Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mobile ECM: Your Content In Your Pocket

By Glenn Gibson, Hyland Software

The world of computing has changed. Forever.

These days it seems archaic to have to wait until you get home or to the office just to check your email, because now your email is in your pocket. The idea of printing off maps before heading out on a journey seems crazy because GPS on our phone gives us turn-by-turn directions. Lively pop-culture debates over a pint are now a thing of the past, because we can look up the answers on the internet immediately.

Yes, mobile computing devices have changed the world and changed us.  We expect instant access to information from wherever we are. The iPhone and the iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7 and the Blackberry give us this access like never before.

So what does the explosion in mobile computing have to do with ECM?  Everything.

Think about it. What is one of the primary driving factors behind an organization developing an ECM strategy? The need to get critical business information into the hands of the right people at the right time. That’s what ECM is all about.

But what if the right people are in the wrong place at the wrong time? What I mean is, what if the people who are responsible for making important decisions, from approving a critical business expense to agreeing to hire the perfect candidate, can’t physically get access to the information and systems they need in order to execute business decisions, simply because they are traveling or not in the office?  

The reality is that these individuals spend a lot of time on the road and out of the office. This lack of real-time access causes bottlenecks in your processes as the decisions have to wait until they get back online. This causes on-the-fly workarounds with emails and phone calls to get someone, anyone, with authority to make the decision. And once that decision has finally been made, it is very difficult to track all the activity that supports it.

Yup, bottlenecks and workarounds caused when people who play a critical role in business decisions are out of the office have come to be expected as a normal part of business because, until recently, that’s just how it was. There was no other choice.

But, the world of computing has changed. If the ability to access email from anywhere in the world is not only a reality, but expected in today’s world, why is it any different when thinking about your other important business content and processes?

It shouldn’t be. And when you partner with an ECM vendor who understands this, it is not.

Today you can put your ECM content in your pocket. With mobile ECM applications you are able to not only able access your important content, but also participate in business processes, reviewing, approving and denying requests from wherever you are, directly from your mobile device.

Now it is likely, for many good reasons that you may not want to make ALL your business information available via mobile devices. If mobile access to your information is part of your requirements when you are choosing an ECM vendor, you should look for a vendor which allows you to control what type of content and processes to make available via these mobile devices. You should choose an ECM system that can truly deliver on the promise to get critical business information into the hands of the right people at the right time, wherever they happen to be.

For your business this is both simple and profound. No more waiting to get back to the office. No more driving to coffee shops just to get access to your system to approve a request. No more bottlenecks caused by business travel. No more un-documented workarounds. 

It is that simple. It is that revolutionary. Because now your content is right there in your pocket.
Friday, December 9, 2011

Lessons Learned from Apple, 3M and Johnson & Johnson


By Angela Childs

Three companies that changed the conversation.
 
What do these three companies have in common?  They all have invented products that dominate the space.  When you have a cut, do you ask for an adhesive bandage?  If you did, you'd probably hear "you want a what?"  I know I'd ask for a band-aid.  Their brand name is now what we call bandages regardless of who makes them.  Another example - there has been some progress made by all those other companies to get us to call adhesive notes “sticky notes” but they’re post-it notes and they will always be post-it notes.   I could go on with other examples, but we get it and this is already a long post.

Apple has created a similar phenomenon...twice.  In the MP3 player space there are iPods or…everything else.  For tablets, you have the iPad and…everything else.  Whichever side of the Apple argument you fall on, love them or hate them, no other manufacturer has been able to rise above the noise of a competitive marketplace. 

Where am I going with this?  Would you believe it’s to that old build vs. buy conversation?  Yep, I’m going there.   

When you think "Should we just do it ourselves?" what should you consider?

When the topic is developing software, my mind always jumps to the future first.  I start thinking day-forward, after implementation.  You might think I’m wondering what the burden of end user support will be on the IT staff, but that’s not number one on my list.  The first thing I think about is on-going development and not just enhancements and the inevitable changes required to stay in step with changes in business over time, but the pure technical development required.  If there were never any enhancements and you never had to make changes to the core requirements, you’d still need to update what you built to stay compatible with changing operating systems, databases, browsers, etc. 

