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.