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Successfully Deploying Document Imaging Systems

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A successful document imaging project is much more than just installing scanners, software, and/or hardware. For a project to be successful, meticulous research into a company's business process and effective strategizing must be conducted prior to implementation. This ensures that a company's business process will truly benefit from the solution and that employees will quickly embrace the new technology. Organizations that skip this essential—but sometimes lengthy—planning phase will inevitably be plagued by the common pitfalls prevalent in most technology implementation projects:

  • Lack of understanding of what the problem in the business process really is
  • Resistance from users on changing the way they usually do things
  • System integration issues
  • Short-term focus, sacrificing long-term viability
  • Limited, undefined, and misunderstood scope
  • Missed deadlines

Not surprisingly, the Standish Group Chaos Report of 2004 found that 53% of software projects were "challenged" or had difficulty meeting their goals, 18% failed, and only 23% were successful. Additionally, other analyst firms, such as Gartner and Forrester, have concurred with these findings, revealing that very few IT projects end up seeing the light of day.

Document imaging projects are not an exception and in fact are much more susceptible to failure. This is because "changes" are usually implemented companywide and affect the very core of the business process. Combine this with software and hardware implementation issues, user training, integration with business systems, new rules and exceptions, and different handling situations, and it is easy to see why document imaging projects are not only challenging but are usually doomed to failure.

The good news is that companies can steer clear of the "implementation drama," while easily avoiding common pitfalls. However, for this to happen, project leaders must have a firm grasp of the basic tenet of document imaging—namely, that the focus should be not on the technology, but rather the business process itself.

It's Not About the Technology

Most technical implementations fail not because of the technology per se, but because the needs and desires of the business user community were not taken into account. As a result, it is vital that project leaders listen intently to their business users as a prerequisite, especially where information is interconnected to legacy and leading applications that keep track of all facets of the business process. This ensures that document imaging projects are successfully addressing real-time problems and not creating more obstacles for users in the future.

Additionally, project leaders should take into account the role of each department in the business process, while taking note of the way departments are interconnected and the large amount of information they share on a daily basis. In the past, document imaging projects were specific to a single department, but trial and error has shown that successful document imaging projects provide a technical infrastructure capable of carrying an enterprisewide imaging solution.

Let us take as an example the procurement-to-pay process. Departments involved in this part of the business process may include IT, Purchasing, Receiving, and Accounts Payable. Each has an intrinsic part in how paper gets from the mailroom to its final resting place in a filing cabinet. A document imaging project leader should successfully determine what role each department has in this process, while at the same time determining what kinds of papers are being processed (invoices, purchase orders, etc.), how documents are filed and stored (e.g., by customer name or number, invoice number, etc.), and how documents travel inside or outside of the company. Project leaders will also find that once users are tapped for information, more and more important facets of the business process will come to light. It is only after this information is gathered and understood that efforts should be put in determining what type of technology is needed.

After the research phase, a detailed "business design" should be created that will identify or define the following key elements:

  • The current business process, business goals, a proposed design, and the way it will change or modify the current business process
  • What role each department will have in the implementation project and who the contact in the department should be
  • An overall project leader responsible for keeping the project moving forward
  • Implementation milestones
  • A project sponsor responsible for serving as a liaison between project leaders and the company's executive body

While this plan, or blueprint, may take sometime to research and create, it will ensure that all parties are kept informed and have the opportunity to voice their opinion. Most importantly, it will ensure a successful document imaging project.

Common Problems

It is important to distinguish between masking a problem versus eliminating
a problem. Many software/hardware solutions tackle the problem but not the cause; therefore, the problem continues to come up endlessly. As a result, it is important that not only are project goals identified, but also it is understood why changes are being implemented. Common problems many organizations may want to resolve include these:

  • Too much paper bogs down the process and makes it difficult to respond to customer inquiries.
  • Too many file cabinets result in lost physical space and added expenses for document retrieval.
  • It takes too much time and costs too much to find information.
  • Distributed offices make it challenging to share documents.
  • A need exists for increased security in accessing information.
  • Industry/government regulations must be adhered to.
  • Too many unintegrated systems make it difficult to distribute documents.
  • The company can't take advantage of vendor discounts because of the time required to process payments.
  • The approval process is cumbersome and time-consuming.