After weighing the risk of day forward compatibility development, I leap back to the beginning.  To develop something properly you need to analyze the business requirements, develop a scope of work, estimate the time requirements, assign costs, then get agreement internally on cost and scope.  This front end work requires a set of skills that is different from that of a developer – more often than not.  Now we’re developing a team, ideally an experienced team, all working on this project. 

Next I’m on to the development itself.  You have development tasks, project management, change control, risk mitigation, testing, documentation, implementation, and training.  If this is development on something that’s not directly related to your core business – do you know enough to know what you should be worried about in terms of risk?  I haven’t even gotten to IT resources for day to day end user support.

When we really start to break down the concept of build vs. buy, we go from the question “Could we develop this ourselves?” to “Do we want to develop this ourselves?” 

It’s a similar discussion when it comes to whether or not a backlog scanning project should be done internally or outsourced.  Like with a software development project, it boils down to resources, time, cost and risk.  You need to have people that can do it, the hardware and software required, enough time available, a person or persons that can manage the people and the process, and a quality control mechanism.  What you get back from the effort is related to what you put in to the effort so you need to make sure you have a good process and good controls.

So what does this have to do with the beginning of this post?  Commit to what you do and do it really well.  We need focus and we need to be thoughtful.  We need to look at everything that we could do and then pick what we should do.  We need to set ourselves up to succeed, not sprinkle the path with pitfalls.  We won’t all cause a paradigm shift, or develop a product that becomes the next genericized trademark, but we can have products and services that are competitive and highly regarded; and we can enjoy that success.  

So what’s the answer - should you build or buy?  Seriously?  Are you joking?  Did I not just blather on for almost 700 words explaining that this is not an easy yes/no.  

Having your own build vs. buy dilemma?  Contact us and we'll help you weigh the pros and cons.
Thursday, December 1, 2011

Imaging Office Systems Extends Commitment to Records Management Services

Columbia City, IN – Dec 1, 2011 – Imaging Office Systems, Inc. (IOS) a leading provider of content management systems and records storage announced today that it has joined the PRISM (Professional Records and Information Services Management) association.

Participation in PRISM will ensure that IOS customer records are provided with the highest level of security, confidentiality, and protection following industry recognized practices and procedures.

PRISM International was founded in 1980 as ACRC (The Association for Commercial Records Centers) and 1981 as NASDV (National Association for Secured Data Vaults). The two organizations shared many common members and merged in 1996 to form PRISM (Professional Records and Information Services Management) International. PRISM International is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade association based in North Carolina. The association maintains a secretariat in Brussels, Belgium. PRISM International members operate in more than 60 countries around the world.

PRISM International’s primary goal is to serve members of the industry in the following ways: PRISM International provides industry advocacy services in order to improve the operating environment of the industry and represents the interests of the industry before regulatory bodies and governmental entities; PRISM International creates educational programming, guidelines, studies and other industry specific information to benefit members; PRISM International provides virtual and face to face opportunities for networking among members of the association in order to foster mentoring, strengthen business relationships and improve friendships within the industry.

In addition to these critical areas, PRISM International also offers industry information to potential customers seeking information management services from PRISM International members.  For more information, visit www.prismintl.org.

Contact us to talk about your specific needs and we’ll get started tailoring a records management solution just for you.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10 Reasons Microsoft's SharePoint is like Gravity

