Process, technology and people are three words that often intimidate many organizations. This is despite the fact that the three words express a formula for implementing successful document management systems (DMS) and electronic content management (ECM) solutions. In order to successfully deploy these and other document process management solutions, as well as drive ongoing operational efficiency, all three of these elements must be addressed.
Recently I met with an organization that felt one of its existing suppliers was doing a good job. However, the supplier was only engaging people and technology (to a degree) in its service offering. I immediately noticed that process, and more important technology-enabled process, was lacking. The main reason the supplier had not addressed process was that it was following the old adage – “if it's not broken, there's no need to fix it.”
The organization and I agreed that the supplier was meeting all of its service level agreements. However, the supplier was also operating with the same staffing levels and technology for the past couple of years. There were no attempts being made to improve efficiencies or question why certain functions were being maintained.
An effective business process outsourcing (BPO) partner will often question requests made by its client. The purpose of these questions is to insure that the actions being proposed are aligned with the client’s business goals. For example, instead of just agreeing with document scanning requests, I might ask about the origin of the documents along with the purpose of creating digital copies. I have received an amazing range of answers to these two simple questions. But just because a BPO provider may have the capacity, technical ability and available staff hours to perform the work the client is requesting, such as scanning documents, does not mean that the provider should blindly agree without investigating if the proposed activity is helping the client meet its business goals.
Process, technology, and people must complement each other. When they do, a company’s DMS or ECM solution can operate at optimum efficiency and provide maximum benefits. As I have said previously, a true BPO partner will try to continually ensure that its solution is generating a positive impact on the client’s bottom-line.
In future posts I will talk more extensively about these three words, and how they can help organizations improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. If you are interested in learning more, our website, http://www.cbps.canon.com offers insight into effective document management strategies and document process best practices.
I remember a time when the USPS, FedEx, UPS, and others were flush with the delivery of documents. In matter of fact, businesses received so much paper, that an enterprising entrepreneur developed an Electronic Document Management platform (based upon NASA technology) to solve this problem. Now, these documents deliverers mainly handle packages, and what is commonly referred to as “junk mail.” So, where is the paper and what is the impact on Electronic Document Management systems?
We all know that the USPS is losing billions of dollars annually due to the ever decreasing amount of correspondence and documents moving through its system. This has had a direct impact on the inbound digitization of paper in to document management systems. However, the amount of documents received by organizations continues to increase. How can this be? You can thank the “Internet.” Whereas in the past companies have had to digitize the paper their customers sent to them, nowadays it arrives already in digital format. But the impact to document management systems, several years ago renamed to Content Management Systems, is still a concern that organizations must address.
And the primary reason companies must stay vigilant is that these “documents” are typically business critical records. That is why it is imperative to partner with a supplier that not only understands this paradigm shift, but also knows best practices for effectively and securely managing electronic documents. Additionally, a good solution provider should be prepared to assist its clients in formulating a strategy to migrate existing paper records to a full electronic form, and transform the remaining paper documents (yes, there will always be those people who will continue to use a hardcopy format) into intelligent documents.
So don’t necessarily look at it as end to an era, rather look at it as an evolution. A sound business process outsourcing (BPO) provider will possess the vision and expertise to ensure their clients evolve, instead of becoming extinct.
A strong BPO offering from a proven records, document and content management outsourcer can improve an organization’s operating efficiency as well as help contain costs. If you are interested in learning more, our website, www.cbps.canon.com offers records management center best practices as well as insight into the full document process management lifecycle.
Personally, I don’t like paying upfront for something I don’t want or may never need. Take extended warranties for example. Everyone knows that most of the time they are not a good deal for the consumer; rather they are cash cows for the supplier. And no one wants to have a warranty tacked on to a purchase without notice or without having a say in whether it is included in the final price. So why then would an organization be open to having a 1-2% fee added on to its monthly services contract, versus just being charged on an “as used” basis?
We are currently working with a client to develop an off-site electronic document scanning solution to replace the company’s in-house operation. Another supplier has come back to the company and added on a monthly fee to cover rescan work up to a fixed percentage. This client has come back to us requesting the same arrangement. Now I like making money as much as the next person. But, since I do not like paying for things I may or may not need and/or use, I have an issue charging my clients for services that I may not perform.
When sourcing services from a business process outsourcing (BPO) or office document scanning provider, be sure to keep honesty, integrity, openness, and fair practices as evaluators. Sometimes it may seem like a struggle to have to review a long laundry list of services and costs to determine what the final charge may be. But remember, a reputable organization will only charge for the services rendered, and charge you at a fair market rate. Hidden and/or extra fees are often signs that you may later be charged for other extraneous services.
A strong BPO offering from a proven records and document process management outsourcer can both operating efficiency and the bottom line. Our website (http://www.ocesolutions.com) offers additional insight into the most effective document management strategies.
