Monday, December 16, 2013

Why Document Imaging Can Seem Like a Renegade GPS

By John Trimble

Driving through the expanse of central Kansas I was relying heavily on my GPS. Just now, right there, my inner voice wanted to me type “my trusty GPS” which I resisted for two reasons: first it is hackneyed, second and more importantly it is not true. I don’t really trust my GPS.

In fact, on my way to our offices in Wichita last month when it suggested taking a specific exit – in the middle of nowhere –  I said out loud for the amusement of the rental car’s dashboard, “Don’t think so” and kept going down the highway waiting for option two that was sure to come.

I simply did not trust it and for some reason I felt refusing option one would soon bring me a more reasoned, geographically sensible option two as if the GPS would then see that I was not a pushover, ready to buy into its every whim. That it would buckle down and start making more serious, attractive offers to me.

It then dawned on me that this is what clients must feel like when they are trying to sort out options for technology laden document imaging purchases. It could easily seem like being in the middle of the Kansas plains trying to get somewhere recognizable, someplace understandable. Companies sorting one proposal from another, looking for differentiators as they try to decide where to place their trust or worse; simply saying no completely at first as a defense mechanism even though it would be extremely helpful. Offering up the “automatic no” despite the fact that GPS units – like IOS – have access to a great deal of information and come with significant “digital” experience.

The funny thing is that once I arrived at our Wichita office and related how my stupid GPS wanted me to turn off the highway 50 miles or so out of town they told me that it would have been a good way to go, it would have been more direct plus I could have avoided a lot of city traffic.

So I said no to a good idea for apparently no reason, armed with only a suspicion I could get a “better solution” if I waited, if I held out and proved that I was not a pushover….to the GPS and the dashboard I guess.


In that case it just cost me about 30 minutes. With document imaging delaying efficiencies and waiting for the “recalculating” can be far more expensive.
Monday, December 9, 2013

I.O.aweS.ome

By Brian Kopack

Wildly popular today, forgotten tomorrow - the harsh reality of life in technology.

What’s the secret to staying relevant?

Creativity that creates value.






















In the content management universe, you can’t succeed with a “one-size fits all” solution.  No two industries are the same.  No two customers are the same.  Everything is customizable.

That’s where our creativity comes in handy.

Tell us your story – your hopes and dreams and fears.  We’ll give you a great answer.

Creativity as a concept is difficult to put into words.  You just know it when you see / hear it.  And, you really know it if it’s in haiku:

Your information
Tomorrow’s ideas first
I.O.S. is now

Didn’t see that one coming, did you?
Monday, December 2, 2013

We're like the MapQuest of Content Management

By Angela Childs

When we’re working with someone on a new project, we can pretty much do whatever they want.  We have different capture and content management options so we can pick the best thing for each situation and not commit the sin of “Oh, would you look at that, that one thing we have is perfect for you.”  

We can also do pretty much whatever the project calls for because of all the different services we provide.   You want to scan, we’ll set you up.  You don’t want to scan, we’ll scan for you.  Want to set up a PO Box and have the mail come to us?  That works too.  Have us monitor an email account?  Okay.  Don’t want to scan unless you need something?  Got it. We’ll store the boxes and only scan what’s really being used.

So how do you decide what you should do?  Honestly, you shouldn’t have to.  Lean on an expert.    We’ve done a lot of different projects for a lot of different organizations in a lot of different verticals for a lot of different departments so we have a lot of experience and really diverse projects to draw from.  Each new project starts with the culmination of everything we’ve learned; each new customer benefiting from every one that’s come before.    That’s what an expert gets you.  You’re not starting from point A.  You’re starting way down the road with a pile of lessons learned and tested best practices.

We’ll look at where you’re starting from and where you want to be at the end; not how you want to get there.  We’ll uncover all the variables and how this project fits with your other initiatives, timeframes, budget, user diversity, etc. then we’ll tell you how to get there and why we’ve picked that route.  Just like MapQuest, more often than not, we’ll find a couple different routes for you highlighting the one we think is the best fit and why.

Options are good.  Options and recommendations are better.  

We’ve got you covered on both counts.
Monday, November 18, 2013

What IOS and Robin Thicke Have in Common

By Angela Childs

I had an idea for a blog post about what IOS and Robin Thicke have in common.  The idea being that there is something about him and something about us that is surprising.  And then Blurred Lines was released and he was EVERYWHERE.   Seriously?   Idea now dead to me.

Time has passed though so I’m going to give resurrecting it a whirl.

Robin Thicke’s music falls into the Hip-Hop and R&B genres.   In interviews he has shared that he’s influenced by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Al Green and by the artists he grew up listening to like Run DMC, N.W.A., Biggie, and Jay-Z.  You hear this in his music.  That’s not at all surprising and for many I’m sure not even mildly interesting.  Here’s what is surprising, to me at least.   Robin Thicke, that cool, soulful guy is Alan Thicke’s son.

"Who’s Alan Thicke?”, you say.  Alan Thicke played the Ward Cleaver-esque dad on Growing Pains but that’s not all he’s known for.   Alan Thicke also made musical contributions, like his son, but his included composing the theme songs for Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, and The Wheel of Fortune.    This is not to imply that those ditties were not cool and soulful.   Never.

So what else is surprising?   Despite the regional footprint suggested by our physical buildings, IOS actually has a much, much bigger footprint.  

We started as a Midwestern company serving clients in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky but our expertise in cradle to grave content management, business process automation, and innovative solutions to unique problems finds us now with clients in 44 states and in Canada, Puerto Rico, Ireland, England, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Australia. 


Get to know us and you won’t find our large footprint all that surprising. 
Monday, November 11, 2013

5/7 Is Not a Time Signature

By John Trimble

5/7 is not a time signature and of course you knew that. There are wacky time signatures like 13/8 and 7/8 or 9/4 but there is no “7th note.” But you knew that too.  What you might not know is what 5 / 7 really refers to: it’s what clients want from the salespeople who call on them.

In a very extensive CEB Consulting Survey of 5,000 plus companies over 50 different attributes were tested as to what companies needed from their providers to remain loyal to them. Seven responses were found way above the others in impact. But the top five all speak directly to the need of the client not necessarily to buy something but to learn something.