By John Trimble

  1. According to Microsoft there are 125,000,000 SharePoint licenses sold so it is as pervasive as gravity. It is everywhere and like gravity it is not going anywhere soon.
  2. In the right application (such as keeping things secured on terra firma) gravity is incredibly useful, as is SharePoint.
  3. There are times however; high jumping, running, accidentally falling from a window when gravity is not exactly your best friend, ditto SharePoint.
  4. If gravity is asked to do too much, more than it should like, say, safely landing an airplane all by itself it will gladly agree and go all in despite the somewhat dicey – crash site outcome. Same for SharePoint. Neither will offer up “no, this is not a good idea”. 
  5. Gravity is a force and the strength of the force due to gravity depends on the mass of the object it acts upon.  SharePoint’s “force” or effectiveness is also based on the mass of information it is trying to control. The more information, the less buoyancy, speed and exactitude. 
  6. Bigger and heavier with both gravity and SharePoint equals slower. With SharePoint bigger in this sense is not the amount of users but the amount of information and images it has been forced to digest.  Foie Gras comes to mind, don’t ask me why…
  7. String theory calculations and equations posit that gravity should be way stronger than it actually is, that gravity is somehow “leaking”.  Too many images stored in SharePoint when used inappropriately as a repository can also be viewed as “information leakage” because some are simply going to get away.
  8. Physicists understand that Gravity is not the only force acting on the molecules of our atmosphere. Gravity is not the strongest force, either. Microsoft also now understands that SharePoint is not the ideal imaging ECM “force” or solution and have now completely backed away from that. This is why they have helped Certified Gold partners such as Hyland create such tight integration between SharePoint and OnBase.
  9. If Gravity did not exist SharePoint wouldn’t either.
  10. Gravity and SharePoint can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on your need at any point in time for seeing eye to eye and collaborating on a project versus controlling a large (informational) mass while trying to avoid falling to the ground in a tussle with physics doing the gravity two step with too many documents on your back.
Need help optimizing SharePoint for your documents?  You have a lot of options.  Let us help you weigh the pros and cons.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Black Holes, Acid Wash Jeans, and AP more than AR - 3 Things I Don't Really Understand

By Angela Childs

I work with a lot of companies implementing content management and workflow.  More often than not, we’re working with Accounts Payable.  We might be helping them implement paperless invoice approvals, shrink the timeline to take more discounts, or sometimes even tracking vendor behavior to turn vendor invoicing errors into rebates.

None of this surprises me.  It doesn’t make sense to have AP clerks key invoices when you don’t have to, or to shuffle paper invoices all over the organization.  And, if at the same time you can turn a vendor’s bad habit of sending duplicate invoices or invoicing the wrong quantities/prices into a bigger discount or longer payment terms, even better – what are we waiting for, right?

Of course those things should all be on our to-do list, no mystery there.  What I always find odd though, is that we don’t spend as much time talking about AR.  I find it odd because it’s a lot more fun to talk about AR.  It's how much quicker can I get paid vs. how much more efficiently can I pay.  Cash in vs. cash out.  The first half of that is definitely more appealing.

So why AP?  Okay, truth time, I know the answer to this question.  The AP process touches a lot of people.  It’s not just accounting but every approver and purchasing, add the vendors calling with questions regarding when their invoices will be paid, and you have a crowd.  With all the players, fixing the AP process becomes a shear necessity – unless you have unlimited time and money, in which case we should still talk. 

Clearly, AP automation/workflow is something we want to do but we are starting to see a real uptick in the areas of AR and sales order processing.  This is a natural progression and it’s nice to see. 

We’re working with two companies now that are automating sales order processing.  The premise is how they, with the least amount of manual intervention, can get a sales order from receipt to the production floor.  Adding to that base premise, we’re also working to error proof the process by automating data validation, checking available stock, confirming schedules, and verifying pricing.  The same things we do for AP – capture as soon as the document comes in, automatically extract the data, and route – all apply to orders.

That’s the order to invoice side of the equation.  What about invoice to pay?  If I talk to any CFO about their DSO they all want it reduced and why wouldn’t they?  The quicker you have your money, well, the quicker you have your money.  

When we start to look at the reasons customers give for a delayed payment it’s often that they don’t have proof of delivery, they need another copy of the invoice, or they need to confirm agreed to terms (quantity, pricing, etc.).  If you capture documents throughout the process, then wrap them all up together with the invoice you generate to the customer that information will be at the fingertips of your Collections group.  Contact the customer at 25 days, perhaps, and ask about payment.  If Collections hears any of those objections, the detail that gets the money in your hands is a mouse click away from being emailed to that customer.  They can even ask – “I just emailed you proof of delivery.  Did you get it?  Is it what you needed?” 

So content management and workflow clearly can make a huge impact in both AP and AR.  Does it make sense to start with AP?  For companies with a high invoice volume, a lot of approvers, or a distributed workforce, it probably does.  What I want is to not stop there.  Let’s take everything we learn about automating and using workflow tools while working with AP to make a real impact in AR.