I have been thinking about the future of document management, and electronic document scanning specifically, for a couple of months now. As an employee of a managed business process services organization, this aspect of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is of significant interest regarding the direction to be taken over the next several years. Specifically, what does the future hold?
There are two areas of our economy that I believe provide insight as to what that future direction will be. First, look at the USPS and its current struggles. Overall mail volumes are declining steadily year over year. This means that there are fewer documents, i.e. paper, that must be scanned by organizations. Less paper means less onsite scanning opportunities for business process outsourcing (BPO) providers. The future from this perspective does not look promising. Second, web-based and mobile technologies are expanding exponentially. I read today of a new app for iPhone that allows the user to take a picture of a document (piece of paper), crop the image down to size, and email the image in PDF or two other file formats. That type of functionality, and convenience, coupled with the ability to do anything and everything on the web - means that paper documents are becoming obsolete.
However, because not everyone has access to technology, or necessarily trusts technology, paper will not be going away totally anytime soon. In matter of fact, paper documents are still a critical conduit of information in today’s society ─ just not as important or prevalent as in the past. So, where does that leave businesses struggling with the legacy of paper? How does all of this impact BPO providers, and how can they continue to provide a valuable service to business?
Business still must rely upon content, hence why ECM is more important today than ever. Only today, and in the future, organizations do not have to rely on the vehicle – in this case paper – coming directly to them. Organizations today should no longer dedicate valuable space to the capture of paper documents. Rather they should entrust other, specialized organizations to provide the digitization resources and just forward to them the all-important content within those paper vehicles.
BPO providers thereby have the opportunity to provide shared services environments to digitize the paper. This environment affords the organizations using their services economies of scale and lower cost structures. Lower costs for businesses result in improved profitability and operating efficiencies. The BPO provider is able to exercise its expertise and provide valuable conversion (and hosting) services. And the content – which is king – still is available.
The future is still bright for the BPO world, it is just evolving. And those that do not evolve do not survive. The evolution is upon us now and will continue for some time, but rest assured content will forever drive both business and service.
A strong BPO offering from a proven document process management outsourcer can not only improve operating efficiency but also have a significant positive impact on the bottom line. If you are interested in learning more about effective document management strategies, our website (http://www.ocesolutions.com) offers insight in to the management of the full document lifecycle.
While indexing is a necessary requirement of document and content management systems, it’s also a process that many find confusing. I have worked with clients who have implemented indexing processes that include over 15 index fields ─ ten index fields plus making the document full-text searchable. I’ve also worked with clients who have stated, “Oh, just write the images to this shared drive; we do not need index fields.” It seems that some executives believe that indexing is either a required function so they can search innumerable ways to find a document (they are either afraid the electronic document will get lost or they’ve had trouble locating the correct hardcopy document in the past). Others have the attitude that “I just need these documents digitized and if I ever need to find them I’ll toggle through this database. How hard can that be?”
The truth is that electronic documents need to be indexed in order to accomplish the three “R’s” ─ Retrieve the image, Route the image or Report on the image.
The most crucial “R” is the ability to retrieve the image. It is not efficient to scan documents based on the hope that you’ll be to find an image somewhere, someday. Additionally, if you need to have more than five index values in order to narrow down and locate your document, you have bigger issues. A good standard or best practice to follow is to have only key, unique, identifiable metadata assigned to a document image. This typically results in five or fewer index values for a document image.
A properly assigned index value is also necessary to accurately routing a document image within a workflow application. The key data elements that allow for identification and retrieval of documents can often be used for routing the document to the appropriate work queue. As an example, for an accounts payable operation the dollar amount could begin the workflow process, or in a human resources application an applicant’s education level could be used to route a resume to specific folders. Routing documents to their appropriate and respective work queues, folders, and processes is a key function of indexing.
Finally, accurate and appropriate index values enable a document and content management system to report on that image. Both internal and external audits can be facilitated by retrieving the requested documents, and only the requested documents, through utilization of the index values. Management can gain insight into the volume of specific document types by utilizing the index values of document images. And, effective work processes, forecasting activities and historical data reviews are all based on having the right index values assigned to document images.
There are many ways to index a document image, but only three criteria need to be considered when developing the indexing schema. It’s important to remember that all decisions affecting the indexing function have costs associated with them. For this reason, we approach indexing from the perspective of the three “R’s”. I have discussed this in other blog posts, but it is important to remember – work with a knowledgeable staff that has the depth of expertise to insure you are getting the most financial return on your investment.
A strong business process outsourcing (BPO) offering from a proven records, document and content management outsourcer can not only improve an organization’s operating efficiency, but also have a significant positive impact on that organization’s bottom-line. If you are interested in learning more, our website (http://www.ocesolutions.com) offers insight digital imaging management and other document process management best practices. My future posts will continue to highlight document management strategies that can help support your organization’s success in the days ahead.
