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)

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We Love Our Customer Partners!

Here at ImageSource, we are ecstatic about our Customer Partners! We call them Customer Partners because we believe that they are all truly partners of ImageSource. Together, we’ve been able to accomplish some pretty awesome things.

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AP and Government: Explore Your ECM Solutions

Join ImageSource’s VP of Product Development, Randy Weakly, as he presents solutions for automating and improving your processing methods.

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ImageSource: A Fujitsu Premier Partner X 9

Fujistsu_PP_2012

Fujitsu Premier Partner of the Year

In June, ImageSource was named Premier Partner of the Year, 2012 for the Western Region by Fujitsu Computer Products of America. This marks a whopping ninth time ImageSource has earned this status.

You could say, without question, that ImageSource likes Fujitsu scanners. We like them because Fujitsu invests in R & D and quality control to ensure an exceptional product line that continually evolves to meet the demands of an ever changing capture landscape.
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Shar Pei, Weimaraner, or Rotweiler…Which Breed Are You?

Whenever I hear the word “breed” in any context, my mind automatically goes to dog breed for some reason. I can’t help it, but my mind starts to wander and think of Miniature Pinschers and Bloodhounds. At my company, we tend to use the term “best-of-breed” to describe the types of systems and solutions that we implement for our Customer Partners. This simply means that we determine what their needs and goals are, where their pains lie, and decide what the best technology is to fit those needs and goals and to hopefully reduce a number of their pain points.

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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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Rule Your Data with IBM Datacap Taskmaster

AIIM’s (Association for Information and Image Management) research reveals that 40% of organizations that implement a Capture Solution will achieve a ROI within 12 months.  AIIM separates capture software into 3 categories: Ad-hoc image, batch image and batch transaction. There are many capture products available but one in particular I would like to discuss is IBM Datacap Taskmaster Capture software which is classified as batch transaction.

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300 Million Pounds of Frozen Vegetables

If you haven’t seen our National Frozen Foods customer success video yet, take a break for less than 3 minutes and see how this corporation that produces over 300 million pounds of frozen vegetables a year utilizes their Enterprise Content Management system to increase their business efficiencies.

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What Helps Make IBM’s Watson So Smart? Content Analytics

If you got to see IBM’s Watson compete on Jeopardy a few months ago, you probably thought that it was interesting that a computer could compete (and win) against humans in a game show. What was not as apparent was the technology behind Watson, or how it could be applied to solve business challenges and provide insight into the massive amounts of unstructured information in your organization.

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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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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.

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.

Do You Know Where Your Records Are? Are They Safe?

Just recently I attended a thought provoking round table discussion involving records management. I, being directly immersed in enterprise content management, have bypassed the times when people stored physical records in an outside storage facility or in cabinets upon filing cabinets solely for records. Oh wait, that still exists!

One topic of discussion was what to do during a disaster. What do you do to save all the paper records when there is a flood or a fire? The various answers ranged from putting them in a trash bag if it involved flooding or putting your records in a freezer if there is a fire. These do seem like practical solutions but I’m not sure how efficient this would be when you are racing against a fire or flood and there are thousands upon thousands of papers that need to be saved for a million dollar corporation.

I do understand the physical storage of paper and it is a practice that has been around forever, but now there are alternative solutions that will not only bring a great return on investment but also you do not have to stress about these “what if” situations. The solution is going paperless with Enterprise Content Management.

Did you know:

  • The cost to manage a 4 drawer filing cabinet costs $25,000 on average. (futurelawoffice.com)
  • It costs $20 to file a document
  • It costs $120 to search for a misfiled document
  • 7.5% of all documents get lost and 3% of the remainder get misfiled (Inc. Magazine)
  • Companies misfile up to 20% of their records (ARMA International)

If you implement an Enterprise Content Management system, these systems are designed to capture, manage, store, deliver and preserve structured and unstructured content.
If you are worried about who will have access to these records and documents, ECM is the answer. You can create restrictions so only certain people are allowed to access certain content.
If you are worried about the retention schedule of your records, ECM is the answer. ECM enables automation of records management so after the 5 year retention period comes up you will get a notification to dispose those records.
If you are worried about your files getting ruined from water or fire, ECM is the answer because you no longer  have to worry about maintaining physical copies.
And an ECM system can allow you to access your information from remote locations with multiple people accessing that info at the same time.

The possibilities are endless!

If you think Enterprise Content Management and going paperless sounds like the ideal solution then you are right. So come and explore the possibilities and capabilities of the various ECM technologies at our Nexus ’11 ECM Solutions Conference in Bellevue, Washington and we will help you get on the right track.