Want to take a look at your AP or AR processes?  At Imaging Office Systems we specialize in process mapping and re-engineering, automation, workflow, and content management.  Take a look at our results and contact us.  We can help.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Confessions of a Salesaholic

By Beth Schrader

“Bad Selling” is like a blind date going awry; we know it when we see it.  But good selling or effective selling – the kind where people actually fulfill on their promises and create real improvement - that is harder to define.  Why?  I believe it is because good selling is not a separate “thing” in and of itself.  Good selling is not removed from what logically needs to be happening at every point in the process for the client.  Ideally then, good selling does not stand out.  It is not a technique; it is not a “close,” it is not “manipulation.”  Honestly, in today’s world I am not sure we can successfully manipulate a cross walk sign.

In placing complex document imaging systems, in creating process improvement, in automating manual tasks and paper, IOS knows this is challenging enough for both sides without inserting a layer of obsolete, time consuming “sales role playing.”  Selecting the best provider for the application is hard enough for the client, selecting the best solution and proving it is the best solution is hard enough for the provider -  it’s all hard enough already without an inauthentic sales layer.  That is why we don’t do it.

It’s not that IOS is being altruistic, we are just being pragmatic.  If there is an elephant in the room, we think the client is more than astute enough to know that, so let’s just clear that air before it becomes unnecessarily polluted…

This industry has become so upside down that IOS is regularly thanked by clients for being direct and clear, essentially being thanked for telling the truth whatever that truth happens to be.  That a thing like candor has become such a big differentiator for us is just crazy.  Will “Truth Telling as a Sales Technique” become the next big thing?

As a Company, we know what we do if our vendors do not fulfill on their promises, or do not call back when they say, or if they obscure deficiencies in a less than forthright way…we move on.  Quickly. Yet, we are continually surprised when companies seem willing to put up with similar bad behavior from their prospective providers allowing them to still participate, to still quote, and to even secure the business.  As if customer sensitivity or provider capabilities will improve after the sale.  Not bloody likely. 

Whether consciously or subconsciously, we are all guilty of critiquing others who do what we do.  I’ve often wondered what it was like for a Doctor who finds an abnormality, a hairstylist who finds some gray, or a lawyer who finds him/herself subpoenaed.  Do they become hyper-critical or do they immediately melt with gratitude upon receiving counsel with another member of their profession who shows them that they are equally competent and authentic?  Yes and yes.

I’ve been a salesperson for the last 17 years of my life, so I find it very intriguing to watch others sell, particularly when I am the customer.  Judgmental?  I prefer to call it observant…

Let’s start with the obvious.  Do what you say you’re going to do.  If you tell me you will get back to me with answers to questions that I have (undoubtedly) asked, then get back to me.  It’s already on my calendar.  And if you do not get back to me by the time my reminder goes off, I’m going elsewhere.  If I can’t count on you to do what you say you are going to do before I buy something – why in the world would I assume you will do what you promise to do after I buy it?  So:  If you say you are going to do something there is only one rule: DO IT.  And if you cannot do it, then please tell me why ahead of time. In all likelihood we can get past it, but ignorance is not bliss and no - I will not have forgotten your committing to it in the first place. 

Secondly, I detest insincerity when making a purchase.  Please don’t be smarmy with me.  Please don’t be disingenuous with me.   I think the kid slang these days is, “keep it real.”  I am too old to say that to a salesperson as I shop, but I am certainly thinking it and can smell it a mile away if it’s not.  Please do not tell me you know something if you don’t, but conversely, know what you should know. 

Next, pay attention.  If I have already stated my reasoning for something, before you try and convince me otherwise, think about why I might have said it.  There are some things that no matter how many times you say, “but,” I will not waiver on. 

And lastly, please, please, p-l-e-a-s-e…if you have failed at any or all of the above, do not ask me “And how will you be paying for this today?” or, “When do you think you’ll be ready to buy?”  I won’t be. 

