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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What ILINX Has in Common with Two Giants: Alibaba and Apple

I read a post recently titled Customer-centric and easy-to-use is the new business model (The Alibaba story) that really hit home. The author, Gerry McGovern, a customer-centricity guru, points out that Alibaba, the world’s biggest online commerce company, has defined a clear mission of “making it easier to do business across the world”, as founder Jack Ma put it. I think it’s safe to say that this model has merit, as the company claims the biggest IPO in the history of the world.

As a long-term Apple user, (my first Mac had a hard drive with 512 KB memory) I can say that their progressively intuitive interfaces have been a compelling reason for me to continue using their technology. In fact, the Macintosh project started with an Apple employee named Jef Raskin who envisioned an easy-to-use, low-cost computer.

Apple has stayed true to this model to present day, according to technology industry analyst Jeff Bajarin. In an article published by Time Magazine, Bajarin outlines six key principals that set Apple apart from the competition, three of which are: Continue reading

11 Questions to Ask in Order to Buy the Correct Wide Format Scanner

At ImageSource, we have many customers who call in asking for information on Wide Format Scanners. Selecting the right Wide Format Scanner for your needs is imperative, as manufacturers do not normally provide evaluation scanners for you to test.

I always recommend that customers review a software webinar demo before buying these larger scanners. The software functionality and ease of use is an important differentiator between scanner manufacturers. The incorrect software combined with a scanner that does not meet all your needs can be a costly investment that cannot be returned to the manufacturer. In this category of scanner, the cheapest price tag does not necessarily mean the best fit!

There are some basic questions that we always ask our customers in order to qualify what scanner(s) is the most appropriate. I would like to share these to help you with any future selection processes/decisions.

  1. Do you need B&W, Grayscale, Color capabilities?
  2. If Color is required, is it Color critical (such as photos and art work), or simple color (such asline drawings or printed maps)?
  3. What is the largest size original you will be scanning?
  4. Is speed important? Will this be production scanning or just occasional scanning?
  5. Approximately how many scans per month?
  6. What condition are your originals in? Poor (folded with a lot of background), Medium or Good quality?
  7. What kinds of media will you be scanning? Paper, blueprints, Mylar, stitched linen (very old documents), maps, etc.
  8. Do you need thick document scanning capabilities?
  9. Do you need a stand and catch basket?
  10. Will this be a scan-to-file application or do you need scan-to-print (copy) functions as well?
  11. Will you need to edit, modify or convert any of the images into CAD or GIS file formats?

We have been working with the major Wide Format Scanner manufacturers for many years so we are here to help give our expertise for any questions you may have. ImageSource will make it easy for you and guide you towards the “best fit”.

We are here to help!

Megan Lane
Inside Sales Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

Transactional Content Management – a catalyst for business process improvement

Despite the massive amounts of investments made in information technology there is still a need for businesses and organizations to continually ask the following questions on four main strategic business drivers:

  1. Reduce Costs: How can we complete “X” process in less time and with less cost and less labor?
  2. Increase Revenue: What can be done to improve the customer experience while shortening the sales cycle and improving our gross margins?
  3. Risk & Compliance: What must be in place in order to prevent unauthorized access and/or actions to our systems and data? What ability do we have to audit and report on the activities within the system?
  4. Competitive Advantage: What can be done to give our customers a “WOW” experience? What can be done to reduce the time from sales order-to-cash to improve self-funding our growth?

The strategic business drivers listed above when reduced down to their basic elements often translate into some type of process that is driven by documents and data. There are many systems that help affect this change like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM); however, they can often times fall short because they are great at processing data, they just aren’t equipped to deal with documents like an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system.

What is Enterprise Content Management or ECM? The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) Continue reading

Tired of entering the same information over and over?

Wouldn’t it be nice to supply your doctors’ office with all your pertinent information only once? And then, after you have entered the information, that information would then automatically be populated into all of the required forms and systems necessary? Now it is possible; by using products that are part of the ILINX Suite offered by ImageSource. ILINX eForms is a user-friendly, web-based software that allows you to easily capture information from a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone. It has a lean engine that automates the routing, tracking and approval for data extracted from forms across an enterprise. Imagine the amount of time we could save by entering information only once instead of entering the same information over and over. Want to learn more? Watch this ILINX eForms demonstration to see this tool in action.