ROI – in these economic times organizations are looking not just to save money, but to receive a payback as quickly as possible. A recent study performed by Nucleus Research states that for every $1 an organization spends on electronic content management (ECM) processes, it can average $6.12 in payback. That is an astonishing 612% return on their investment! Some may get less than that, but some will see more. At Océ Business Services, we use methodologies that help assure our clients realize a payback on their investments with us.
As I pointed out, for many organizations the issue is not simply that they realize a return on investment, but when. Most organizations want or need money now. It is for this reason that it is important to quantify all costs that will be offset by investments in ECM technology. In order to help quantify these costs we perform a detailed needs analysis.
A good needs analysis doesn’t just investigate immediate capture, storage or retrieval requirements, but takes into account many other factors. For this reason, we approach a needs analysis from all avenues. It is important that any business processing imaging (BPI) or business process outsourcing (BPO) provider understands the upstream and downstream processes that influence their client’s investment. This understanding can only be realized by a true partnership between the client and the provider’s team of experts. I have discussed this in other contexts previously, but it is important to remember – organizations should team with knowledgeable outsourcing providers that have the depth of expertise to help them achieve solid returns on investments.
A strong BPO offering from a proven records, document process and content management outsourcer can help improve both an organization’s operating efficiency as well as its bottom line. If you are interested in learning more about digital imaging management and related document management strategies, please feel free to visit our website at www.ocesolutions.com
In my future posts more examples of BPI/BPO will be forthcoming.
Bundling – it is everywhere these days. Phone companies, cable/satellite companies, even video game manufacturers talk about bundling. Basically, they are all trying to get us to buy as many of their offerings as possible, under the impression we are receiving a deal. In the records, content and document management arena, bundling is also evident – but for a much different reason. And often times it is truly a good deal!
Let me take you back to the beginning, the early 1980’s, when document management was first emerging as a business application. Just about every supplier in the market offered everything organizations could possibly need. Most of it was rebranded, but a significant amount was proprietary. I remember being able to purchase a scanner, capture software, optical platter jukebox, and an electronic content management system all from one vendor – with the vendor’s name attached to all of the solutions. As newer “open” systems and targeted original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) began to hit the market, the practice of bundling pretty much vanished.
Today, when we talk about bundling in the records, business process and digital imaging management arenas, we are talking about two different perspectives. The first is really a modular approach to offering software solutions. A majority of OEMs long ago determined that there are certain companies that not only specialize in specific applications, but are downright great in what they produce. Though consolidation continues to play a major role in the records and content management market, vendors are not requiring organizations to buy the whole lake, rather they can purchase by the drink. It is important to note that a good content/document management OEM will also offer a records management component. If you do not ‘bundle’ anything else, definitely be sure to include a records management module in your system. We strongly encourage all of our clients to have a current, comprehensive, and robust records management tool as part of their content and document management platform. Remember – regardless of media, a business document is also a business record that must be managed appropriately.
The second description often used in our industry for bundling has to do with how and where services provided, such as a “hybrid processing solution” that combines onshore and offshore document processing capabilities. A solid, global, progressive and forward-thinking business process management (BPM) provider will have the capacity to provide content and document management services in a way that best fits the client’s needs. At Océ Business Services, we can offer our clients a best-shoring approach in providing document capture and management services. By bundling options such as onsite and offsite capture services, we are able to provide clients with a cost-effective solution for handling their document processing needs. As an example, one client company, which utilizes our onsite document capture services, routinely acquires other companies. Instead of trying to integrate these new, one-time document capture requirements into the existing operation, we perform the services the client needs at one of our regional imaging centers. Coupling this with our ability to also offer offshore scanning and indexing services enables us to offer a true best-shoring, or bundled services offering.
A strong BPM offering from a proven records, document process and content management outsourcer can improve an organization’s operating efficiency as well as to help significantly reduce costs. If you are interested in learning more about records information management systems, our website (www.ocesolutions.com) offers insight in to the management of the full document lifecycle.
One aspect of my job that I love is visiting new geographic locations, along with meeting new and interesting people. While I enjoy this immensely, I am sure that the people I encounter might not feel the same way. The reason is that they are often seeking a solution to a business problem that is very important to their organization as well as their livelihood. They have no idea who this person is that just introduced himself and shook their hand. This is one of the reasons why professional certifications are so important.
Many organizations have certification programs in records, content and document management. Such organizations include CompTIA, ARMA, AIIM, TAWPI and XPLOR. The requirements necessary to receive various certifications can range from attending a one-day seminar to accumulating and verifying years of experience in a given discipline. But the one thing the certifications all have in common is that they are offered by recognized industry organizations whose certification processes are developed and administered by industry professionals. Additionally, they all require that the individual receiving the certification has work experience related to the subject matter.