Tracy Lim
Communications Manager
ImageSource, Inc.

Building an ECMEcosystem™

The goal of any Enterprise Content Management initiative should be to provide business value that aligns with the overall business strategy of your organization. Our goal with our customer engagements is to help them become more operationally sound by implementing application solutions which enable our customers to serve their customers better. We recognize that the four most important aspects of any business are:

  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Business Processes
  • Business Content

The last three on the list service the first one and if a company’s customers are dealt with in an effective manner that company will grow and prosper and everyone will share in the rewards of that effort.

Over the last 17 years, the biggest challenge we’ve seen our customers and potential customers face is figuring out where to begin in initiating content and process related projects. It is for that reason that we have developed the ECMEcosystem™ methodology and service offering to help eliminate the complexity associated with that task. The objective of our ECMEcosystem service offering is to provide your organization with a road map outlining the hi-value content and processes that either drive revenue or incur cost so that you can make the most informed decision on which projects to initiate first and how to go about executing those projects.

The final report we generate from our ECMEcosystem engagement will outline current processes and also provide recommendations for improvement based on industry best practices and benchmarking, a business case is also included which is almost always necessary for ECM project justification. The final document can be used to identify which departments and processes to target for operational improvement first and / or used as a Request for Proposal (RFP) template to engage software and services vendors.

Cass Holloway
VP, Oracle Solution Sales
ImageSource, Inc.

Oracle ECM 11g and Accounts Payable – Integrating Technologies

Accounts Payable is a document intense department with complicated workflows and approval processes. Although our world today is going digital, AP departments are still bogged down by a majority of documents (purchase orders, invoices and supporting documentation) coming in paper form followed by manual routing and approval processes,  keyed data entry to the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, and the physical filing and storage of documents.

While ERP systems handle the information they are designed to process very well, they do not have the capacity to manage data and images simultaneously or perform complicated workflows.  By automating the entire AP process organizations can reduce labor requirements, lessen storage costs, decrease late fees, increase early pay discounts and improve vendor satisfaction.  And because Accounts Payable touches almost every department it is a great launch pad for ECM technology providing a large impact on the organizational business processes and substantial ROI.

ImageSource is an ECM integrator with vast experience implementing Accounts Payable Solutions and an industry leader in implementing the Oracle 11g technology.  Most recently we completed a project for a large manufacturing company integrating Oracle 11g ECM technology with the Accounts Payable system, Oracle Enterprise Business Suite.  As a manufacturer poised for growth due to multiple acquisitions, they were looking for a solution that could handle the increase in invoices without increasing staff.

With Oracle EBS already in place, Oracle 11g was the perfect ECM solution. Oracle’s Solution Accelerator enables such a tightly coupled integration that it makes the two technologies ideal for integration. The result is an Accounts Payable system that has provided an efficient system for imaging, processing and viewing documents related to AP with a reduction in overall labor.

The manufacturer receives over 8,000 invoices a month, 80% in paper form and the other 20% through email and fax.  All are now processed by Oracle Document Capture and Oracle Forms Recognition (OFR) when received.  Oracle Document Capture scans the document and Oracle Forms Recognition automatically extracts relevant data and does some basic validation. The document is then automatically sent to Oracle ECM for more validation and storing of the image. Due to the sophisticated logic with code and BPEL workflows, the system performs all kinds of checks, and is able to move information  from Oracle ECM to Oracle EBS without human assistance. Knowledge workers can stay in their familiar EBS system and reference any invoice they need by clicking on the recognizable paper-clip.  EBS pushes the parameters to the ECM repository and brings back the search results in a web link.

The ease of processing invoices has been improved dramatically. What used to be a manual process of keying in information is now completely automated. The only time an invoice needs any type of processing, barring exceptions, is the physical act of scanning it in. After it’s scanned the Oracle OCR technology adds the appropriate index fields and the Solution Accelerator automatically moves it through the system for validation and storage until it is available to view through Oracle EBS.

Debbie Horton
ImageSource
Communications Director

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

A Higher Ed Solution You Don’t Want to Miss…

In the 90s, a lot of Higher Ed institutions acquired document imaging systems to get rid of the volumes of paper from student files, accounting records, human resource documents, etc.

Times are changing now, and there are demands for student portals, integrations with Student Information Systems, the ability to capture electronic transmissions, the need for extensive workflows, and quite frankly, the ability to work more efficiently. More work has to be completed by less people. In most cases, staffing levels have been reduced.

The problem is, most systems currently installed in these institutions were built by Hershey, ImageNow, Nolij and other client server technology software manufacturers, and were built for specific purposes, primarily to eliminate space.