April Gentry
Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

ILINX – the new ECM software kid on the block!

Since my entry into the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) industry in 2001, the biggest challenge that I see for any company is to turn their ECM investment into one that is utilized across the enterprise, and not just for the benefit of one department. After all, that is the whole point of an enterprise system solution. When the whole enterprise benefits, it reduces total cost of ownership and the promise of a return-on-investment (ROI) is realized.

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Paperless Processes: Capturing Documents of All Types

Paper-Wars2013-Cover

AIIM – Winning the Paper Wars

I found the latest research paper from AIIMWinning the Paper Wars – capture the content and mobilize the process troops.”  to be an interesting read, especially since I have seen many of the points discussed when working with our customers—specifically with growth areas in mobile capture, OCR, BPM/Workflow and AP/AR processes.

I am happy to say that the report addressed not just scanning paper records but also looked at the hundreds/ thousands of external paper documents that flow into a company every day.

At ImageSource we help address capture via ILINX Capture®  Many of our customers have experienced progress towards “paper-free processes” and are achieving payback of their investment. If you are looking at addressing some of the issues that were discussed in the report – feel free to reach out to ImageSource…or me…

Megan Lane
Inside Sales Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

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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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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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

San Jose State University Enrolls Students with Oracle and Peoplesoft SIS

San Jose State University Campus

There is a new way to process students into Universities that are using Peoplesoft SIS. It is called WebCenter Content and it is built by Oracle.  The first installation in the country is in full production at San Jose State University (SJSU).
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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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Utopia ECM

Utopia ECM (Enterprise Content Management) can be defined many different ways.  My definition is when the ECM system is so intertwined with the business process and business software applications that one really can’t exist without the others.  The users of the systems don’t even think about the fact that they are using ECM technology. Here are some examples:

  1. The sales rep submitting an expense report and scanning their receipts into an electronic workflow, doesn’t even think of the technology that they are using to start a business process.
  2. Traveling executives can retrieve, review and approve invoices and expenses from their laptop computer in a hotel room anywhere there is an internet connection.
  3. The employee on the order fulfillment line pulls up the supporting documents for the order details and instructions directly from their business application, but the source of documents were really from an integrated ECM system.

Remember how things like this used to happen without imaging, document management, workflow and system integration?
This concept of Utopia ECM became very apparent to me recently in an upgrade and migration project for an existing customer who is moving from an antiquated ECM application to ILINX.  It made me actually stop and wonder how they went from the simple concept of creating an electronic file cabinet, to a system that is virtually integrated into every department and many of their business processes throughout the company.  What I found out is that they took things one step at a time and have been sticklers about the following: 1) You get what you plan for, not what you pay for and 2) select vendor/supplier partners who have your best interests at heart.  The rest is just details.

Utopia ECM, isn’t that what we all want for our businesses?

John Smetana
VP, ILINX ECM 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.

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.”

 

Invoke Change

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit a former colleague that I hadn’t seen in almost 15 years. This individual works for a company that happens to be one of the top 5 hospitality organizations in the US. I can remember, like it was yesterday, having just graduated from school and being granted the opportunity to work as an operations analyst for this company. At this capacity, I was responsible for reviewing a multitude of business units, tasked with seeking areas for operational efficiencies and cost containment (an assignment that is not too different from my role today). Recalling how convoluted some of their paper processes had been at the time of my employment is what prompted the recent consultation with my friend. Today, I work as a sales consultant for ImageSource (www.imagesourceinc.com), a major ECM solution integrator and software manufacturer. I felt that, with my current knowledge, I might be of use to them. After all, I have helped numerous organizations with similar problems.

