsource it!

Megan Lane
Inside Sales
ImageSource Inc.
Phone 360.943.9273
iPhone 360.481.5946
www.imagesourceinc.com

Excuses, Excuses…

There are many different excuses for not considering a document management system.  Some of the more common ones all revolve around change:

  • “change is expensive”
  • “we have to prioritize our expenditures and that document management isn’t near the top”
  • “we don’t want to change the way we do things – if we need to find something, we can.”

As we all know, humans are generally afraid of change.  We also know that the only thing constant is change itself – so the successful adapt and change.  Leaders in any industry have all adopted some sort of document management system.  It seems like no matter how simple or complicated your business process is, all have greatly benefited from a document management system.  The hard truth becomes that in order for one to plan for the future, one needs to be proactive.  When document management has been integrated with content management and workflow, the result is Enterprise Content Management.  In a nutshell, this encompasses all of the issues related to use and preservation of data within an organization in all of it’s forms.  The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) International defines Enterprise Content Management (ECM) as;

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organization’s unstructured information, wherever that information exists.”

While one uses the above ‘reasons’ in resisting implementing a document management system or putting it on hold, one should also consider the numerous benefits of such a system.  It is essential to identify the major points of pain in a company.  Benefits of ECM include:  cost reduction, security, disaster recovery, compliance and risk mitigation, and efficiency improvement.  When choosing the best specific system for one’s company, the following criteria should be considered:  ease of use; ease of integration with other enterprise systems; and ease of implementation.

Once the numerous aforementioned benefits are considered and analyzed, the decision should be clear to move towards the implementation of an ECM system and in doing so, filing the excuses away forever.

Ian Hundtofte

Inside Sales

ImageSource, Inc.

Phone 360.943.9273

www.imagesourceinc.com

Tackling ECM in Higher Education Part One

It seems whenever I meet with prospects in Higher Education I keep hearing the same thing over and over again, we have a system in this department we have another system in this department but we don’t think what they have will work for our needs. How did this scenario come to be? The answer is pretty simple, in the past, many systems in Higher Education that were chosen focused on specific departments, primarily Admission & Records and the Financial Aid Departments which were prime targets due to the large volumes of content each generated. Thus the beginnings of what we commonly refer to today as “Islands of Information” began to take place,  with each department doing their own thing or nothing at all. Today the business paradigm has shifted with departments such as AP, AR, HR, Student Services, Campus Police, Housing and the above mentioned departments now all requiring Content Management. Each department has its own unique requirements with integration into one or more ERP type of systems being quite common. Tackling all these requirements can be a challenge since the answer lies outside the traditional school of thought and requires us to  look beyond the department and expand our vision around Enterprise Content Management. How we go about doing that will be in discussed in part 2 of my next blog.

Bob Garrido
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

 

Document Capture Tools

Scanning your documents into a Document Management System is a great way to improve efficiency and reduce the amount of paper in your office.  And, depending on what kind of paper you are scanning, there are lot of document capture tools available.  Tools such as Full Text OCR, Zonal OCR, and ICR can greatly reduce time spent indexing and validating your documents once they are scanned.

Full Text OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is software that captures every character in the document being scanned and processing it into a fully searchable PDF.  One effective use of this technology is when government users needing to search hundreds of pages of agendas and meeting minutes for a certain topic.  The process of searching these documents is quite time-consuming and most OCR processing occurs overnight when there is less use on the company’s day-to-day activities.

Zonal OCR is similar in that it captures information, but in this case, the software is programmed to look in the same location or “zone” every time.  This is helpful when scanning in documents where the information is in the same location, such as an invoice number.  Most invoices are in a set format so zonal OCR is very effective in this scenario.  When the operator is validating this information, the Zonal OCR zooms in on the zone area that has been predetermined where the information is captured from so they can easily read if the information captured is correct or not.  Hence, one of the biggest advantages of Zonal OCR is that it improves the efficiency of searches which translates into a savings of both time and money.  Some software available that features Zonal OCR also allows the user to draw a box to establish a zone around required text rather than typing in keywords therefore allowing the document to be automatically indexed.

ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) is the ability for the software to read hand-written information and process this into searchable information.  This is especially beneficial in the financial industry.  And although this tool can be very useful in some situations, the error rate is much higher because handwriting is so varied from person to person.

Andrea Latham, CDIA+
Inside Sales
ImageSource, Inc.
Phone 360.943.9273
www.imagesourceinc.com

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Use ECM Training to Maximize Your Investment!

Have you ever bought a VCR, Stereo, DVD Player or any high-end electronic gadget?  It normally comes with a fancy remote control or interface with multiple options on it but all you really want to do is watch a movie. You would be just as satisfied for the moment with just two buttons, “stop” and “go”.  At home the extra functions may improve our lives or they may not.  They might be just for fun.  But either way what extra features you don’t use or know about, doesn’t hurt you..usually.

Many companies approach their imaging systems the same way. It does what it does from the day it was enabled, it works and that’s it. When they hear about other peoples’ systems, they wish their system could have similar functionality… and maybe it does, but who has the time to figure that out?

Take the time to maximize your investment!  It was worth it to someone in your organization to make the investment initially, so why wouldn’t you use it to its full potential?  Well you might not for the same reason humans don’t do most things – a shortage of Time .  Time is important and once you dive into exploring your current software who knows how long it will take or if what you are focusing on will benefit your existing process?  At ImageSource, we have found that the most important and undervalued item with an imaging system is training.  With professional training, concerns can be addressed in a focused environment and a structured time frame. Our most successful customers realize the benefits and importance of training, both initial and on-going training.

Often when customers contact us looking for additional hardware and software, we can ask some probing questions and discover that the issue may resolved by scheduling a consulting day to review their installation and recommend best practices for their environment.  Paying for one or two days of training is definitely less expensive that investing in additional hardware and software products that may not even be successful.

Taking responsibility for your components isn’t easy, and you can simplify the process by receiving professional training/consulting that will inform, educate and assist you to the right path of choice sooner rather than later.  Additional training and professional services consulting are offered at ImageSource – you might be surprised what is discovered!

Professional training provides knowledge.  Knowledge is power.

Andrea Latham, CDIA+

Inside Sales

ImageSource, Inc.

Phone 360.943.9273

www.imagesourceinc.com