Listed in order of impact they are as follows:

  • The salesperson offers unique and valuable perspectives on the market.
  • The salesperson helps me navigate alternatives.
  • The salesperson provides on-going advice or consultation.
  • The salesperson helps me avoid potential land mines.
  • The salesperson educates me on new issues and outcomes.
  • The supplier is easy to buy from.
  • The supplier has widespread support across my organization.

If you are like these responders you are saying to your salesperson: “Here is what I want, don’t sell me, help me. Help me by telling me what is working for other similar companies, similar problems, give me options that I might not even know exist, advise me, protect me against train wrecks that we might unintentionally cause by overlooking something, give me some genius ideas on what else we can do that we have not even thought of yet. But mostly, don’t sell me, help me.”

IOS gets that. Happily, this is also how we define our value to the client. Our entire sales process was built around this concept. This is also why if we do not have a fit, if we cannot bring insight and improvement, we are the first to point it out. Otherwise what’s the point?

So I guess we can play in 5/7 time after all.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Be Cool. Create Value.

By Brian Kopack

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”  John Lennon

This season of the year is prime time for least anticipated of the business cycle's annual rituals: budgeting.  It’s the time of the year where everyone pulls out all of their data and pretends they know how to use it to predict the future.

The reality is, for most Finance departments, this time of year is purgatory.  It is either submitting next year’s budget, revising the original submission or resetting the quarterly reforecast.  Even with all of the information businesses have available, budgeting never seems to get easier or less annoying because (a) clairvoyance isn’t usually a prerequisite in Finance and (b) real life just happens.

You spend a ton of time creating a plan and guess what?  An employee leaves, you make an acquisition or you develop a new product.  Now you have more responsibility - more to get done, and guess what else?  You have less time to get everything done.  Good thing you have a budget that probably needs revising.

Forget about preparing a budget – invest in adding value instead.  How?  Eliminate.  Automate. Create.

Eliminate

Stop filling file rooms with paper files.  Stop wasting time requesting, returning and refiling paper documents.   Stop worrying about managing a document retention schedule.  There is an intelligent records management system available.  Store your boxes securely.  Receive requested files digitally and quickly.  Destroy old files timely.  IOS can do that.

Automate

Stop entering data from one page to another form or one system to another.  Stop walking reports around the department for approvals.  Stop keeping manual to-do lists.  Technology exists that can handle that for you.  Capture data from a form automatically.  Create a workflow to route forms around the company electronically.  Track required tasks in any process programmatically.  IOS can do that.

Create

Stop wishing there was a better way.  Stop thinking you’ll get to it next month.  Stop saying, “If only we can figure out a way to……….”  What’s the objective - save money, save time, communicate better with other departments, save effort during audits?  Yes, yes, yes, yes.  IOS can do that.

Skeptical?  Check out our storybook.

IOS knows value creation.  We’ve been thought leaders in business improvement technology and services since before it was cool.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just Hanging Around

By Brian Kopack

So I’m hanging there thinking, “Now what?”

I have hundreds of options but nowhere to go.  I know what I want to do (and what I don’t want to do – fall), and I think I know what I am capable of, but for now I am just hanging.  Trying to decide what to do next - before the helicopters come to rescue me.

At that minute, I’m living a metaphor.  The one about facing challenges, overcoming obstacles, charting a brave new course through bold action, triumphantly reaching the summit.

Sounds great, but I was really just hanging – no real grand plan except trying to figure out what to do in the next minute and the minute after that.

At IOS, we see customers living a different version of the same metaphor.  The challenge isn’t a mountain; it just feels like it.  The real challenge is breaking away from the status quo – the archenemy of progress.

Companies tell us they know they should be scanning their records but they are afraid of being without the paper.

Companies tell us they have so many boxes they can’t move around their offices.  They thought about sending the boxes off-site, but how will they get access to what they need?

Companies tell us they know that the processes that worked for them since the last century are woefully past their prime, but they don’t have the horsepower to automate.  They know their business, what they don’t know is workflow development and business process automation.

So instead of changing, they’re just hanging – no real plan.  Someone has to come along to make things better eventually, right?

Someone will combine cutting-edge technology with a disciplined, quality-focused process to make scanning simple and secure.  Someone will provide customers who have enjoyed the convenience of having their boxes stored and managed off-site with the luxury of having access to those documents electronically, saving both time and money.  Someone will come along who can analyze business processes creatively and improve efficiency by adding functionality to existing systems.

Actually, that someone is already here.

IOS

Content Management.  Intelligent Records Storage.  Innovative Professional Services.

For 40 years - Thought leaders in business improvement technology and services.  Let's get together.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How to prevent desiccant drying...or something like that

By John Trimble

I took a meeting yesterday with a national company interested in partnering with IOS. This company specializes in the disaster recovery of water damaged documents; damage caused by everything from a Superstorm Sandy to a burst water pipe in the office basement.

Their process is daunting: the boxes are shipped into their facilities – usually wrapped in individual garbage bags and placed into huge freezers. “Freezers that would kill you in less than two minutes if you were locked into one” was the exact phrase. Using both “blast freezing” as well as “freeze drying” the moisture is somehow turned into a gas and then the documents move into the desiccant drying stage which eliminates the moisture that fungi require for mold to grow, mold obviously being a big issue. This is if there is no soot damage from a fire and if the source water is clean, meaning all of this is best case scenario. More often than not it is not best case scenario.  At that point many other steps are required, none of them inexpensive or recreational.

So my question to him was where do we come in? IOS is one of the largest scanning companies in the United States but where does he see the fit? The answer was simple:

“Trust me after a company goes through something like that they never want to go through it again. And I am not just talking about the expense which is considerable. They see their information floating under three feet of water, all their files? It’s awful. I had an attorney actually crying on the phone because all of his clients’ records were submerged in sewer water.  It’s tough.”

“So generally the first thing they ask us if we know any really good scanning companies – not only to scan what we just recovered but going forward. Believe me they have seen the light for backing up their paper.”