However, In order to meet the demands for campus-wide ECM solutions, there is a need to move from client server platforms into true n-tier architecture products, where standard document imaging has been integrated with Web Content Management, where records management and digital asset management is all part of a suite of products. Content needs to be ingested at the beginning of the process and pushed to knowledge workers.

In today’s world, content is not about scanned pieces of paper, it is not about bar code indexing, or OCR technology.  Universities are demanding products that are versatile and can be supported by a light IT staff.  The cost to repeatedly introduce an RFP for every IT need has been realized.  The requirements now set forth in an RFP for content management solutions far surpasses the ability of the traditional scan, store retrieve systems of old.

The new technologies available in Enterprise Content Management platforms will be demonstrated at the ACCRAO conference in Seattle, the 14th through 16th of March.  At booth 106, you will see how a student portal will work.  At the ImageSource presentation Tuesday evening at 5pm,  you will see the inner working of the system designed for San Jose State University, due to go live early spring.

Terry Butler
Chief Solutions Officer
ImageSource, Inc.

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

City of Kennewick Launches ECM Solution by Streamlining City Clerk & Payroll Processes

The City of Kennewick, Washington, looked to an ECM solution to help streamline processes. Because of changing economic conditions and a shrinking tax base, Kennewick needed their business processes to enable them to do more with their current resources. As one of Washington’s most progressive cities, Kennewick recognized that implementing a core Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system would help them meet this goal.

To read the entire case study, visit http://imagesourceinc.com.

Organization:
City of Kennewick
www.ci.kennewick.wa.us

Industry:
City Government

Solution:

  • Workflows for Agenda & Payroll
  • eForms

Challenge

  • Required to do more with current resources
  • Paper-intensive processes
  • Manual routing for approvals laborious & expensive
  • Documents difficult to locate
  • Duplication of documents
  • Payroll process labor intensive & error-prone
  • Excessive storage space required

Key Benefits

  • Flexible workflow allowing various approvers depending on need
  • Documents easy to locate and always available
  • Changes are easily accommodated
  • Agenda ePackets are easy to build, distribute to Council & public
  • Most current version of documents accessible across all departments
  • Reduction in storage
  • Infrastructure for storage & electronic workflow can be leveraged city-wide
  • Integration with existing Payroll system improves accuracy
  • Intuitive indexing & validation
  • Automated data entry
  • Payroll processing reduced 90%, or more

Products

Kristina Parma
Communications Manager
ImageSource, Inc.

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.

The Future Direction of ECM – Oracle 11g

Today I participated in a very interesting webinar today by Andy MacMillan, VP Product Management, Oracle, regarding the release of the much anticipated latest ECM offering from Oracle – 11g.   The speculation is over and it is upon us.  Contrary to popular buzz, they haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater and alienated their current clients of the previous IPM versions.  Yes, you can still use a SQL database.  The product is well thought out, clean, and is a true platform play for enterprise deployments.  It is refreshing to see a vendor make a stand against the lower tier, point solutions and talk about extensible architecture that can be used against multiple business processes and span applications.

The workflow / BPM might take a bit of time for clients to get their arms around, but I do believe, once they do, it will be embraced.  The concept of using the BPM platform for imaging across all applications should simplify the implementation of workflow and replication across multiple business processes much easier.  Also, the open integration to MANY line of business applications, in a loosely-coupled manner is a good change from the hard coded integration of the past.  This should make upgrades in the future much easier.

At first glance, and from what I have seen from our test lab, 11g is a complete solution, open and integrated, and a cost effective solution that is well thought out.  There will still be a period where the previous version makes sense to deploy from an experience and proven technology basis, but I’m confident that 11g will be a solid foundation for the future.

As mentioned, ImageSource has 11g installed in a test lab and has been putting it through the paces.  We will be helping clients determine the best strategy and timing for migrations.  We have already developed tools, such as ILINX Export to help in the migration of data.  Please let us know how we can help you in your go-forward strategy.

Stay current by monitoring the ImageSource website for helpful hints and information on our blogs and twitter posts. For more information, please take a look at www.oracle.com/goto/IPM  and also http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E15523_01/ecm.htm

Jeff Blissett
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

jeffb@imagesourceinc.com
www.imagesourceinc.com

  

Tackling ECM in Higher Education – Part Two

In Part One we talked about the problems encountered in Higher Education with departmental solutions, now let’s talk about how to fix it or more importantly how to prevent it from happening. The answer actually is pretty simple, if your thinking about implementing an Enterprise Content Management Solution then narrow your search to those companies that provide these products.  The term Enterprise Content Management is used very loosely today but by true definition is defined as:

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”.