Any organization looking to engage a business process imaging (BPI) provider, for example, should inquire about the provider’s professional certifications. (BPI, which focuses on the document intake activities associated with mission-critical processes such as handling insurance claims, is critical to effectively managing these processes.) Certifications help delineate between suppliers that have solid industry knowledge and experience, and those that are merely business analysts. I am referring to certifications from independent organizations, not from OEMs. This demonstrates that the certification holder (i.e. the provider) has a broad knowledge and understanding of all aspects required of a records and document management solution strategy. Additionally, the provider will not be tied to any one product offering, but can offer you independent solutions that best suit your unique business needs.
The people I meet in my travels always inquire about the initials on my business card. After explaining what they mean and what was required to obtain each certification, I can see a look of relief on their faces. They are now reassured that the person they just met has the expertise to assist them in addressing their records, content and document management needs. So, I suggest taking the time to find out if your suppliers have certifications relevant to your organization’s needs. And try to be as friendly as possible to those new people walking into your office; one of them may just be me!
A strong BPI offering from a proven records, document process and content management outsourcer can not only improve an organization operating efficiency, but also have a significant impact on that organization’s bottom-line. If you are interested in learning more about digital imaging management, records management center best practices and related topics, our website (www.ocesolutions.com) can help.
Organizations no longer need to weigh the need to outsource non-critical and non-core business applications. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), and through association Business Process Imaging (BPI), have become an important part of digital workflow management for many companies in this global, highly competitive business environment. Rather, the question regarding BPI is whether to outsource onsite or offsite.
In the past BPI was primarily outsourced via an onsite approach. However, due to advances in telecommunication methodologies, storage environments, and security protocols and practices, offsite BPI solutions are increasing. If you are considering an offsite BPI strategy and are looking to partner with the right provider to make it work, it’s critical that the provider meet important requirements such as:
Redundancy – does the provider have multiple sites in varied locations? It’s of little benefit to your organization if the provider’s multiple centers are located on the same phone or power grid, or located in the same geographic regions. The latter includes, for example, a single metropolitan area, along the same coast, in hurricane zones or in a tornado alley.
Standardized and Flexible Operating Platform – does the provider offer an operating environment at all locations that allows work to be easily and seamlessly transferred? If each center has dissimilar hardware and software, what are the chances of successfully migrating your business documents between facilities?
Adherence to Compliance Regulations – Confidential documents require secure handling. The vendor must be able to provide the physical and technical security necessary to meet all legal regulations.
There are other concerns that must be addressed, but those mentioned above are critical. Addressing these issues is at the core of the BPI solutions we offer, which are supported by two regional imaging centers in the United States and an operation the Philippines.
Bottom-line, offsite BPI services are becoming a norm in this challenging and competitive business environment. Just like a serious review process is required before you allow an onsite provider within your walls, there are also important requirements that must be met before allowing your documents within the walls of an offsite BPI provider. Investigating these requirements will help ensure that you select the right provider to launch a successful BPI initiative.
A strong BPI offering from a proven records, document and content management outsourcing provider can help improve your organization’s operating efficiency as well as reduce costs. If you are interested in learning more about these and related document process management best practices, feel free to visit our website (www.ocesolutions.com).
I’ll highlight more BPI topics in future posts.
It was recently reported that over one million Prius automobiles have been sold worldwide. One million! In total, over two million hybrids have been sold globally. This is not only impressive, but a strong statement regarding efficiency. That’s because the main reason people are purchasing hybrids is the high gas mileage ratings of these vehicles. A correlation can be drawn between gas mileage ratings and document scanner throughput ratings. Okay, I’m sure I have you thinking, “What is he talking about now!”
I am a big fan of the concept behind hybrid vehicles, but their cost is much higher than a non-hybrid vehicle. So what are you really getting for that higher cost? And do you really get that much better performance for the cost?
Document scanners come with a throughput rating. Think of it as a gas mileage rating. Should you purchase the highest throughput-rated scanner on the market? Just like when purchasing a car, you need to first think about the usage of the scanner. If you have high-volume capture requirements, or have to scan a large volume of paper in a short time, you probably do want a high-throughput scanner. But if your need is really for low volume capture that has no strict turnaround time requirements, you can probably go with the more run-of-the-mill rated scanner and save some significant cost.
Another factor to consider when purchasing a scanner is the actual throughput. Vehicles come with two gas mileage ratings: highway and city. It is always the highway (surprise – the higher!) rating that is advertised. The same holds true for document scanners. How many of us drive on the highway, and at highway speeds, the majority of the time? Just as, how many capture centers scan 8 ½” x 11,” perfect bond paper and are able to just keep feeding it into a scanner? Nope, we all live and work in the real world. So when acquiring a document scanner, it is important to understand the type of paper to be captured and the other process steps you must perform (similar to the stops and starts of city driving).