I did believe him and told him he was preaching to the choir; the whole world was going digital so the reluctance to move beyond technology created around the first century AD was increasingly hard to understand. At IOS this is what we talk about every day, modern document management – losing the paper but keeping the document.

I understand why this message is embraced so thoroughly by companies who have seen the light and have simply lost the paper…under three feet of sewage water. But isn’t it time all companies, even those companies who have not had the pure fun of having their documents go through “blast freezing” to do the same?

Avoid becoming a cautionary tale...give us a call.
Friday, September 13, 2013

Onwards & Upwards


By Brian Kopack

A hot air balloon landed behind my house last week.  No kidding.  I have pictures.  And no, I am pretty sure it isn’t the latest in surveillance operations.  At least, I hope not.

I pull into my driveway after work and my backyard is full of people, neighborhood pets and a hot air balloon.  It seems a participant in a local festival had some trouble with his balloon and had to make an unscheduled landing… and my backyard was as good as place as any.

What happened to make the pilot to land in my backyard?

Sometimes I don’t know why I think what I think.  In the middle of the chaos, I go right to the cause, the breakdown in process.  Not, I am glad everything worked out and no one was hurt.  Or, how cool is it to have a hot air balloon in my yard.

I come by it naturally.

I get it - nobody is perfect.  Accidents happen.  Add other relevant cliché’s here.

In a prior life I worked in public accounting - a great experience.  I worked with a lot of people in a lot of different companies in a lot of different industries with a lot of different issues.  It is perfect training.  I learned business, good and bad, and I learned a little about working with people and a lot about processes.

I learned quickly that people make mistakes – not falling-out-of-the-sky-in-a-balloon mistakes, but mistakes.  In business, since perfection is an unreasonable expectation, the best you can do is limit the opportunities employees have to make mistakes on the front end and create a sufficient safety net to mitigate risk on the back end.

In the old days, the safety net was manual checks and balances.  Checklists and sign-offs and interoffice mail.  The more complex the process, the more checklists, sign-offs and interoffice mail employees had to manage.  Careers were forged managing the flow of paperwork.  I have been in organizations were the employee becomes the process.

Me: “Explain your procedure for managing bad debt collections.”

Business: “It starts with Sam Smith report.”

Then, thankfully, we all entered 21st century.

Smart people employed the power of technology to automate routine tasks.

Smarter people used technology to automate processes because they knew the technology was capable of something truly amazing besides being predictable and easily auditable – not forgetting assigned tasks (limiting exposure to risk).  Automating business processes allowed companies to get business done faster and more accurately.  And most importantly, automation allowed businesses to better utilize the talents of their employees – to put employees in the position to focus on value-added work instead of routine tasks.

Simply, smart businesses use technology to work smarter and be more creative to work even more smartly and be even more productive.

Today, process is everything.  Automating those processes is more a necessity than a luxury.  Since the financial world melted down a few years back, companies had to scale back their workforces but still keep producing.    As the outlook improves, those same resources are stretched even further to keep up with increased demand.  In lieu of hiring, businesses are turning to automating the workflow of their most labor-intensive processes.  They are rethinking the old world order and breaking long-established bad habits in the name of progress.  They understand removing variables with technology limits risk.  What starts as cost-saving initiative turns into a value-creation vehicle.

I know this is true because we are part of the revolution.  Every day the IOS Professional Services Group is shaping the future of business by helping our customers create value through process workflow automation.  Our experts have a perspective you are unlikely to find anywhere else.

Not sure automated workflow is right for you or where it fits in your business?  Have an idea but don’t know where to start?  Started but it isn’t going as swimmingly as you planned?

Just call us.  I bet your only regret is that you didn’t do it sooner.
Friday, September 6, 2013

Progress

By Brian Kopack

Maybe you’re right.

Maybe you’ve been right all along.

Your AP staff is in the AP Hall of Fame and your HR Dept is a paperwork dynamo.  They both handle exceptions surgically and are expert at routing documents around the organization.  Both are meticulous filers.  They spend extra time making sure everything is perfect to save time during research and verification.

They barely have to close down the departments to respond to audits.

With your Library of Congress-esque filing system, you almost never lose a single document.  You created the file structure and sub-filing structure and the sub-sub-filing structure and all of your staff go through extensive training to know and learn and live the process.

That file room you have – the one as long as a city block, it probably is just as easy for you to manage yourself.  Your small army of dedicated staff is always available to respond to the demands of your growing organization. They have leveraged the power of the logistics industry and can ship files or boxes of files around the globe overnight, so your 24 hour response time goal on file requests is almost never really in jeopardy.  Costly, but always timely.

Your processes are legendary.  Checklists on checklists.  Meticulously crafted procedures guide your staff through any scenario.  Everyone knows exactly who gets what when.  Granted, it is a challenge to map the status of what’s going on at any minute, but all great things take time, right?

On second thought, I wasn’t right thinking you were right.

With the recent observance of Labor Day, one of the things we reflect on is progress – the advancements we enjoy as a result of hard work.  In business today, progress is much more about brains than brawn. Progress is about efficiency and effective allocation of resources.  Progress is about using information’s power to drive change and innovation.

What does progress look like?  Different things to different businesses, but you know it when you see it.

Hint: It looks like Electronic Content Management.

What can it help you do?

  • Capture information automatically– eliminating manual data entry.  
  • Provide a safe and secure repository for Maintaining mission critical information.
  • Allow information to be Accessed and shared across an organization.
  • Route information automatically through an essential process workflow.

Progress can be incremental, so if the time isn’t right for complete adoption – just start somewhere.  Scan and store, intelligent records management or automated workflow.


Deciding to start is easy.  Deciding on a partner to guide you through the process is even easier.

We've summed up 6 customer stories in 6 sentences.  How's that for efficient?  Take a look.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Performance Enhancing iDea (P.E.D.)

By Brian Kopack


Performance enhancing drugs  are everywhere – maybe literally but definitely in the current public consciousness.  Lance.  Jamican and American sprinters.  Baseball players.  The intersection of sports, science (chemistry) and ethics makes for compelling debate.   At its core, the discussion boils down to humans will always want to be bigger, faster and stronger and do almost anything to make that happen.  When huge bucks are at stake, the risk reward analysis gets skewed.