This new term is intended to completely encompass the legacy problem domains (i.e. “Islands of Information”) that have traditionally been addressed by records management and document management. It also includes all of the additional problems involved in converting to and from digital content, as well as to and from the traditional media of those problem domains (such as physical and computerized filing and retrieval systems, often involving paper and microforms).

Finally ECM has employed the technologies and strategies of (digital) content management to address business process issues, such as records and auditing, knowledge sharing, personalization and standardization of content. These products are also built on n Tier Architecture which is very scalable and provides easy integration into ERP products and supporting products mixes such as Enterprise Fax Solutions, Electronic Form Products and so on. Here at ImageSource we have built a plethora of tools under the ILINX Products Family that ties all the pieces together both effectively and transparently to provide a seamless solution.

Finally let’s talk about the cost, one of the questions I always hear regarding ECM is how much will this cost? There is no question a true ECM Solution will be more costly than a Departmental Solution, how much more really depends on the customer and how widely across the Enterprise they choose to deploy it. The good news is, you don’t have to do it all at once, and here lies the real attraction of a true ECM Solution, you can start small and eventually grow it to the Enterprise and not worry if this will meet my needs in two years. So ask yourself a simple question when evaluating Content Management Solutions, should I pay a little more upfront or pay less only to find out it will not meet ones needs in a couple of years and finally, think about the costs associated with migration of all that content you already have stored that will need to be moved over when your current solution can no longer support your organization.

Is ECM a Green Technology?

Going green is getting easier as technology develops.  The “paperless office” utopia is still being developed but the amount of paper can be, and is being dramatically reduced due to document imaging and content management solutions.  It is a fairly straightforward concept – if a business process begins with physical paper, why not scan it, index it, and store it where multiple people can access, it is secure, traceable and auditable, and it adheres to your corporate records policy?  This concept does not only save your organization money, but it does reduce the environmental impact of doing business.

It is easy to see the savings in industries such as Health Care and Financial Services.  In Health Care the green factor and carbon footprint reduction relates to the courier cost, fax cost, copying cost of duplicating patient records and insurance correspondence.  This is a huge magnitude when you consider the general health of the population.   Financial Services green footprint is also correlated with courier and copying but also in the workflow process to route documents.

There is great information published on this topic at various sites such as AIIM , and also at AIIM.  There is also interesting case examples at  New and Good in ECM.

Distributed scanning  can also have a directly positive impact on a green initiative.  Capturing documents and data at the point of creation or receipt will save on shipping and courier services which also impacts the environment by reducing the oil consumption in transportation.

The digitizing of documents greatly reduces off-site storage costs which also has a direct effect on oil consumption used in the transportation to and from the storage facilities.

Much of the transition from paper to electronic comes with the paradigm shift from physically handling paper to viewing documents and data and routing them from the computer.  This takes time and facilitates true change management disciplines but the amount of money, efficiencies, and resources saved can be tremendous.  To be successful, you need to plan for the initial pushback from the knowledge workers.  In the beginning, they might even print more than what they were before the implementation.  If change is managed correctly, the users will adopt and embrace the efficiencies.

The going green concept is growing and is a focal point of the upcoming Nexus ECM Conference held on Nov 2-3 in Bellevue, WA.  Take a look at the Nexus Agenda for some of the “green” sessions.

Comments and feedback welcome.

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

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – Las Vegas Conference Day 1

The 2009 Microsoft SharePoint Conference held at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas has officially kicked off.  It has attracted around 6,000 attendees from around the world.

SharePoint 2009 Conference Badge

SharePoint 2009 Conference Badge

ImageSource exhibited recently at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, we will round out this month with attendance at Kofax Transform in San Diego and we will be exhibiting at IBM On Demand at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, which begins October 25th and runs through the 29th.

Then the Annual Nexus Enterprise Content Management conference begins November 2nd and runs through November 3rd.  I look forward to seeing you there and hope you can attend some of the breakouts that I will be speaking at, check out the agenda here.

I attended several break-out sessions today at the SharePoint conference and wanted to highlight some of the exciting announcements coming from Microsoft & KnowledgeLake.  First I attended ECM for the Masses – How SharePoint Delivers on the Promise.  Key areas that everyone who has followed Microsoft SharePoint has considered as gaps in true ECM functionality are starting to be addressed.