I could not believe my eyes. I walked into the Shipping & Receiving Department to meet my friend, the Director of Procurement. To my surprise, they are still manually receiving goods from paper content, and then walking down the hall, down the stairs, and submitting this paper to the Finance Department. Upon receipt, the Finance Department manually enters the invoice data and cross references the content with the paper sent to them by Receiving. In darn near every major business unit I walked through, there were paper and files overflowing off of desks. I couldn’t stand it anymore and felt compelled to ask my old friend a question… ”Why are you doing it this way? With all of the technical innovations within the enterprise content management space available to you today, why not leverage one to streamline the processes here?” My buddy replied… ”I’ve been here for 30 years and that’s how we’ve always done it.”  Sadly, my dear friend was layed off just a few weeks ago.

This reminded me of an interesting story:

A very old traditional brewery decided to install a new canning line, so as to enable its beer products to be marketed through the supermarket sector. This represented a major change for the little company, and local dignitaries and past employees were invited to witness the first running of the new canning line, which was followed by a dinner banquet at the plant.

After the new line had been switched on successfully, and the formalities completed, the guests relaxed in small groups to chat and enjoy their dinner. In a quiet corner stood three men discussing trucks and transport and distribution, since one was the present distribution manager, and the other two were past holders of the post, having retired many years ago. The three men represented three generations of company distribution management, spanning over sixty years.

The present distribution manager confessed that his job was becoming more stressful because company policy required long deliveries to be made on Monday and Tuesday, short deliveries on Fridays, and all other deliveries mid-week.

“It’s so difficult to schedule things efficiently – heaven knows what we’ll do with these new cans and the tight demands of the supermarkets…”

The other two men nodded in agreement.

“It was the same in my day,” sympathized the present manager’s predecessor. “It always seemed strange to me that trucks returning early on Mondays and Tuesdays couldn’t be used for little local runs because the local deliveries had to be left until Friday…”

The third man nodded, and was thinking hard, struggling to recall the policy’s roots many years ago when he’d have been a junior in the dispatch department. After a pause, the third man smiled and then ventured a suggestion.

“I think I remember now,” he said. “It was the horses… During the Second World War fuel rationing was introduced. So, we mothballed the trucks and went back to using the horses. On Mondays, the horses were well-rested after the weekend – hence the long deliveries. By Friday, the horses were so tired that they could only handle the short local drops…”

Soon after the opening of the new canning line, the company changed its delivery policy.

There is a valuable lesson in this story for all of us.

I believe that it’s easy to fall into routine. Let’s challenge ourselves to question what we might do as individuals to better our companies. How can we invoke necessary change? Perhaps your company is trapped in a state of inefficiency (like many others), utilizing an archaic process. Given present economic conditions, it’s imperative that we remain competitive and relevant, or it could cost us our own jobs. 

The method that we may have used 30 years ago may not be the best one today. When was the last time you checked for movie times in the newspaper? Today, I use my IPhone. When was the last time you called your travel agent to book a flight? I just booked mine online this morning. Do you still keep Thomas Guide in your car? I use Google Maps.

Invoke change. Change keeps us relevant.

Ed Figueroa
Sr. ILINX Account Manager
ImageSource, Inc.
http://www.imagesourceinc.com

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

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

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.

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

  

The Next Killer App for ECM

Enterprise Content Management for the most part has become mainstream business.  The ability to scan documents from remote locations has been made increasingly easier by applications such as ILINX Capture and other web based scanning applications.  Indexing documents has been simplified with ODBC compliance and the maturity of systems integrators capabilities of integrating with ERP table structures.  System standards have allowed for ECM repositories to interface with ERP sessions where the users can work heads down in their legacy application and retrieve / view images from their desktop with little to no knowledge of the ECM application – see ILINX Integrate.

Accounts Payable has been the traditional starting point for most organizations in testing the waters for document imaging because it has a definable process, set business rules, and shows a reasonable ROI depending on the number of received images, discrepancies, and time it takes knowledge workers to process invoices.  Other repeatable processes include Contracts, Sales Order Processing, Legal, Shipping / Receiving, and HR Personnel Files.

What will be the next Killer App?  In the past 2 years we at ImageSource have seen a great deal of consideration in HR on-Boarding process.   Understandably, it costs a lot of money to bring in new employees and involves a great deal of resources.  From the application process, to the processing of I-9 information, setting up payroll and direct deposit, insurance, issuance of equipment (laptop, cell phone, scanner) it is no slight undertaking.  Standard ECM solutions as well as products from Autonomy (see Liquid Office), this process can become automated and affordable for most organizations.