Businesses are just like athletes – always looking for an edge.  They are forever looking to sell more, lower costs and to create lasting value.

In the business world today – electronic content management is a PED – which is great because it is what we are great at…and it is legal.

Businesses have a choice when deciding how to manage information – the old-world way of working around a problem, or the brave, new-world way of embracing technology to create value.

Capture      Maintain      Access      Route

As a business, if you can decide what information is important to you and how best to use that information, you are ahead of game.  If, through your process you can make the information create value in terms of faster decision making, elimination of redundant tasks, unleashing the power of your collaborative workforce, you become bionic.

Focus        Efficiency       Value

An electronic content management system can revolutionize how you see your business - allowing you to concentrate on working on your business instead of in your business.  Having your information readily available, in a format that is understandable and relevant allows for better decision making.  Better decision making equals power.  Mission accomplished.

Would embracing electronic content management as a PED improve your business? ABSOLUTELY


Would it be helpful if you knew an expert who could help you through the process?  POSITIVELY

Now you do.

               Nice to meet you.

                             Let's talk.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The 5 Reasons Nice to Have Officially Became Need to Have

By John Trimble

Companies and organizations for years have often looked at implementing document imaging (and by this I mean real document imaging, not phony copier company steal speak jargon) as a “nice to have”. This has changed. The interest in automating paper processes and investing in technology has been there for decades now but the actual tipping point has arrived. Why?

1)    Companies used the 2008 Mad Max financial apocalypse to thin their herd of employees both out of necessity as sales and profits plummeted but also as a way to clean house without the standard corporate HR gauntlet and hand wringing.

2)    While some really good people did get let go, corporations seized on this to try to keep top talent by employing pure Darwinian Natural Selection, making the rest “available to the Industry.”  All hands were on deck in crisis mode and the surviving employees had to start wearing multiple hats and doing what previously was the work and responsibilities of several positions.

3)    Fast forward; things in 2012 and now in 2013 start to improve – slowly but undeniably. Orders, activity, projects all pick up pace. The office worker, now likely a knowledge worker, is obviously not able to maintain and starts losing steam – energy – effectiveness. Frustration mounts and the relief of surviving the lay-offs is replaced by a rapidly escalating sense of burn out and reduced job satisfaction. Companies actually take note because this is occurring to their best workers – the ones they struggled to keep – and they cannot afford this level of quality employee “flight risk.” Two choices become obvious.

4)    Option one is to go old world and start to re-hire and solve the problem with throwing bodies back into the same old roles and functions. While some rehiring is occurring, companies are resisting this for two important reasons:  they are worried that the recovery could still doom loop back on to them and they will have to go thru the painful and expensive Hunger Games culling all over again. Second, they are now used to and relying on the reduced payroll and employee burden costs like healthcare that allowed them to weather the downturn in the first place and are quite reluctant to give that up.

5)    Option two: Automate – automate – automate. In today’s information exchange world that means simply allowing knowledge workers to do more actual work faster with document management, workflow, business process improvement and re-engineering. Content management…linking the scanned images of paper documents, any documents, to the ERP or host information systems, digital signatures, documents on mobile devices…. Speeding up everything.

Employee stress is reduced because instead of just telling them “we need to pull together and find a way to get this done” or some such team spirit jargon companies are now actually giving them the tools to do that very thing.

Nice to have officially became Need to Have.

At IOS we have seen and helped accomplish this for more companies than you can shake a stick at.  Ask us who and how.
Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Story Behind The Stories

By Angela Childs


I was recently asked to do a client testimonial for Cantaloupe, the company that does our corporate videos.  Mentally preparing I’ve gotten into my "way-back machine" to try and remember what prompted us to start doing videos in the first place.

It all started when the company that did the design for our website, TBH Creative, gave me some other sites to look at for examples of some new thing we were thinking about trying with our site.  I don’t even remember what we were considering because I got completely sidetracked.

While looking at one of the sites, I noticed a section on the home page dedicated to the company’s videos.  Company videos are not something I’d ever been really impressed by or something I’d want to have IOS do.  Typically they’re super boring, way too long and/or so awkward that you feel sorry for the camera-stunned employee who has forgotten how to speak conversationally and move like a human.

I don’t know what made me watch.  It was either intriguing titles or that there were things I was supposed to be doing that invited procrastination; probably the latter.  Regardless, I watched the first video and my entire opinion about corporate videos changed instantly and, sadly, that thing TBH wanted me to consider fell off my to-do list.

Why?  The video was real.  I felt like I was truly getting a sense of the company and hearing their message.  Is their product or service something I need?  The videos would help me find out but I knew after the first video that I wanted to know more and I was starting to really like them.

The video, their marketing effort, reached a potential customer who heard their message, had a positive feeling towards them, and wanted to know more about a possible fit.   That’s the whole point so mission accomplished.

IOS is a B2B company, but it’s people who buy.  It’s people that we develop a relationship with.  Telling our stories in a very authentic way allows us to show who we are and what it is that has kept us relevant and successful in a business that has transitioned from movable shelving to truly innovative, high-tech solutions in content management and business process automation.

We’ve purposefully maintained a focus purely on content management and made a commitment to our employees and our current and future customers that whatever the best practices in content management become as technology advances we’ll be the experts.

Our videos give us a way to make a connection and, if we do it right, convey that commitment, our expertise, and the side of us that makes us fun to work with.  (Or…as fun as content management gets…)

We work with Cantaloupe because they are exceptional at what they do.  If we’re going to do something, we want to be good at it and working with an expert makes us good at it.  This is where we practice what we preach.  We want to focus on what we’re good at and avoid distraction and we want to the same thing for you.   When you’re ready to look like an expert with content management, we’re ready to make it happen.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Welcome Back Twinkie

By Angela Childs


From coast to coast people are keeping an eye on grocery store shelves awaiting the return of Twinkies.  From the news of the Hostess bankruptcy first breaking and every time I’ve heard Hostess or Twinkie since, I’ve thought:

If you can’t make money selling junk food in America…

There’s a lot to unpack with the Hostess story and there is a lot of blame to go around but there are also a lot of lessons to be learned.  I, for one, have been fascinated from the beginning.