Perhaps I am guilty of putting salespeople through the proverbial wringer, but only because I live in that wringer every day.  I have high expectations, and if a salesperson has done a good job and responds to me in a timely manner, then I am not offended when they ask if I am ready to make the purchase.  I am actually relieved that I have found exactly what I was looking for from a knowledgeable person I trust, it is exactly what I need, and I know I’ll be happy with the purchase and decision long-term.
Sunday, October 2, 2011

What you have to do vs. what you want to do

By Angela Childs

Is value all in the eye of the beholder? The answer is no. At least not when it comes to what adds value in a business.

I was asked to be the speaker at a monthly meeting of the Fort Wayne chapter of Project Management Professionals. As I thought about the possible topics, I decided to talk about what I spend more and more time helping our clients with which is streamlining their business processes.

That phrase “streamlining business processes” is so overused that we don’t pay attention to it anymore. It has become sales speak but the concept is very real and critical in today’s business climate. For the presentation, I challenged the project managers to look at business processes the way they would look at manufacturing when implementing Lean.

With Lean, one of the areas of study is value-added vs. non value-added activities. Non value-added activities are classified as waste. The concept is this – value-added activities are those your customer wants, needs, and is willing to pay for. This is how your revenue is generated. Non value-added activities are those that don’t generate revenue. Things that fall into this category are handling, walking, filing, inspecting, waiting, packaging, searching, sorting, stacking, reading, etc.

This is a tricky concept. When I say to a client, “Walking an order over to production is not a value added activity”, I hear back “It is because that’s how the order starts. We can’t start work without a copy of the order.” Okay, true, but this is not the only option. I suggest that the “walking” is waste and can be eliminated. I also suggest that the walking is probably not the only waste going on here. I bet there are also copies being made, and that those copies being filed in multiple places by multiple people, that some of them are stapling on backup documents. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Non-value added activities are a huge opportunity for every business. Let’s look at it this way – there are three ways to become more profitable – find a way to charge higher prices despite the competition (Blue Ocean Strategy), create something no one else has (eliminate competition, for a while at least), or reduce costs. The first two are the most dramatic but they are also the hardest to do. The third one, reducing costs, we can and should do, every day.

With our clients, I encourage them to look at every area of their business that is not revenue generating. With HR, AP, Shipping/Receiving, Purchasing, etc., there are a lot of opportunities and most of the time, they find that they can not only reduce costs but they can free up valuable employees for other tasks.

I was listening to CNN shortly after I gave the presentation and they were talking about what we, human workers, excel at that can’t be automated. They were talking about critical thinking skills and how finding people that are good at wearing a lot of hats, good at inventing, then reinventing, then reinventing again are hard to find. These key people who can maximize profits and drive growth are hard to find because once a company finds one, they don’t want to let them go. We don’t want to let them go and we certainly don’t want them walking an order over to production.

Want to find out what you could reinvent?  Our Professional Services Group can help.
Thursday, September 15, 2011

“The future is actually here it just doesn’t arrive all at once”

By John Trimble
 
Novelist William Gibson is credited with the line “The future is actually here it just doesn’t arrive all at once” It’s both catchy and inarguable. I doubt that he was thinking of the state of process automation and document management when he said it but he might as well have been.

That thought was further driven home this week for me as I just got back from a National Hyland OnBase Users Conference in Las Vegas. (Hide your envy, it rained for two entire days, I don’t gamble, so Las Vegas to me is like Des Moines with better restaurants) But what struck me were the companies who had won the Hyland Software “Creative Awards’ for improving their processes with document imaging and workflow. Company after company spoke in almost revival meeting fervor and pride about how they have sped up, modernized and workflowed their information, allowing in some cases the public to see information on the web that previously required a trip to the County office or greatly increased customer satisfaction or even improved law enforcement. The Las Vegas Police Dept. now handles Homeland security cases at five times their prior rate because they have automated with fewer people.

On and on…the Kool Aid definitely knocked back and rightfully so. Unpaid, gleeful testimony.

So for these and many more companies and institutions the future has arrived. Why then is there still such a lag and a divide between the haves and have nots in document imaging? How can some still afford to or even want to accept being old-world-manual and slow when they know what is available, what their peers are doing, what their competitors are doing?