From there, where do we go?  With the adoption of smart phones, almost everyone has a camera in their pocket at all times.  This can allow for the capturing of data – snapshot of a document, whiteboard drawing, and presentations can be captured immediately and then fed into the indexing process for ECM.  This expands the reach of content capture and protects the loss of important information.  Technical architecture is now compatible and flexible to allow for almost anything.  Nexus 2010 will provide some great ideas and visions for upcoming solutions.

What is next?  Feedback is welcome.

Jeff Blissett

Senior Account Executive

ImageSource, Inc.

jeffb@imagesourceinc.com

How ECM Solutions can help Reduce Your Organization’s Cost and Carbon Footprint.

Happy New Year! Let’s go to work on Monday and save some trees and the environment! With the New Year upon us, it is a good time to review the way your organization manages its manual paper processes, i.e., Invoice Workflow, HR documentation, etc.

It has been my experience that once an organization has made the decision to investment into an Enterprise Content Management solution, they have significantly reduced the amount of manual processes, which in turn reduces cost and streamlines a once slow manual process. While this is a great thing and usually the main reason organizations make this investment, many have not considered the environmental benefit that an ECM solution can bring. I reflect back to the time that I worked in an office, that did not employ such technologies, and I remember all the paper that I used in order to share information. Did you know that the average American office worker is estimated to use a sheet of paper every 12 minutes—a ream per person every two and a half working weeks—and to dispose of 100-200 pounds of paper every year? Think about that statistic!  That is just one employee. Studies have also shown that the number of pages consumed in U.S. offices is growing by about 20% each year. This is huge when you think about this on a national and global scale. Because of this unnecessary paper creation, forests are being depleted and there is more pollution due to the creation and disposal of this paper. Over the years we have all gotten a little more conscious about recycling, however, only about 45% of the paper generated in the U.S. is recovered.

So with all of this said… what the solution is? One solution is to capture documentation when the document enters the organization. One can do this by using ILINX Capture to scan the document, once this is done the document no longer needs to be copied or recreated, it is now in electronic format. Better yet, if the document is email or faxed, ILINX can pull right from the source, electronically, and it never has to be printed at all, viola you have already saved a tree. That handles the capture aspect, but what about sharing information. Instead of a having a 200 page document copied five times to reviewed in a meeting, through ECM it can be easliy scanned an distributed electronically with our Image/Process Management Software. Now, I can write about many other bad habits that are due to not have having information electronically, but let’s talk about some real numbers. A Global Manufacture estimates an up to $10 billion cost reduction in the coming years through digitizing many of its processes. This company also has identified approximately $1.5 billion in potential cost-savings, WOW! A large Gas Company has saved 100 tons of paper and $320,000 through the use of making their processes electronic. A Global Aerospace company estimates savings of 8 million sheets of paper and $250,000 by digitizing one of its 100-page manuals.

So, when we all get back to the office from the holiday season, rethink what you do and what your organization does when it comes to collecting and sharing information. If you feel like you would like to learn more feel free to contact us ImageSource.

Happy New Year!

Shon D. Mueller
Senior Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.
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.

Enterprise Content Management Brings Efficiencies to Government

In a press release dated December 3, 2009, Governor Gregoire announces several significant reform measures to ensure Washington State delivers services more efficiently and effectively. One area of focus is information technology opportunities.

“Wide adoption of IT shared services allows agencies to concentrate on mission-critical needs while achieving savings through economies of scale and standardization,” said Tony Tortorice, state Chief Information Officer. “This is better for the agencies as they work with fewer resources to provide better service, and it’s better for Washingtonians who will receive better service at a lower cost.”

At Nexus 2009, the ECM solutions conference hosted by ImageSource, two government entities received ECM awards for improving services and creating efficiencies in their daily operations.

The recent ImageSource press release, dated November 10, 2009, highlights the two ECM solutions. Below are highlights from the press release.