  1. Records Management:  SharePoint 2010 comes completed with a revamped Records Center, that includes the ability to create taxonomy schedules and import existing schedules using CSV files.  Microsoft is calling this Managed Metadata.  More importantly there is now a Unique Document ID that is created for each content item.  This Document ID is stored in the database and follows the content item regardess of where the original content is stored or migrated to.  This will also make integrating with 3rd party Line of Business applications such as ERP, CRM or Cloud based computing platforms.  Other key features include Document Sets that allow you to create work packets/packages, Advanced Routing to determine appropriate library or folder with predefined RM metadata.  Check in / Check out, Legal Holds, Folksonomy (tags created by individual users, that can be re-used)
  2. Web Content Management:  In context editing, by implementing the Ribbon UI, familiar to Office 2007 users, authoring and editing exisitng web content is a snap.  Rich media support for photos, video and audio files has been updated with a new slice of cool SilverLight that allows web developers to skin the player to match the rest of the sites branding.  Also included are web analytics that allow site owners to monitor traffic and size of the site(s).
  3. BLOB: binary large objects, for years ECM practitioners and tenured professionals have known that storing large image files in the database is a no-no.  This architecture created real scalability problems for SharePoint 2003 & 2007.  Although it was somewhat addressed with EBS, external blob storage support in 2007.  It was still a sticking point for enterprises looking to deploy large SharePoint solutions to support 100’s of millions of content items like TIF files.  KnowledgeLake did a nice job of using EBS techniques in their software to bridge the scalability issues.  With SP 2010, RBS or Remote Blob Storage is now support at the API level.  This will allow third party storage vendors to create fully pluggable storage architectures that can be used to reduce SQL database growth, advance SP scalability and much more.
  4. Workflow:  For many who have used third party workflow engines and tools, the out of the box capabilities of earlier versions of SharePoint were lackluster.  In SharePoint 2010 you can build rules based workflow routing for individual content items and document sets based on document actions.  Most of the workflow demonstrations I saw were modeled around records management processes.  I will have to seek more information on this as the conference progresses.

I also attended KnowledgeLake: ECM on SharePoint 2010 – Features that rock!  by Chris Caplinger.  This was very well attended and I learned about some of the key Server & Scalability improvements to Indexing, Search/Query and the aforementioned EBS/RBS architecture.  Chris gave a sneek preview of the new KnowledgeLake Viewer based on SilverLight, very cool.

Shadrach White
Chief Technology Officer
ImageSource, Inc.

Benefits of System Integration

Enterprise Content Managment solutions can be expensive.  I have talked with many organizations who see just the cost of implementing solutions and see the benefits as just faster retrieval of information stored in the system.

Integration of your ECM solution with your line of business systems can greatly improve the return on the invstment that you have made in ECM.  Think about how often you are researching employee data in your Human Resources System and suddenly realize that you need actual documents that relate to that data.  You have and ECM system, the problem is that it is not connected to your HR system.  At best you toggle back and forth between screens to get everything you need (maybe clicking on the wrong application and taking extra time. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could access the documents directly from your HR system?

Integration of systems contributes to business intelligence.  How often are you collecting information from multiple systems, often wondering if you have it all.  Sometimes this is just an annoyance.  Sometimes it can be a very expensive annoyance.  Integration used to be a complicated time consuming endeavor.  Now, with integration solutions such as ILINX Connect http://www.imagesourceinc.com/Products/ILINXProducts/ApplicationIntegration/index.htm a single solution can be used to integrate multiple systems using the same procedures for each integration.  How easy can it get?  Want to learn more?  Nexus 2009 http://nexusecm.com/index.htm is coming to Bellevue, Washington on November 2-3.  Come to Nexus and learn more about how integration of your systems can help your bottom line!

Kathleen Fish
ImageSource, Inc.

Document Scanning Best Practices

Content Management Systems are one of the most useful resources companies have available to keep their managers, staff, and customers informed. Managing those files effectively is an ongoing challenge, but a well-planned, best practices implementation makes it significantly easier. Most Content Management Systems start with Scanning as the starting point in the lifecycle of any document. The decision of whether to go with a centralized or distributed scanning model must be carefully evaluated to see which may be a better fit for the organization. Many times a hybrid model of both remote and centralized is required and becoming more popular. When it is done designed and implemented correctly scanning ensures that the data stored in the document management repository is valid, readable, secure, accessible, and useful throughout the enterprise.