Identify Goals and Requirements

Identifying goals and requirements is the key component to a successful document imaging project plan. It is important to have consensus among all team members what the goals and requirements will be. This will help define the scope of the project, while keeping everyone focused. Here are some examples of goals:

  • Eliminate paper-based retrieval.
  • Provide immediate access to purchasing through A/P-related documents
  • Streamline workflow and exception-handling processes.
  • Provide an automated audit trail to meet regulations.
  • Reduce people costs/time.
  • Eliminate off-site storage.
  • Provide greater longevity for your documents.
  • Make more space available.
  • Take full advantage of A/P discount opportunities in a more timely manner.
  • Consolidate Accounts Payable operations in one single office, eliminating redundant processes at other locations.
  • Utilize immediate access to all POs, requisitions, receiving documents, and invoices for better, timely, accurate information.
  • Provide access to all authorized users at any location from their workstation.
  • Electronically capture invoices and POs when they arrive at the company and use electronic workflow for approval and GL coding.
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for multiple copies of certain documents.
  • Reduce the labor expense for processing POs and Requisitions (printing, copying, filing, document research, etc.).
  • Reduce the mailing and shipping costs associated with delivery of customer records to and from remote locations.
  • Reduce the time and work effort for audits with imaged documents.

The Technical Design

Another important aspect of the planning phase is to document the technical design. This helps solidify ideas, goals, and analysis, while giving individuals an opportunity to review the technical design as a whole. Additionally, this process ensures that each person is aware of what exactly he/she will be held accountable for.

The technical design should answer the key questions of the underlying foundation of the paperless implementation. Essentially, it serves as a blueprint that will guide the technical aspects of the project. In other words, while the business design answers the "what," the technical design answers the "how."

Team members responsible for creating this document must go back to the process identified in the business design and fill in the technical details. By thinking through a technical lens, team members must investigate how available technology can be used to achieve business goals and what requirements must be met to successfully implement the identified technology. This process will not only elicit important questions regarding the technological infrastructure, but also will prevent major integration problems.

Calculate ROI

The ROI justifies to all stakeholders of the company, especially those making the decision to go forward with the proposed imaging solution, that it is worth the risk. The RO I numbers can also serve as metrics against which the project will be measured. Used as measures of success, they clearly illustrate whether the solution is delivering on its promise.

For a document imaging solution, the ROI is broken in two major categories: hard and soft savings.

Hard savings:

  • Reduction in personnel
  • Reduction in operating costs (photocopying, postal mailing, courier services)
  • Reduction in infrastructure costs (sell a building, remove filing cabinets, etc.)
  • Increase in productivity, measured by man hours saved not handling paper (standing at fax machine, looking for lost or misplaced files, etc.)
  • Increase in cash flow (taking advantage of vendor discounts, being able to invoice earlier, etc.)

Soft savings:

  • Improved customer service (higher customer satisfaction)
  • Better and faster access to information
  • Faster internal communications

One of the best ways to fully capture the ROI is to understand what the current costs are and identify how much you will save by implementing a paperless solution. In fact, most companies are surprised to see how much money they are actually spending on document management tasks. Take into account the following figures reported by the Gartner Group.

  • Knowledge workers spend 20% of their time on document management tasks.
  • The average document is copied, either physically or electronically, nine to 11 times at a cost of about $18.
  • Documents cost about $20 each to file.
  • Retrieving a misfiled document costs about $120.

A good ROI for a document imaging opportunity is Accounts Payable (A/P). All invoices and other payable-related documents lead to A/P, thus making it one of the most paper-heavy departments in a company. As a result, it's not a bad idea to start your imaging project in the A/P department and then extend to others.

Other paper-heavy departments that will benefit greatly from a document imaging solution include customer service and human resources.

Moving Forward

To recap, it is important that all pertinent users from all collaborative departments be involved in implementing the document imaging project. This will provide project leaders with a more holistic understanding of how things are being done at present and what problems are prevalent in the business process. It will also help project leaders identify the costs associated with the current process and estimate what the overall ROI will be. It is also important to have a detailed project plan that documents your findings, goals, technical design, and requirements. This will not only help identify the concrete obstacles the business process faces, but also help in identifying and achieving goals that the entire team can agree upon.

The most critical factor in ensuring a successful project, however, is to always keep in mind that paperless or imaging projects are more than just technology. As a result, it is imperative that you select a solution provider that can help your company create your business and technical designs or that you use your business and technical designs to choose a solution provider. Beware of those who say you don't really need this. Project management is vital to any successful implementation, and there is no way to avoid the planning phase without putting your project in jeopardy.

Kurt Wachtendorf is Director of Solution Sales at Quadrant Software. Kurt is a Certified Document Imaging Architect (CDIA+) with over 15 years of experience in Paperless Process Management (PPM). Having been personally involved in the sales, design, and implementation of turn-key solutions for customers in virtually every industry, Kurt is a frequent speaker on topics involving the application of technology to business issues.

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    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.