The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) received the award for Best Use of Complementary Technology for a solution that automates the routing, monitoring and management of imaged checks and supplementary documents received by DFI.

“This solution assures that all checks and supplemental documents are imaged almost immediately, facilitating the rapid deposit of checks received by DFI.” said Ron Seymour, CIO, Washington State Department of Financial Institutions. “Being recognized at the Nexus conference highlights DFI’s commitment to develop technology that benefits the State of Washington,”

The City of Richland received the award for the Largest Return on Investment for an ECM solution that streamlined their agenda process by creating electronic workflows.

“Technology is rapidly changing how cities in Washington can gain efficiencies, improve processes, network and share information. Our objective is to make Richland a leader in information management,” said Jon Amundson, Assistant City Manager, City of Richland. “We are honored to be recognized by this award which demonstrates the economic benefits this technology can bring to the City and its constituents.”

Debbie Horton
ImageSource
Communications Director

 

 

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.

Using ILINX to Integrate with ERP Systems

Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERPs) integrate all data and processes of an organization into a unified system. A typical ERP system will use multiple components of computer software and hardware to achieve the integration. A key ingredient of most ERP Systems is the use of a unified database to store data for the various system modules. Most ERP Systems implementation require the standardization of business processes to match the system modules. Although this standardization is difficult during the first implementation, upgrades are quick and relatively inexpensive because of the standardized processes and modules. The process improvements this type of standardization enables are substantial. An imaging system allows you to bring this standardization of processes to your document handling.

ILINX Integrate is designed to complement a wide variety of enterprise systems. One of the biggest uses of ILINX is to provide imaging or document management functionality as a ‘bolt-on’ to existing ERP platforms. When the system integration is done right, most users do not even know they are using ILINX Integrate.  It simply appears as if every needed document is stored right in the ERP system.

In addition to the ROI provided by the imaging itself, it also allows the most basic business processes to be enhanced through workflow applications. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) provides financial software that facilitates sharing information within the company whereby all departments or divisions can see what is transpiring elsewhere in the company. ERP provides transparent information management so that every division is apprised of events as they happen.

Integrating ERP with document imaging technologies using ILINX power and transform a business into a dynamic enterprise.  To learn more about how ILINX products can enhance your current solution, please register for Nexus.

Andrea Latham, CDIA+

Inside Sales

ImageSource, Inc.

Phone 360.943.9273

www.imagesourceinc.com

 

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.

 

Distributed Scanning – Sales Perspective

“This is going to be the year that document imaging really takes off.  This is the year…………. “.  The adoption of storing files with a standard naming convention on shared drives is still being forced around corporate America when the technology has been around for 20 years to securely scan, index, store, and retrieve in a single repository.  What makes us think that the concept of having scanners at every desk or even on the same physical floor is going to catch on in the 20 years?

“When it is easy enough for the CEO to scan documents from his office, we know that document imaging is mainstream. “ In the industry, we have all heard this claim of the past 20 years.  We have had visions of every organization, big or small, regardless of industry, deploying scanners and efficiently capturing paper documents at the source of receipt.  Multi-Function Devices (copiers that scan and fax) have now become mainstream where most people are comfortable in scanning a document and feel comfortable with the concept. – This is the easy part.  The reason we still fight with adoption is that traditional document capture  software that allows for the scanning  and indexing, has been difficult to understand, use AND had to be loaded on every person’s desktop that wanted to scan and index their documents.

Internet security, reduced file sizes, increased bandwidth, web services, and development of web parts have all been in development high gear.  Companies that have been focusing on these technologies and disciplines have made significant breakthroughs in the Distributed Capture / Remote Scanning marketplace.  See Kofax, Cardiff, EMC / Captiva, ImageSource / ILINX, Oracle / Captovation, ReadSoft.  Out are the complex interfaces that require understanding of terms such as batches, document classes, OCR.  In are the simple interfaces that allow for the scanning at a push of a single button, simple drop down menus, and few key strokes.  Web based scanning applications should be commonplace where the user can scan a document from anywhere, provide simple indexing functionality, start a workflow, and have the document committed to the secure repository.  The concept of “collecting” documents and taking / sending / Fed Ex’ing them to the mail room or scanning supervisor for processing is now not necessary / antiquated / a big waste of time.  The technology is here and now.