Some important things to remember when deploying document a document scanning system:

  • Establish clear goals and objectives before you start or deploy a Document Scanning System.
  • Establish clear and concise business rules around your company’s requirements.
  • Consult a well established Systems Integrator with the knowledge and expertise to help you with defining “Best Practices for Document Scanning” and always check references.
  • Understand the nature of your documents, the quality of many documents may be poor, this in turn will require you to use Image Enhancement Technologies that will automatically clean up the document and improve its readability. These types of technologies are a must especially when utilizing OCR or any advanced form of capture.
  • Scanning and especially the Indexing of documents can be somewhat laborious, so anything to help automate these tasks such as Bar Coding, OCR, database lookups and electronic forms will make life a lot easier.
  • Use the KISS Principle in dealing with data taxonomy and avoid capturing too many fields, but make sure it’s enough to do valuable searches.   Here at ImageSource we try to have 10 document types maximum and 8 data fields which allows for effective searches, retrieval and reporting.

Lastly, don’t lose sight of your short and long term goals, do your homework and study your documents and see how they fit into your business lifecycle and corporate governance. Talk with people throughout you organization and get their input to better understand your documents are used. Finally, if you’re unsure get help, this is not an area where you can afford a mistake. Remember, it all starts with getting information into the system.

Bob Garrido

Senior Account Executive

ImageSource

ECM Best Practices: Document Capture

We are going to start a series of blogs called the “ECM Best Practices” series. This series will cover a range of topics for the next six weeks, including ECM Training, Hot Trends in ECM, Document Scanning, Document Capture, Green Solutions and Integration with ERP.

This week, I am going to focus on Document Capture. Document capture makes life easier and allows us to get more done with less time and fewer resources. Manual processes are both labor intensive and time consuming. Document capture allows employees to perform tasks with speed and accuracy.

Companies today need to look at utilizing Distributed Capture in addition to Centralized Capture. Distributed capture gives organizations the freedom to scan and capture information at remote locations, instead of mailing documents to one central location. Having a central hub is important in scanning, but having distributed capture in addition is necessary to reduce costs, improve accuracy and save time.

One of the hottest capture products on the market today is ILINX Capture. ILINX Capture is a web-based capture product that allows you to capture information anywhere, anytime, any place. Compared to traditional capture products, ILINX Capture costs significantly less and takes less time to deploy and train users. This thin-client application is perfect for small to medium-sized businesses who are looking to improve efficiencies, or for large businesses who are in need of a capture product that can handle large volumes of documents.ILINX Capture

On November 2nd and 3rd, ILINX Capture will be showcased at ImageSource’ s annual ECM Solutions Conference, Nexus, in Bellevue, Wash. This conference is a great opportunity for anyone who is looking for educational content and industry-specific training. The conference will have speakers from Microsoft, Oracle, Cardiff, Bowe Bell & Howell, as well as from ImageSource. There will be a breakout session on Distributed Capture, a two-part session on the new ILINX products, including ILINX Capture, as well as a keynote on the importance of capture.

To register for Nexus, or to learn more about the conference, visit www.NexusECM.com.

To learn more about ILINX Capture, visit www.ilinxcapture.com. For additional information, read this blog post about ILINX Capture.

Kristina Parma
Corporate Communications Manager
ImageSource, Inc.

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Distributed Capture Allows In-Process Workflow Enablement

In traditional capture environments, organizations are submitting their documents, whether in fax or scanned form, in batches.The ability to submit ad-hoc documents using existing hardware like MFPs/MFDs or scanners is the current momentum in enterprises. Reaching beyond this takes forward, out of the ordinary thinking.

How would it be in an enterprise organization to actually place a single document into their local MFP/MFD and submit that work directly in to the workflow allowing the documents to be processed that same day? Inserting lab orders from physician’s offices directly to ancillary services? Placing a new account opening document directly in the workflow queue to get approval and an account number? Scanning bills of lading at the shipping and receiving dock and having them go straight to accounts payable and automatically matched with the P.O.?

We’ve seen many large financial services organizations start to leverage in-process distributed capture in an ad-hoc collection and capture form. Having a simple user interface, minimal clicks at the front panel of an MFP/MFD, as well as very little learning curve has been essential. What could your organization do if everyone could easily scan/import documents so they could get placed in the repository, data base, legacy system or workflow right away? How many millions of dollars would be saved? How many redundant workers would be allocated to jobs needing more workers?

Michelle Semple
Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

 

Infonomics Article ECM

Dan Hooper of Integrated Services Inc. recently contributed and article to the July.August issue of Infonomics Magazine.

July.August 2009 Cover

July.August 2009 Cover

The article focuses on the importance of developing a strategy for managing information and content.  So often organizations focus on the technological features of an ECM platform or software solution and not the business processes and people that will need to adopt change in order to successfuly implement a new ECM system.  Whether your looking to implement a Document Management, Content Management, Document Capture, eForms, Web Content Management, Business Process Automation or Document Imaging solution it is important to understand that a key difference between success and failure is user adoption through effective change management and executive leadership.  You can dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s on the technical front evaluating a software solution but if you don’t understand how it will affect the user community, what policies and procedures you will need to revise and how you will market the solution internally you could end up winning the battle and loosing the war.