Was a big part of why they failed because they didn’t have a document management system?  Would you believe me if I said yes?

I can say this – IOS is most successful when we are solving a business problem for one of our customers.  Step back from the “what” – document scanning, workflow, system conversion, etc. and focus on the “why”.  When there’s a really compelling why then the what can have a tremendous impact.

What do I mean?  Let’s take Crate & Barrel as an example.   They were paying an outside company to audit their freight bills.  If that company found discrepancies then they would refund Crate & Barrel.

This is a standard practice but they looked at it and decided it didn't make sense.  They were paying a company to see if they had overpaid another company.

What if they could audit their own bills?  If they found the discrepancies before they paid, they’d eliminate the initial overpayment and eliminate the need to hire an outside company.

That’s where we started with them.  They came to us with a problem they wanted to solve.  Perfect.  We love that.  It was our job to dive in, uncover all the variables, learn what resources were available, the culture, dependencies, etc. and we came up with the right what.  Many pieces and parts were selected from our toolbox but for Crate & Barrel the nut was that they got a freight payment system that accomplished their goals and bolted on seamlessly to their existing content management system.

How’d it turn out?  By bringing their freight billing in-house, there were able to effectively manage freight payments, with a system that prevents duplicate invoice payment, checks and flags calculation errors, and assigns GL codes to each transaction all while not requiring any additional staff with an ROI of less than a year.

Could we have also saved a lot of people from Twinkie withdrawal?  Sadly, we’ll never know.
Monday, July 8, 2013

Looking Back To Measure Progress

By Brian Kopack

I was up in the attic recently and I found a box of stuff I’ve been saving over the years – kind of a personal time capsule.  Mostly the typical stuff, awards, baseball cards, old college uniforms and newspapers.  A lot of newspapers.  I’ve managed to save newspapers to record what I thought at the time were seminal events in history – mine or the world’s.  The last issue of the Chicago Daily News, The Washington Post the day Richard Nixon passed, the Chicago Sun Times reporting on Michael Jordan’s 1st championship - all cool to look back at now.

Then I hit the jackpot  – the centennial issue of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

 In 1989, I finished high school and started college at Butler University.  In August of that year, the WSJ centennial issue was published.  A lot of pomp and circumstance, a lot of history and most interestingly, a lot of predictions.  Now remember, in 1989, the Y2K hysteria hadn’t even started to percolate, so the question, “What do you see coming for the year 2000?” was almost science fiction.

The paper did an interview with several of the top technology minds of the time to get their perspectives on what would be next.  Robert Noyce, then the Vice Chairman of Intel predicted, “In another 10 years, we’ll replace file cabinets with computer memory…..you’d like to have everything that comes across your desk sitting in there, so you can take action on it.”

That was 1989.

He predicted the paperless office by 2000.  Unfortunately, a large portion of the business world in 2013 still hasn’t caught up to his vision.  Now I get not everyone in business has the “early adopter” gene, but even the most cautious would agree that a.) he had the right idea b.) it is totally possible today – both from a cost and effort perspective and c.) the almost 25 years since he made that prediction is a long enough beta-test to prove his idea wasn’t really a fantasy.

If you haven’t embraced electronic content management yet, what are you waiting for now?  The next big thing?  Come on, already!

Don’t be embarrassed.  Call IOS.  We won’t judge.  We’ll just help bring your business into the 21st century – finally.

One other interesting prediction (guess from who):  “The PC… will be your window to the world.  That is how you will find out about things.  Any document less than five pages will be electronic.”

At IOS, our 5 document conversion labs convert about 5,000,000 images per month and we would love to help make Bill Gates’ prediction come true.  Give him a little something to feel good about after all these years.

Call IOS – just don’t wait 24 years.

Monday, July 1, 2013

1600's London and Social Networking

By John Trimble

Tom Standage made some great observations in his recent New York Times article, Social Networking in the 1600s on how concern about the time suck of “social networking” is not new. In fact, in a very real sense it dates back hundreds of years.

He quotes $650 billion as a figure circulating today on what social networking; Facebook, Twitter, etc. could be costing the American economy each year. While that number is questionable at best and ridiculous at worst, it does historically mimic old fears and questions:  are social and technological advances drowning the worker, especially the younger workers, in indolence and useless diversion?  Specifically, these concerns are an echo from England in the 1600’s. What was the new controversial social networking delivery system back then?  Coffeehouses.

Coffeehouses sprang up in Oxford and hundreds followed in London. They even served as post offices. People went to them not just to drink coffee but to read and discuss the world, their interests and gossip. Strangers were encouraged to talk to strangers, regardless of station. True social networking.

Coffeehouses also tended to have their own specialty; politics, finance or even science. Isaac Newton wrote “Principia Mathematica” one of the cornerstones of modern science after a long discourse in a coffeehouse. At Jonathan’s, a coffeehouse in London, merchants kept specific tables where they did their transactions. Their business eventually turned into the London Stock Exchange.

But what did the media alarms of that day sound like? Pretty standard stuff…” these places were “the ruin of many serious and hopeful young gentlemen and tradesmen.”

So what does this tell us? The desire and the rewards for collaboration are anything but new. Often when a new technology or behavior set comes around it is often criticized as disruptive, wasteful and inconsistent with the prevailing notion of “work.”  I am sure a lot of time was wasted in 1600’s London trending out on the newest import from the Arab world; drinking coffee. Today, a lot of people waste a ton of time on Social Media. No question.

But at the same time, social networking then and now creates interaction and collaboration with all types of people, participation is encouraged, hidden talents and interests are uncovered, new ideas  flourish.  A 2012 report by consulting firm McKinsey and Company showed that the use of “enterprise social networking within companies increased the productivity of knowledge workers by 25%.” That number might be just as goofy as the $650 billion but it does highlight the very real upside.

Collaboration produces results and innovation. New vehicles for that create criticism and suspicion of indolence regardless of the century. That is a constant. All that is changing is the format.