Let’s say you need to scan documents of various sizes, and you need to scan small batches of a multitude of document types and classes that must be identified in the capture software. Under these conditions your scanner with a rated throughput of 120 pages-per-minute may actually scan only 75-78 pages-per-minute. If you are under tight performance or time performance constraints, you may need a higher-rated scanner or more scanners.
Bottom-line, hybrid vehicles are great for the environment, and as a company focused on green initiatives, Océ supports the use of hybrid vehicles. But just like a hybrid may not be the best investment depending on its intended use, acquiring the highest-rated scanner may not be the best long-term solution for your capture center. There are a lot of factors that go into the decision-making process when implementing a capture environment. Make sure you have the resources and experts available to make the right acquisition.
A strong business process imaging (BPI) solution from a proven records, document and content management outsourcer can not only improve your organization’s operating efficiency, it can also significantly improve the bottom line. If you are interested in learning more about managing electronic documents, feel free to visit our website (www.ocesolutions.com). We offer information on document management strategies that span the document lifecycle, from creation through disposal. In my future posts more examples of BPI will be forthcoming.
In my previous post I highlighted the document management challenges faced by the human resources (HR) division for a leading technology services provider. I this article I’ll discuss how we partnered with the HR division to leverage electronic document scanning technology to achieve a variety of important goals.
Our records management team addressed privacy concerns for the HR organization through our secure national imaging center near Salt Lake City, Utah, which offers high-volume offsite digital imaging management capabilities to clients throughout the country. Documents arrived at the facility in carefully packed boxes secured by tamper-evident tape. In a process called match and merge, file folders have numeric codes that only later, after they’re scanned in, link to critical confidential information, e.g., social security numbers, in the company’s HR information system.
This means that project personnel scanning documents didn’t have access to sensitive information about an employee. They would simply key in the employee code and then scan. This layer of security and confidentiality was very important to the company.
Every box of documents contained a manifest indicating what records should have arrived at the imaging center and when. The company’s HR managers could track these shipments using software we provided. Specific processes were in place for re-packaging and returning documents after scanning. Scanning workers were not allowed to remove any paper from the scanning room for any reason.
In eight months, we digitized records for 12,000 current and past HR employees dating back to 2007. At an average of 40 documents per employee, this totals close to 500,000 images. The imaging initiative yielded a host of financial and performance benefits. First, projected savings for the imaging and onboarding projects will be approximately $200,000 over the next five years. Second, the HR records became digital records, rendering the original paper documents “copies” that can be destroyed as dictated by the company’s records retention schedule and policy. The physical location of a personnel record is now irrelevant. A record is simply in the repository, and any authorized HR employee with a Web browser can retrieve any document at any time.
In addition to efficiency, the new system enhances the value of the company’s recent investment in electronic on-boarding software. New employees’ documents are now stored in the organization’s HR records repository rather than as electronic islands in a sea of paper.
Feel free to visit www.ocesolutions.com for additional information on topics including digital imaging management and office document scanning.
The Human Resources (HR) division for a leading technology services provider is keenly aware that supporting its large mobile workforce requires careful documentation. That generally means voluminous amounts of paper. Larger HR departments can have more than 100 different document types. The company brought us in to digitize its HR documents and help meet several important business goals. Following are highlights of the project. (This article addresses the challenges; part 2 will address the solution.)
Given the company’s business model – with numerous employees working at client locations and a distributed management profile – the HR division estimated that it had a great opportunity to leverage electronic document scanning technology to achieve a variety of important goals. These included lowering costs and improving the company’s ability to meet industry compliance and audit regulations. Additionally, the company wanted to enhance the security of its employee data spanning operations in the U.S., Canada and the Philippines as well as to support sustainability initiatives by reducing paper usage. The latter included the goal of creating a more efficient, paperless system to “on-board” new hires and store their personal and work-related information.
An important challenge was to improve timely access to documents. When HR professionals at headquarters needed to retrieve a document pertaining to an employee at one of the company’s many regional offices, a staffer at that regional office was forced to go through files, find the target document, and scan or ship it. Since most employees at these regional offices are dedicated to maintaining on-site client service, often no one was standing by to handle clerical requests. Thus, the simple act of retrieving a document could end up taking a day or more. And in many cases, a single employee’s records were scattered around multiple office locations, especially if the employee had relocated during his employment.
Auditing was another problem. If, for example, the HR organization needed to produce copies of every employee’s I-9 immigration status form, the process could take days or weeks of manual labor by trained specialists. Cases like these can challenge even the best organized companies.
Fire, flood and natural decay were yet another concern around the paper-based records. In addition to causing operations problems, these forces put the company at risk since some documents are legally required to be retained for decades. Many companies have no plan whatsoever for disaster and decay.