Technology is funny; if you could peer into every home on your block you would see everything from 12 inch black and white television sets to 65 inch high definition plasma and we would agree that is just personal taste. But if you walked into a company and applied for a job and realized as they started copying your application by hand that they did not own a copier you would quickly run for the parking lot. Business requirements transcend and trump personal choice. Or so you would think.
Apparently even in business change, technology and culture travel time can be on a seven second delay or it sometimes arrives by a team of oxen. Gee, Haw and all that. But it does come. Eventually.

Just not all at once.
Thursday, September 1, 2011

Imaging Office Systems Expands Again, Adding Records Management Services

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind., Sept. 1, 2011 Imaging Office Systems, Inc. (IOS) is a leading provider of content management systems, scanning and data capture, systems integration, and custom software development announced today that it purchased the assets of Document Management Solutions (DMS), a privately held local document storage company.  DMS provides document and file management services including off-site records storage, expedited retrievals, and CRM consulting services.

This acquisition is consistent with IOS' strategy to complement their core business. Adding DMS's proven capabilities and 16 years' experience in hard copy storage elevates IOS to be considered uniquely qualified in allowing their clients to be truly paperless.

This complete solution loop is now possible as IOS combines its volume scanning and high end imaging software offerings and integrations for handling day forward documents with this new storage option for longer term retention requirements.

Using the unique DMS model, IOS will continue to provide clients with their own storage bays so their records stay together, separate and apart from any other clients. Russ Bassett cabinets, designed for archiving special formats, allow IOS to accommodate permanent storage for microfilm, microfiche, aperture cards, engineering drawings and roll or flat drawings. 

Customers will continue to make file requests and even view them without ever leaving their desks via a secure internet interface.  Requests for archived records that used to take days are completed in hours or less, if required. IOS is excited about these new services as they stay true to their focus on content management.

Imaging Office Systems, Inc. (IOS)
Deriving 100% of its revenue from content management, IOS has installed over 600 imaging systems in the Midwest.  In addition to document management solutions from its partners Hyland, EMC, PSIGen, Canon, FileBound, and Fujitsu, IOS has an in-house Professional Services Group that performs system integrations and conversion, workflow and custom programming. With its multiple facilities IOS is also one of the largest document conversion service bureaus in the United States converting more than 5 million pages a month. 

Document Management Solutions, Inc. (DMS)
DMS was originally opened by Tom Martin in Anderson Indiana in 1989 as the Midwest Microfilm Conversion Center for Bell & Howell.  In 1995, Tom purchased the facility and created Document Management Solutions.  Since then, Tom expanded the business to include paper and electronic document storage and retrieval, and scanning services.  DMS used their vast industry experience to provide their clients with the best possible combination of storage, protection, and fast availability of documents.  Like IOS, DMS had a single core competency and that was content management.
Thursday, August 18, 2011

Celent report: Credit unions increase core system upgrades

// August 18th, 2011 // Michelle Shapiro // Hyland Software // Financial Services

Ten percent of credit unions looked to upgrade their core banking system last year, according to a recent report by Celent. Historically, the average hovers between four or five percent.

I don’t have to tell you that changing a core isn’t exactly a small undertaking. Converting from an existing core banking platform, or even just upgrading, is a major project that impacts the entire enterprise. So why upgrade outdated legacy systems or consolidate platforms now? The market’s merger and acquisition activity has been really lively, resulting in a reevaluation of the core systems the credit unions have in place.

This report focuses just on the core, but what does this technology shifting mean for credit unions’ other systems.

The questions we’re getting from our customers are all along the same lines “if I change my core, can I still integrate ECM with the new system?” At this point in the ECM game, integrations seem like a basic thing to offer. But what’s causing many credit unions a lot of angst right now is just that – if they change their core, they have to rethink ECM, too.

But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. If credit unions don’t have a true ECM system, they’re probably up against a wall with a core provider’s document imaging component. If they decide to switch cores, or have to consolidate and share content from multiple acquired credit unions, it’s impossible to do so without getting an independent ECM solution.


So while all the acquisition in the credit union market is causing them to take another look at their core, long term it makes sense to also consider how to evolve their content management strategy. They’re growing and changing, and making sure they’re investing in an ECM solution that can grow and change with them is imperative. Credit unions can’t afford to have their content, especially member information, held in silos.