Another constant?   Coffee
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

IOS Expands into the St. Louis Market: Delighted but not "Excited"

By John Trimble

It is very difficult for a technology company to decide when it is the right time to expand into a new geographic area. There are a lot of considerations; the primary one being does that new market really need our products, services, skill-sets and whatever passes for our somewhat questionable brand of charisma.

After considering this for over two years; monitoring our growing client base in the St Louis area despite not having a physical presence there, taking stock of the companies that are there already who kinda -sorta do what we do, it was decided that now was as good a time as any.

What also helped tremendously was that we knew an individual who has been active in that space for years and years. Someone who had long term relationships with clients that we could help, who knew specifically what was lacking from existing St Louis providers in terms of offerings. So we happily brought David Nemerov on-board as of June 10th.

The other piece was pure geography. St Louis is an exact equidistant destination between our offices in Indianapolis and in Kansas City. This now neatly links our offices, a veritable Chisholm Trail dotted with IOS document imaging outposts.

 I can safely use the Chisholm Trail analogy because no one I know actually remembers from their history class where the Chisholm trail really was. And no fair Wikipedia’ing it – that only cheapens the discourse.

However, I won’t say we are “excited” because that word is so overused in business communication today that is now officially white noise. As in “we are excited by the opportunities that being that being taken over in a hostile takeover brings, we are excited by the challenge of emerging from bankruptcy, we are excited  that you care enough about our new software release  that you have found over 500 bugs and counting in the first 30 days alone …enough. That word is dead to me.

No, I won’t say excited but I will say that we are delighted  to be in St Louis and are anxious to discuss our imaging systems, our Professional Services, our document scanning, our post modern and unique approach to hard copy storage. Delighted?  Absolutely.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Unafraid

By Brian Kopack


The IOS team had nationally-recognized Eve Mayer, CEO, Social Media Delivered, in to teach us
about social media.  What it is, why it is critical, how we should be making it work for us.  She was FABULOUS.  She presented with energy.  She was easy to follow. She made everything seem simple.  Maybe too simple.

Sitting through the session on day two, it hit me.  Listening to Eve dissect our business, I understood a little about what our potential customers might feel when they first talk to us.  Fear.

New ideas, new technology, new communication, a challenge to our status quo.  What’s not to be nervous about?

Eve talking to us about a plan for our blog or Twitter is probably like IOS talking about electronic records management or a paperless document approval process.  I understand the concepts.  Great ideas that we probably need, but they are different and probably hard to implement and they might not work, and I will look foolish for recommending them, and…….

The world is changing at hyper-speed.  The rate of innovation is staggering.  The power of technology is creating seismic shifts in how quickly we leverage ideas to create real value.  Recognizing that is easy.  Embracing it is not.

Being courageous isn’t the opposite of being fearful.  Being courageous is the power to act in spite of fear.

Toward the end of the session, I got over it.  Put my reservations aside and committed to moving forward.  Why?  I know the plan we put together is solid.  We can execute it well.  We have experts helping.

Where could I have learned that?

IOS customers.

For more than forty years, customers have trusted IOS to deliver state-of the-art solutions that promote their businesses forward.  Why?  We are experts - at analyzing issues - at developing solutions - at delivering value.

Experts at removing barriers to business – even fear.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Can't Wait to Get There

By Angela Childs


Without my trusty GPS buddy (my name for my Garmin), I wouldn’t be able to find my way anywhere.  I exaggerate but only a little.

Is this a sad commentary on how dependent on technology we’re getting as a society?  I say no.  I say this time is AMAZING.  Our kids don’t know any better but we do.  Everyday I find myself looking forward to the next thing and wondering how we’re going to be able to make that thing, whatever it is, improve the lives of our customers.

We’re a company that started in 1972 and our high-tech was movable shelving.  The bellbottoms and mustaches weren’t the only things that were cool.  You don’t know cool until you’ve seen a Lextriever.

I take time out now and again to be impressed that this company, of which I’ve only been a part of for 14 years, has embraced each new thing with “How do we master it?” and “How do we use it the most effectively for our customers?”

I’m excited that we’re using tablets and smart phones with our workflows.  I love that integration with DocuSign lets us extend your visibility into a business process beyond your organization.  I’m proud that with our records storage business, when you need a file, we scan it and send you a link to view on the web.    I could go on and on and if you know me you’re nodding your head.

I’m on the edge of my seat and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

By Brian Kopack


A former classmate recently interviewed Warren Buffett.  Through her blog, she solicited possible
questions, so I submitted two.  I will detail the first here and save the second for a later post.

Millions of words have been spent, written and spoken, about Warren Buffet’s investing strategies and his methods for analyzing target companies.  If either were easy to synthesize, the world would have more billionaires.  No sense wasting a question.

My question: In your analysis, how dramatic has the attitude shift in business been toward needing to harness the power of information to spur increased competitiveness?

Too obvious?

Probably no one in business better understands the power of information.  His career is built using information the masses don’t have power to interpret.  And, since he can seemingly move mountains when he speaks, I thought it was worth a try to get him to explain why he thinks information is such a valuable commodity. Almost daily, results of a new survey are released explaining the trend in business toward embracing information in all areas of the organization – not just operations, but marketing, HR and logistics.

If Becky and her producers would have selected my question and Mr. Buffett would have answered, I speculate it would have sounded like this: Business should do everything possible to capture, manage and deploy its information effectively.  Few investments provide as great a potential return. Those that ignore this trend will be left behind.

It would have sounded more profound coming from him.

My advice, get all the information you can about getting all you can from your information.  If it seems like a lot, let Imaging Office Systems help.

We remove barriers to business.
Monday, April 29, 2013

Beth Schrader Named LLS Fort Wayne's Woman of the Year

Beth & her daughter Liv at the Gala
Each year, in communities across the country, dynamic and passionate candidates engage in a spirited 10-week fundraising competition to earn The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's 'Man & Woman of the Year' titles by raising funds for blood cancer research. 

This year the Fort Wayne chapter's fundraising goal was $175,000 and the 6 candidates apparently thought that wasn't good enough going on to raise $287,100 breaking records and hopefully starting a tradition.