In my next post I’ll spotlight our solution. In the meantime, please feel free to visit www.ocesolutions.com for additional information on topics including digital imaging management and office document scanning.
Spring is the air for most of the country. We all learned early in life that the seasons include winter, spring, summer and fall. The seasons can best be summed up as: the time of year when the moisture arrives to sustain life (winter), the blossoming of that life into things meant to enjoyed for the remainder of the year (spring), the time to get down to business and realize and enjoy what the previous two seasons have brought (summer), and then the time to review and characterize what has happened earlier in the year (fall). By now, you are wondering – What does all of this have to do with business process imaging (BPI)?
The initial component of BPI, document capture, is often characterized as sort/prep/scan and index. Sorting (winter) starts the process to sustain those documents that will be scanned. The documents are identified and given a base for the upcoming processes (seasons). Prepping then, in this scenario, is like spring, where everything comes together and is readied for scanning (summer). Scanning is when the “rubber meets the road” and the actual capture process is implemented in full swing. Finally, indexing (fall) is when people review what has been sown and apply structure (or metadata in this case), to account for the digitized documents.
Let me focus for a moment on prepping, which in my experience is rarely as cut and dried as most people think. I recently worked with a client that had a unique document capture process. Due to the source of the documents the company has to digitize, the information required to index and initiate the workflow process is not readily evident. As such, the company has to research each inbound document and make certain determinations, which are noted on the front page. Once the documents are scanned, the handwritten information is keyed in to the company’s system. Unfortunately, because the source of each document is not controlled by the company, and because every source has its own unique regulatory and reporting requirements that must be noted on the documents, there is no way to standardize or auto-extract the data the company requires.
The key point here is that when making the decision to implement BPI, spend as much time reviewing the capture and workflow processes as the technology infrastructure. Unless you truly take the time to re-engineer these processes, you will basically be doing the same things you were doing prior to your BPI initiative, only it is going to cost you a lot more!
A strong BPI offering from a proven records, document and content management outsourcer can not only improve an organization’s operating efficiency, but also significantly improve its bottom-line. There is a lot to consider when designing document management strategies that include a BPI solution. If you are interested in learning more, our website (www.ocesolutions.com) offers insight into managing electronic documents and best practices in maintaining records information management systems. In my future posts more examples of BPI will be forthcoming.
Embrace BPI Technology to Lower Cost; Improve Efficiency (Part 2)
Previously I mentioned how embracing technology can help drive efficiency and lower costs. In this post I’d like to spotlight an example of how I helped a company launch a business process imaging (BPI) system to help achieve these and other goals. The organization received thousands of pieces of mail, containing numerous checks and transactional documents that affected cash flows every day. The mail pieces were opened, microfilmed, imprinted with a unique identifier, and then manually delivered for processing. Once the items were processed, they were boxed and stored in a warehouse for what seemed eons. If clients ever had a question surrounding a transaction, they would call a telephone support area person who would then do the following: look up the transaction in question, note the unique microfilm number on the history record, develop a request form, send the form to the research department, which would then pull the appropriate roll of film, search for and print the document in question, send this printed microfilm image through interoffice mail to the requestor, and the requestor would then attempt to call back the client with a response to their question. Whew! As I stated earlier, this approach was effective, but not efficient.
Our initial intent with the deployment of the BPI system was to improve the collection and distribution of the inbound mail pieces and enhance customer service. The system, once deployed, did all that and more. We improved processing time and customer response – now we were able to answer clients’ inquiries on their initial call – and initiated efficiencies that yielded other significant benefits to the organization. Remember, many of the mail pieces contained checks with large dollar amounts, which could now be deposited within hours. Previously, if a mail piece contained a check the entire envelope would be microfilmed and the hardcopy delivered to the processing area. The processing department would strip out any checks and deliver the checks to cash management for depositing. This system resulted in the dollar amounts not being credited by the end of the day, or even the following day. By going to an automated electronic system we could strip off the hardcopy checks at the scan station; then have a cash management person stationed in the capture center prepare deposits first thing in the morning and make deposits to the bank prior to noon each day. When you are talking about millions of dollars, the additional day of float achieved by our company improved the system ROI four-fold!
Bottom-line – embrace technology. Look at it as a means to not only operate more efficiently, but to also better serve your clients and improve your bottom-line. Managing your information more effectively can positively affect cash flow and create happy clients who are getting questions answered immediately versus waiting several days for a call back.
A strong BPI offering from a proven records, document and content management outsourcer can significantly improve an organization’s operating efficiency as well as its bottom line. There is a lot to consider when designing a document and content management application, including how BPI can help guide that process. I’ll address these topics in future posts.