Another key element to a successful ECM strategy is a committment to future upgrades, enhancements, technical support and ongoing training.  A well managed ECM strategy should constantly evolve over time.  Many organizations who invest in an ECM solution from an initial purchase and implementation standpoint do manage to meet many of the goals and objectives of the original project.  The challenge comes when the project is complete, users are working with the new solution and the implementation partner has fulfilled its obligations.  At this point many ECM solutions are not upgraded consistently, new employees don’t recieve the same level of training and new technologies are not incorporated to enhance the functionality of the solution.

I look forward to reading the next column’s on this topic.  Thanks to Dan Hooper and AIIM for publishing this article.  Many of these topics will be explored and discussed during Nexus 2009 held in Bellevue, WA. November 2,3

Shadrach White
Chief Technology Officer
ImageSource, Inc.
ILINX Capture

ECM Integration Services Ensure Successful Solutions

Finding the right integrator for your ECM project might be the most important decision you make. Because the technology in this industry can change dramatically over a short period of time it’s vital to have the most up-to-date information, technology, and product choices from experts that allow you to take advantage of the advancements.

Look for an integrator with a commitment to best practices and who is vendor neutral so they are able to recommend the appropriate solution for your business. Purchasing direct from a manufacturer may not provide the best solution and won’t examine all of your options from the both the price and functionality perspective.

A knowledgeable ECM integrator enables organizations to link their enterprise content management system to legacy business content. By making information available within your line-of-business applications you can greatly simplify access, eliminate redundancies and makes information much more accessible.

With the right integrator your system can keep evolving over time, obtaining the greatest return on investment possible. ImageSource is an experienced integrator providing project management, systems design, integration support, training, consulting and support services to help organizations with the implementation and on-going support of their ECM technologies.

Debbie Horton
ImageSource
Corporate Communications Director

 

The Importance of ECM Education

We all know that the economy is not as robust as it was two years ago.  That is a fact.  It seems that the immediate reaction when the economy slows is to cut back on “non essential” items.  The question is, what is essential and what is not.

The obvious answer is that items that directly produce revenue are essential and everything else is not.  Often the ECM strategy for an organization is to “limp along” with the status quo and not to spend money on upgrades, updates or even education.

The down economy will not last forever.  Would it not be wise to position ourselves to take the best advantage of new opportunities when they arrive?  One of the best ways to do this is to study the ECM environment and to learn about new trends, new solutions, and new methods.

When the economy rebounds, organizations who have prepared will be able to move quickly and move ahead of the competition by deploying new and innovative ECM strategies.

Educational events abound.  Many are very expensive and should be examined in terms of their potential value.  However, there are values in the arena that should be taken seriously.  These events offer “best of breed” presentations on a variety of ECM and management related topics.

A good example of such an event is the annual Nexus conference sponsored by ImageSource www.nexusecm.com  Nexus is a two day event that provides information on all aspects of ECM including Software, Hardware, Project Management, Records Management, Business Analysis, Planning, and Return on investment.  Attendees learn about Capture and Integration and to participate in general discussions about ECM.  Additionally Nexus provides an opportunity to network with ECM peers.

This post may seem to be directed at organizations that may or may not fund education for their employees.  But the same ideas apply to the individual.  If the company won’t fund you, think about investing in yourself.  Wouldn’t it be advantageous to be a few steps ahead when the job market expands?

Think ahead, do you want to be stuck with the status quo, or do you want to be poised to take advantage of a rebounding economy?

Kathleen Fish
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

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Is ECM for Me?

Is ECM for me? This is the question each organization needs to ask themselves before implementing a Enterprise Content Management solution. I came across an interesting post by Ian Llado of Optical Image Technology titled “Six Considerations in Choosing an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Solution for your Legal Practice” that addressed this. His descriptions were more specific to legal offices and legal documents, but they can really be applied to any organization. Below are a few ideas he presented, as well as a few of my own.

1. Ease of the System
The easier, the better. Customers are going to want something that is easy to use. If employees have to learn a whole new process and new technology, it better be as simple as possible. Change in an organization can be very stressful and difficult for some employees, especially if the new technology is complicated. It’s good to provide customers with a solutions that is simple, as well as offer training and instruction about the system they are receiving.