IOS's Beth Schrader was one of the 6 candidates.  She raised $76,663, another Fort Wayne record, and was named Fort Wayne's Woman of the Year.  It was an emotional and exhausting journey for Beth, a Leukemia survivor, and a chance to put more money in the hands of researchers on the path to a cure.  

Although someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer every 4 minutes, there is great hope for the future.  LLS is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and to improving the quality of life of patients and their families.  This is done through research, patient aid, education and advocacy with the funds raised by generous supporters.

As Beth said at the end of her speech at Friday night's gala "Cancer will eventually retreat… because it knows by now, as this evening shows, that we will never give up."
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Are you a paper enabler?

By Angela Childs
 
Our last post was about faxes being sent…in 2013.    Hang on...my pager just buzzed, except that it didn't...because it's not 1995.  We've moved on. 

I love this time that we’re living in.  I’m addicted to my iPhone, iPad, MacBook.  You name it, I want it.  Why?  Everything is at our fingertips.  From researching new technologies to finding out if Amy Adams was really on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.    It’s all right there.   I can access anything, anywhere, anytime. 

The sales manager for our western region sent me a link to a video on a new scanner, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500.  I was smitten instantly.  Connect it to your office Wi-Fi and you can scan with an App on your phone. 

Received the scanner last week and in minutes I had it connected to our Wi-Fi and had the App installed on my phone.

Launch App, scan packing slip, e-mail to purchasing, toss the paper.   Perfect.

This idea of capturing and routing paper immediately is something that we work with clients everyday to achieve.   When information is only on paper, it’s trapped.  You can get to it unless you have that piece of paper in front of you.  Crazy.

One of the ways our clients capture paper immediately is using a multi-function copier/scanner.  With my new scanner I started thinking about those multi-function copiers. 

Why are there still so many copiers?  How long has everyone been saying they want to be paperless?  Copier.   Paperless.  Copier.   Paperless.  You see why this is a problem, right?

A copier encourages the exact behavior you’re trying to discourage.  I’m trying to figure out why I’d ever want to take a paper document and make a copy that’s also a paper document.   I’ve had clients want to take away printing rights to curb dependency on paper but there’s that copier beckoning – “Go on…what’s a few more paper documents going to hurt.  No one has to know.”

Don’t fall for it.  You can have that uncluttered desk and have everything with you all time on a little 1 lb. laptop.  I do.  If you’re ready, we can help.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dear DocuSign, You won't believe this one...

By Brian Kopack

It isn’t a story I normally pay attention to.

Player released – contract faxed too late.  What?
  
Again, a professional football player was released by his team because he faxed his signed contract to the team offices too late.   The player had trouble finding a Kinko’s in Miami where he could fax his contract. 

Seriously.

A contract worth $20+ million was faxed from a Kinko’s.  Read that again, slowly.  It is 2013.  People still send faxes?  From Miami?

Am I surprised a professional football player doesn’t know that the technology exists for documents to be signed digitally and transmitted electronically?  Nope.  Am I surprised a professional sports agent doesn’t know about the same technology?  Absolutely.  Signed contracts are his business and besides, football players are really big people who get paid to collide with other people.  It is in his best interest to know.

I don’t know that I can get to the agent to tell him about DocuSign.  If I could, I would tell him how great the technology is.  How safe and secure it makes doing business.  That his business needs it – a lot.

Here is an open invitation to meet me in Miami.

Imaging Office Systems - We remove barriers to business (and faxes).
Friday, March 1, 2013

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

By Brian Kopack

Recently, I attended a fundraiser at my high school honoring our former basketball coach.  Coach R was 100% teacher.  It seemed like he was always talking.  He told a lot of jokes (most bad, but expertly delivered), so we had a hard time knowing when to take him seriously.  Here’s a Coach R classic I heard hundreds of times:

Coach R: "Kopack, (insert random question)?"

Me: Most likely a brilliant answer.

Coach R: "Do you want to change your mind?"

Me: "No."

Coach R: "So you’re happy with the one you have?" (Hear rim-shot in the background)

He loved that joke.  I hated it, every time.

The joke is poor, the message isn’t – you can be decisive if you are confident.

If you’re confident, you can concentrate on doing, excelling.  When you understand the need for change and you commit to that change, you can concentrate on the doing, the improving.

Admitting an issue exists is the first step toward improvement.  Indecision masks insecurity.

If an IOS consultant were to ask you, “Are you great at managing the power of your information?”  Could you honestly say yes?

If not, we should talk.

Content management, document conversion, records storage.  Individually or in any combination.
Imaging Office Systems – experts driving business process improvement.

We remove barriers to business.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Champion of Hope

By Angela Childs

IOS's Beth Schrader, pictured with her daughter Liv, has agreed to take on a tremendous challenge.  She was asked to participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's annual Man & Woman of the Year campaign.   For Fort Wayne, she is one of six connected community members that have accepted a challenge to raise thousands of dollars to support research and treatment for blood cancers.  Candidates are asked to join this elite group by local Nominating Committee and LLS staff members.


For Beth, it's both an honor and deeply personal.  She joined IOS in 1997 and in 1998 was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.  At that time the options available to her were - have a bone marrow transplant or don't.  Her daughter was not quite 2 years old and without the treatment, she would not have been able to be her mother for the last 14 years.


Today she's on a mission to raise $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).  Why that number?  Because it matters.  Because with that amount of money, more treatments like those which did not exist when she was sick can be found through R&D - and eventually, a cure.
  • More than one million North Americans are fighting blood cancers; the third leading cause of cancer deaths.
  • Leukemia still causes more deaths among children and young adults under 20 than any other cancer. 
  • LLS is the largest non-profit contributor to blood cancer research, funding nearly 320 projects across the globe.  
  • 78.1% of all funding goes directly toward research to find a cure for blood-related and other cancers.

LLS, her efforts, and the help that we can give makes a difference:
  • 40 years ago, a child’s chance of surviving leukemia was 3%; today 9 out of 10 live.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma patient survival rates have more than doubled to 88% since the 1960’s.
  • Survival rates for myeloma patients tripled in the past decade.