You can learn more about managing electronic documents on our website (www.obs-innovation.com), which also offers insights on records information management systems and document management strategies and best practices
I have been traveling again. Being a road warrior gives an individual a unique perspective on the world and how businesses operate. Take the airlines for instance. All airlines try to be accommodating, but they can confound the traveler by constantly changing prices, forgetting to schedule the proper crew configurations and cancelling flights, which can cause havoc in people’s lives.
Hotels seem to go out of their way to ease and accommodate travelers. This is a welcome change after just getting off a plane that has been delayed or cancelled because the airline forgot that the pilot timed out and then forgot which hotel the other pilot was staying at. (But don’t get me started.) When I check in to a hotel they welcome me as an elite status member. Often they have goodies or upgrades waiting for me, and generally treat me as though I contribute to their business success, which when you think about it, I do. And both of these industries are emblematic of all organizations – those that truly care about operating as efficiently as possible and providing the utmost service to their customers, and those that really are just getting through the day without fully leveraging technology to maximize service and efficiency.
Document, record, and content management systems are solutions that can allow businesses to significantly improve operating, financial, and customer service efficiency. One of the first business process imaging (BPI) systems I designed and installed did just that. We had initially wanted to move from a manual and cumbersome, though effective, environment, to one that was much more automated, user friendly, and could grow as the business advanced. In my next post I’ll offer some details on how we created a system to help meet these challenges.
In the meantime, you can learn more about managing electronic documents on our website (www.obs-innovation.com), which also offers insights on document management strategies and best practices
This standardized approach continuously evolves based on what we learn at every organization we visit. By applying a standardized approach, whether it is for typical business functions or processes unique to an industry, we can significantly improve operating efficiency. And improving operating efficiency is the tenet of a solid Business Process Imaging (BPI) initiative. Following is an example of a BPI initiative I have brought to clients:
All companies have a human resources process within their organization and there are many solutions we can provide that support this process. One area of improvement is in the receipt, monitoring, retrieval, and disposition of resumes. Especially in our current economic environment, organizations are seeing a significant increase in the number of resumes they receive.
Organizations should retain these documents, many of which spotlight skilled employees that they will need to hire as the economy improves. But what can companies to do with the tremendous volume of paper and electronic documents they compile? We recommend insuring that all resumes are full-text searchable. So in the future, if a company is looking for someone who is CDIA+ certified, the company can get started by simply entering the certification in a search field. Our solution also includes processes to monitor resume files for applicability and help insure the proper retention period for the documents.
A strong BPI offering from a proven records, document and content management outsourcer can not only improve an organization’s operating efficiency, but can also help significantly improve its bottom-line. There is a lot to consider when designing a document and content management application that might include a BPI process. If you are interested in learning more about records information management systems, retention of records and other topics related to managing electronic documents, please feel free to visit our website (www.obs-innovation.com). AIIM (www.aiim.org) and ARMA (www.arma.org) are also good sources of information.
In my future posts more examples of BPI will be forthcoming.
In my previous post I mentioned that there are four key processes associated with deploying a document management system. They are: manage, store, deliver and preserve. In that post I covered manage and store; this time around I’ll highlight deliver and preserve.
Deliver – closely related to storage is the requirement to deliver content to the right recipient and deliver it in the correct environment. File format is based on the needs of the user. Any PC workstation in the world can view TIFF and PDF files. Other file types, though they proliferate throughout the world, may require additional services from a document management system. Defining these requirements up-front is important. The organization needs to clarify how this content will be accessed, where will it be accessed from and how it will used. Answers to these questions will determine not just the file format, but the compression required, delivery methods, and the security technologies that must be deployed as well.
Remember, security not only describes accessibility, but also features such as digital signatures and watermarks. And finally, what is the platform on which the end-user will review the document and content? Previously, users would receive their content via their own intranet exclusively, but today due to more pervasive collaboration and the use of multiple devices, consideration needs to be given to mobile devices and web accessibility (the “cloud”).
Preserve – Preserving documents and content, after initial storage requirements, is the final key component to any document management strategy. Options available for the long-term archival storage of business critical documents are of the utmost interest to any organization. In the electronic world, preservation of data needs to be approached in a hierarchical manner. Migration strategies must be designed that take in to account the useful life, as wells as the required life of the content. This may require that initially content is placed on magnetic media, and then moved to optical media, and finally migrated to tape for long-term retention purposes. As noted in my previous postings, there is a lot to consider when designing a document management system. Up to this point I have discussed the various components you must consider.
If you are interested in learning more about records information management systems, managing electronic documents, retention of records and other topics, our website (www.obs-innovation.com) offers insight in to the management of the full document lifecycle. In my future posts I’ll be discussing specific applications for document and content management systems, with real world scenarios, along with innovative processes and technologies.
Last time I discussed the capture aspect of document management. There are four other processes associated with deploying a document management system. They are: mange, store, deliver and preserve. Following is an overview of these remaining processes.