Distributed Capture solutions should be thin client, scalable, not linked to a page count, able to support multiple ECM systems, and require little to no training.   This shouldn’t be too much to ask.

How long is it going to take to get the message out to the masses?  Will this be the year of distributed capture?  Comments and feedback welcome.

Jeff Blissett
Senior Account Executive
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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Benefits of Enterprise Content Management In A Slow Economy

ECM is a maturing technology.  In the early days, solutions were built to meet the needs of a single department .  Index fields were often pre-defined, allowing very little flexibility for expanding the solution throughout the enterprise. While the only option in those early days was to purchase separate, departmental systems, the result was siloed solutions, redundant costs, and a compliance and records management nightmare.

The industry has matured.  Solutions now use open standards and are designed to be flexible in terms of application design, workflow processes and integration with Line of Business Systems.  Major ECM software platforms such as Oracle, IBM, EMC, and  are designed to be deployed to the enterprise..  The top ECM vendors are experienced at analyzing business processes and designing their solutions to meet the needs of each department within the enterprise, while at the same time providing the ability for each department to search across the enterprise for needed information.   The ability to design and deploy such solutions provides better records management, compliance and business intelligence.

In a slow economy, major cost savings can be realized if organizations will deploy ECM technology in a well planned, strategic manner.  Premier vendors of ECM technology offer education in the form of webinars, white papers, case studies, and ECM conferences. These educational offerings can expand the confidence and knowledge of organizations evaluating ECM solutions.  Any cost incurred by attendance of these educational events and programs will pay for themselves many times over in costs saved by avoiding  labor and redundancy.

It seems that now is the time for organizations to really examine their ECM strategies with the goal in mind of leveraging ECM technology to help the survive and thrive in this economy.

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Multi-Function Peripherals: “How do you support large scale deployments?”

Large organizations will deploy thousands of multi-function peripheral (MFP) devices throughout the enterprise. These devices may be from one manufacturer or several, depending on budget, purchasing processes and authority:

In large organizations purchasing copiers and MFPs can happen in stages.  If well coordinated, one manufacturer/model will be standardized on through a competitive bidding process.  This is not always the case and often several purchases can be made over a budgetary cycle and from different groups or departments.  This can lead to multiple manufacturers/models being supported in different departments by the IT organization.  Each manufacturer and model will have its own software, APIs and configuration procedures required to deploy the devices.  Training programs will have to be created to support the many models and features that users will want to use.

Over a 2 – 5 year period the devices could be replaced with newer models that come bundled with new software, APIs and configuration procedures.  This creates a real challenge for enterprises looking to deploy MFPs on a large scale.  How do we best take advantage of the new features and configuration options?  How does IT manage the content that is being generated by these devices?

Many times MFPs are purchased as part of a generic copier or printer replacement initiative.  Consequently there is no unified, consistent mechanism for integrating them into the enterprise content capture infrastructure. If done well it could enable the enterprise to use of the MFP devices, faxes, and existing desktop scanners with a consistent, common interface for the user and allow for integration into backend content repository architecture.

Most of these organizations have standardized on ECM software platforms that enable the capture, indexing, storage, retrieval and retention of content both electronic and physical.  Production and Desktop scanning capabilities are being used in a controlled way to support capture of both structured and unstructured content.  But few have managed to merge the MFP technologies and capabilities with the current ECM platforms.

MFPs are simply not considered a platform due to the technology changing or being updated by manufactures each year.  One approach is to do it at the operator panel, but when the current device is retired the new model will likely require a new setup or custom software development using the new manufacturer’s API to achieve the same operator control.  A more long term and standardized approach would be to integrate a software platform that can standardize the collection of content from any MFP anytime anywhere.  Take the customized panel, APIs and software add-ons from the manufacturer out of the equation and provide a documented configuration to the new manufacturer/model when new devices are purchased and rolled out.  Create a specification in the bidding or RFP process that states here is how we need you to configure your MFP’s functions to integrate with our Enterprise MFP Capture platform.