Every dollar counts.  To find out more, visit Beth's site at www.beth4lls.com, and consider helping in our battle against cancer.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Confessions of a Salesaholic - Thinking Inside the Box?

By Beth Schrader

Don’t put me in a box.  I don’t look good all wrapped up in frill, nor will I enjoy being confined.  But maybe you will…read on.

In a recent article by Steve Rolla of Pros Elite Group entitled BPO In a Box:  Business Process Optimization (published in Image Source), it was identified that the new frontier in our industry is Services.  No doubt about it.  And within this brave yet familiar new world, the focus is three-fold:  Document Management Solutions, Business Process Optimization, and Managed Network Services.  Yes, we do all three and do all three well if I do say so myself – and I do.

In today’s world, it seemingly should be harder and harder to differentiate between “solutions.”  At times, they all look and feel the same.  So how do you decide?  How do you pick the best solution?  By first realizing the solution doesn’t matter until the process is identified.  We reinvent ourselves every day, every time our cheese moves, every time a new year rolls around (at least for that first week).  Our thoughts change, our goals change, our focus changes.  So it should stand to reason that if this is the case within our personal lives, it ought to hold true within our professional lives as well.

When I change my hat from a salesperson to a consumer, here’s what I care about:  how am I going to use something I’m about to purchase.  What is my process for utilizing that which I am about to buy?  Do I stop to think about how I’m going to use Greek Yogurt?   Habitually, I eat it every morning so it deserves not much thought other than the expiration date.  It is a consumable to me.

However, do I stop to think about how I’m going to use a new bathroom which is in the process of being renovated/updated?  Absolutely.  Not only does it cost way more than $1.29, but it will last much longer, be utilized over and over again, others will see it and need to use it in a meaningful way, and it will also have a direct impact on the future resale of my home.

Business Process Optimization in a box is the same idea.  Your organization is either using or is about to be using a solution which will impact the bottom line now and for years to come.  It is a decision which should not be made lightly or on price alone.  It is a decision which should invoke deep introspection within your organization, much like when we make changes in our personal lives. 

Should you care what multi-function device you purchase?  Sure, a little.  For the most part MFD’s are a commodity and serve one (multi is kind of a stretch if you think about it) purpose.  But if you plan to ask us if they can be used as part of the bigger picture – part of the process – then that is a different conversation.  We will undoubtedly still tell you a production scanner is a better way to go (and it is), but that is one example of the kinds of discussions which should be occurring every time you are in the process of thinking about implementing or changing an ECM Solution.  No matter how small the purchasing decision may seem, it’s worth the conversation. 

So what’s inside that box?  A gift.  It’s the gift of expertise from an organization that is a strategic partner, not just a commodity.  We have the expertise to either know or learn very quickly the process surrounding the management of everything which keeps you in business.  And your solution will reflect it.
Monday, January 14, 2013

What's Holding You Down?

By Brian Kopack

Romantically, the turn of the calendar page from December to January signifies new beginnings.  Every infomercial televangelist will have you believe you can re-chart the course of your human history in one sleep.  Start over and lose all of your bad habits.

If you bought the miracle workout DVD, mattress, food processor, whatever, stop reading now.  Best of luck to you.

Resolutions are everywhere – for businesses too.

More customers, better products, more profits.  Overcome barriers – not enough: time, money, expertise.  Same issues just different flavors. 

The word resolve comes from the Latin “to untie”.

Resolve to be free yourself and your business to move forward.

The new year is about reassessment and re-commitment.  Decide what you want to do and get to work.  Action.  More Nike (“Just Do It”) than Anthony Robbins (whatever he talks about).

No business can do everything, so the trick is recruiting experts to help.

Imaging Office Systems – we are the experts for business process improvement.

We remove barriers to business.
Monday, January 7, 2013

Tackle Your Regulatory Requirements Head-On

By Angela Childs

The first step in ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements for your company is to understand all that apply to you.  It can be a daunting task.  Regulations can be confusing and burdensome, but they can’t be ignored.  Non-compliance can be a costly mistake – both financially and legally – to your organization.

How can an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System help keep you in compliance? 

Retention Management
You determine what documents are retained and for how long.  Retention periods can be as important as the documents themselves.  Be sure you know what’s required and for what period of time.  Put procedures in place for destroying documents at the appropriate times.

ECM systems with a retention management module can:
  • Enforce a structured retention policy for document destruction consistently across the enterprise
  • Proactively send alerts when documents are eligible for destruction
  • Minimize legal risks associated with accumulation of expired records
  • Document processes by creating an audit trail
Quick, Easy Access
Documents deemed critical can be identified as such, so that they can be archived for easy access during audits. 

ECM systems allow users to:
  • Classify documents using multiple keywords making them accessible many different ways
  • Add tools like full-text indexing to pull together relevant content, i.e., all documents with a confidentiality clause
  • Quickly assemble related documents, i.e., checks, invoices, purchase orders, packing slips without manual matching and filing
Control and Oversight
With an ECM, you can add many layers of access security making the though of storing documents on a shared drive or in a filing cabinet terrifying.  You can control document permissions all the way down to the individual keyword level.

You have the ability to track and control document revisions within an ECM along with a detailed history on who accessed, what, when.  This provides an important audit trail for your organization.

Workflow
Standardizing your business processes is an important step in ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. 

With workflow as part of your ECM:
  • Optimize business processes by providing a framework of rules to efficiently route electronic documents and data
  • Promote accountability by providing detailed auditable history to monitor security and employee performance
  • Enforce consistent business practices, reducing process variance and associated risk
  • Proactively engage users with automatic e-mail notifications so they participate in workflow when needed
  • Provide automation with configurable timers and unattended document processing
  • Ensure documents are processed most efficiently by available users role-based calendars and load balancing
According to studies, about 3% of all paper documents get misfiled and 7.5% of all paper documents end up lost or missing.  What happens if one of these lost or misfiled documents is needed for an audit?  Storing these business critical documents in an ECM  will eliminate this potential disaster.

Contact us for more information on compliance solutions.  We’ll help you tackle your regulatory requirements head-on.