Manage – this is a key component of any deployment, as evidenced by the term document “management.” This consists of the tools and processes for moving content around an organization and monitoring this movement. Basic document management systems allow users to access content through search functions. These functions are directly related to the naming conventions, or taxonomies, assigned to the documents. Think of the document management system as a file room or cabinet on steroids. In a paper-based application the filing of documents is limited to one to five values. An electronic document management system can have an unlimited number of index values assigned to each document to better refine search and retrieval. It also allows for multiple individuals to access a document at any given time, or the system can be designed to more effectively limit access to the document and content.
Additionally, paper-based systems limit a user to serial distribution techniques. The hardcopy document must physically move from one step, or person, to another in sequence, resulting in added time to process. A more complex document management system can employ automated workflow processes so the document can be worked on concurrently by many people. All systems provide an audit trail function as well. This allows system administrators to track, by individual user and workstation, the document from the time it was scanned to each access point, and what each person did with that document image when they access it.
Store – once a hardcopy document is digitized there are multiple means for storing the electronic image. These can be defined as repositories, such as: document management systems, content management systems, databases, and data warehouses. The technologies utilized can consist of: magnet storage, optical storage, disks, SAN, NAS and even tape. The technology deployed will be dependent on the needs of the users for access, and the retention requirements defined through legal and regulatory controls. A key driver in storage and document lifecycle management is the records management policies documented by an organization. Please refer to my Océ colleague Cheryl Young’s blog “On the Record” for more information about best practices related to records information management systems, retention of records and other important topics.
In my next post I’ll spotlight the other two document management processes, deliver and preserve. Additional information on managing electronic documents is available at our web site (www.obs-innovation.com). Other good sources of background on document management strategies include the Association for Information and Image Management (www.aiim.org) and the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (www.iaop.org).
Océ approaches this from a somewhat minimalist perspective – it should not take more than five index values to uniquely describe an image file. And these index values can be applied in a multitude of ways. The most obvious method is manual data entry. This entails viewing the images and manually typing in certain metadata residing on the electronic image. Another method is using OCR (optical character recognition), or zonal OCR technology. OCR software is employed to extract certain data elements from the images and then apply this metadata to the image file. This eliminates operator error and improves metadata accuracy. Another approach is to employ technology that reads a barcode, a unique label on the document containing data that can be read by a computer, or technology that reads a manually entered field and then retrieves specific metadata from an existing database. This latter method significantly improves accuracy and insures all data fields are completed with appropriate (and matching) data. Utilizing this technology also allows those organizations that insist on using more than five index values to do so at significant savings over manual data entry.
Regarding staffing requirements and space allocation for these capture processes, I suggest picturing an hourglass. At the top wide end of the hourglass are the sorting and prepping functions. These steps are labor intensive and require working space. The center, narrow portion of the hourglass is the scanning function. If proper procedures are implemented during the sort and prep phase, the scanning process is quick and efficient. And finally, the base, or bottom wide end of the hourglass can be looked upon as the indexing function. Of course just how “wide” this base is dependent upon the technology deployed. There is a lot to consider when designing a document capture process, and how this process is designed will impact the other document process management areas.
If you are interested in learning more, our website (www.obs-innovation.com) offers insight into managing electronic documents. Another good source of information on digital imaging management is the Association for Information and Image Management (www.aiim.org)
In my future posts I’ll be discussing the intricacies of how to properly manage, store, preserve, and deliver content with an emphasis on document management.
Capture consists of the following steps: sort, prep, scan, and index. Sorting and preparing documents are important in assuring fast, complete, and accurate digitization of hard copy documents. All documents that require digitization must first be sorted in to logical sequence to insure proper identification, routing, and utilization downstream for the capture process. Océ believes that developing and implementing a logical sort sequence enables organizations to maximize the scanning process, insure intelligent distribution of images, and enhance future retrieval requirements. It is during this process where technologies such as barcodes can be applied to reduce manual intervention and automate workflow processes, record retention, and image retrieval. The function of document prep ensures that there are no obstacles present to interfere with maximum document throughput.
Scanning of hard copy documents can be greatly influenced by several factors. As mentioned above, the prep process, performed properly, will insure that documents can be transported through the scanner cleanly and efficiently. However, it is necessary to have the proper equipment sized and deployed. Scanner manufacturers provide a rated throughput speed for each model they produce. When determining the proper scanner to use however, it is necessary to include the number of separator sheets to be inserted so a clear understanding of true volume is accounted for, and then identify the actual throughput to be realized. Other determining factors include size of paper to be scanned, simplex versus duplex, and color requirements.
In my next post I’ll spotlight the final step of the capture process, indexing. Additional information on office document scanning is available at our web site (www.obs-innovation.com). Other good sources of background on document management strategies include the Association for Information and Image Management (www.aiim.org) and the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (www.outsourcingprofessional.org).