2. Leveraging Existing Software
In today’s economy, everyone is looking for ways to cut back where they can. Many companies already have some technology in place, they just don’t know how to use it. Or, if they have multiple technologies, they don’t know how to use them together. This is where hiring an ECM integrator can be very valuable. It’s good to hire an integrator who is knowledgeable in many different technologies so that if you have Microsoft, Oracle and Kofaxproducts, the integrator will be able to help you decide how best to utilize each of those, as well as how to use them together. In many cases, there is no need for a complete ECM makeover. Many companies already have the necessary technology in place.

3. Functionality
The amount of functionality customers need will vary depending on their needs and situation. Some of the examples Llado presented were indexing and retrieval, workflow, Web-based systems, scalability, and retention and destruction schedules. All of these are important and can be applied. It really just depends what companies are looking for in an ECM solution.

5. Training
ECM training is one of the most crucial components of implementing an Enterprise Content Management solution. Choosing a vendor that offers extensive training of your new system is always valuable. Some vendors will even train customers at their own sites.

6. Customer Needs
You as a customer need to evaluate what your company’s needs are. The more precise you can be, the better. If you can tell the vendor exactly what your company is looking for, they will be able to give you a more specific solution that can satisfy your needs. Llado discusses security as one of the things to consider, but again, it’s all based on customer needs.

7. The Bottom Line
The whole idea behind implementing an ECM system is to streamline your business processes and make everything much easier and compliant. Other benefits could be saved staff time, reduction in employees, etc. However, may companies measure success through their return on investment (ROI). The faster you can see a return, the better.

If you’re still having trouble deciding if Enterprise Content Management is for you, attending an ECM conference can sometimes be very valuable. NEXUS ’09 will be offering a breakout session titled “What You Need to Evaluate Before Installing an ECM System.” To register for this event or to get more information about NEXUS ’09, visit www.NexusECM.com.

Kristina Parma
Corporate Communications Manager
ImageSource, Inc.

 

 

Build vs. Buy

Over the course of my last 12 years in the Enterprise Content Management space, I have seen many progressions and changes.  When the industry was in its infancy stages, we relied on specialized PCI cards to drive the scanners at rated speeds, high resolution graphics cards to display clear images on a monitor, and every system installation needed holy water sprinkled on it to ensure that there weren’t any compatibility issues or conflicts with the operating system.  There were hundreds of software vendors that claimed to be the premier document imaging / document management / scanning / (whatever new term that AIIM came out with) system.  Systems were sold, installed, and many failed.  We have seen progressions where the hundreds of vendors have consolidated to a few leaders that are recognized as true ECM platforms.  We have seen Microsoft enter the market with SharePoint which has driven the need for a new wave of products and services to bridge the gaps in its functionality.  Along with these progressions and changes with the vendors, we have also seen how internal IT departments look at ECM.

In the beginning, there was many components, many moving parts, and technology that the IT staff wasn’t readily familiar with.  As the first and second generation systems were installed, the product sets matured where the IT staff technology professionals could be trained in a platform that was sustainable.  As this progressed software vendors could switch their focus from making the systems work in a rudimentary sense, and switch the focus to the development of features and functionality that led credence to aspects such as compliance, accountability, governance, and security.  The successful Tier 1 vendors (see Gartner report for leaders) now have scalable products that address all aspects of ECM – document imaging / document management / web content management / forms management / records management / workflow – Business Process Management.  With this, training is now readily available to equip any IT staff with the tools and resources to maintain and build upon systems where compliance, accountability, governance, and security are all part of the core.  Knowledge and education are now key determinants for success.

With this knowledge and education comes empowerment to the IT staff.  In the industry today, I am seeing an increasing number of corporate IT staffs choosing to forego their existing systems and internally build components that allow them to store, retrieve, maintain, and manage scanned images and data.   I understand that there are many talented programmers and systems architects in the workplace that are capable of building database management functionality and that can build user interfaces that allow for searching file structures.  What I don’t totally understand is the value to organizations when a top resource is consumed in developing a product / system and maintaining and supporting the product / system.  It has taken Oracle Stellent, IBM FileNET, EMC Documentum, OpenText (to name a few) each over 15 years to come up with a product offering that is stable and that meets 85% of most organization needs without customization.  Why reinvent the wheel when there are cost effective, proven solutions that can automate business processes that will show efficiencies and pay for themselves over time?  There are many technology focused companies that have invested multi-millions of dollars, and many years  in developing methodology and products.   I don’t know how an organization that is focused on their specific expertise – retail, manufacturing, healthcare, banking, can morph into a software development / systems delivery organization.

Build vs. Buy – no correct answer, but definitely worth discussing.

Feedback welcome.

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

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