Paperless Processing Moving From Fear To Confidence In Buying

The Internet, cell phones, and other modern technology have helped us achieve more than ever in our businesses and personal lives. 24/7 access to information means we expect information when we want it, making it hard for us to wait. When we experience delays, we hem, haw, and sigh in impatience. If the wait is nominal, we might tolerate it. If it creates a hassle, we may move our business elsewhere. Case in point: Last week, a yellow check light lit up on the dashboard of my van. I remembered a catalytic converter had been replaced, and went straight to the dealer. On arrival, a worker turned toward a wall of color-coded files to pull my paperwork. We dont have a record of a catalytic converter installation in your name. Was it over a year ago? he asked. Two, I replied. Ill have to go upstairs into the storage room and look for your record. Sigh. Ten minutes later he returned with a file, but without a transactional record. I showed a copy of the work order, giving proof of installation. Embarrassed, he said, We must have misfiled it. He went upstairs again (sighten more minutes) and found it filed under a person with the same last name. The trips upstairs, delay waiting for my file, missing paper, and misfiled document all would have been avoidable with electronic document management (EDM). Before leaving, I asked if the dealer had considered converting to electronic records to make their jobs easier. Its too expensive, he replied. Besides, we dont have time to look into it. Its not that important. After all, our job is to fix cars. The next time I have a problem, I sure hope they have electronic records in place. After all, my time is valuable, too. Embrace the need to change. If youre running a paper-based business, chances are you know you need to move toward electronic files, or you wouldnt be reading this article. You probably realize that your customers increasingly expect the same rapid communication, accurate information, and instant service as everyone else. If you neglect to adapt, competitors will skate past you with speed and better service, eventually luring customers away. If youre not technically minded, the thought of converting from paper can be intimidating. However, you can take some concrete steps to overcome fear and move ahead. Indira Ghandi once said, You cant shake hands with a clenched fist. You know you need to change, so look at it as a golden opportunity for your business, and dig in. Get educated about EDM. Helpful information about EDM is readily available on the Internet. If you need to learn the lingo and the vendors on the scene, AIIM, ARMA, and TAWPI are three associations that provide excellent information. ECM Connection and Techinfocenter also provide educational white papers as well as information about vendors and their products. If you already know the jargon and have a basic understanding of the process, but not enough to proceed confidently, try reading Developing an Enterprise Vision for Business Process Automation and A Managers Checklist for Transitioning to a Paperless Office (at to help you get started. Dont be a lemming. Being successful with EDM requires careful research, asking questions, and creating a detailed plan. While its vital to choose an experienced vendor, sales volume doesnt always mean customer satisfaction or results. Just because thousands of people bought a new device on the first day it was available doesnt mean it turned out to be great. It may just have been tremendous marketing for a not-so-stellar product. When you purchase EDM, youre investing in your future. Make sure your chosen vendor has products and services that deliver results. Ask your peers: Was the vendor easy to work with? Were inquiries answered quickly? Did the company deliver clear project plans with timelines and consequences for delays? Were services available to assist with document analysis, planning, and testing? After the product was installed, was adequate training provided? How has customer support been after the implementation? Dont just follow the lemmings because statistics suggest everyone else is. Get proof of results. Learn from your peers. Undoubtedly, some of your peers have implemented EDM unsuccessfullyperhaps more than oncebefore getting it right. Document management is mature technology with many success stories. There is no reason to be stuck with vendors that wont work with you; products that dont deliver on promises; or derailed plans due to pooror non-existentcommunications. Ask your vendors for references. If they provide testimonials but no customers to call, dont sign a contract. Remember that your peers arent restricted to people in your industry. Many vendors serve customers in multiple markets. They, too, may have advice from lessons learned. Take advantage of your vendors knowledge. If youre searching for a long-term solution that will grow with you, you need the right hardware, software, and services to support you as your needs change. Reputable vendors are used to providing business solutions rather than just products. They should be able to recommend partners whose offerings complement their own. Ask for their advice. If theres a product or feature your vendor doesnt offer, dont just strike the company from your list. Ask if they have partnered with another vendor that will fill your need, rather than choosing a company with everything on your checklist but no references. Make sure the vendor will provide sufficient training, documentation, and support. Theres no such thing as a free lunch. Youre bound to discover vendors that tout EDM software for free or for a minimal investment. Two examples are SharePoint and OpenSource software. Each product offers value; each has limitations. Understand what you need. Make sure the vendors strengths complement your needs. If youre looking for a long-term solution for document storage, file retention, and process automation, recognize that while these solutions have a place in the market, you get what you pay for. Make a choice that will grow with you for decades and serve your long-term needsnot an option that makes you start over as you uncover its shortcomings. Ask vendors about pricing and payment options. If they want your business and expect to be a long-standing partner in your success, they will help you find a solution that will fit your needs and your budget. If they cant, they should direct you elsewhere. Dont pretend – get your staff involved. Great leaders recognize their staffs talents and their own limitations. Help employees understand and buy into your vision. Encourage them to share ideas that will refine it. Discover who has the knowledge and passion internally to help you find the right solution. Build a team that will embrace your vision, perfect it, and drive it toward completion. Enthusiasm, commitment, and strong communication and interpersonal skills are just as important as understanding IT. (See Planning and Executing Your ECM Project: Assembling the Right Team for helpful information about assembling the right team for your EDM project.) Dont just walk away. Even if youre a non-technical person and would rather push the project on someones lap and walk away until its finished, dont do it. Your employees need to understand your vision for the business, hear your commitment to the project, and know who will be responsible for carrying it through. You dont have to do it yourself, but dont disappear into the woodwork. Be a sponge – but dont communicate like one. Implementing EDM is exciting, yet challenging. New ideas and discoveries about your business will result in changes, adaptations, andif change is substantialaltered timelines. Whatever you learn must be communicated to your staff so they can work with the project rather than expending their energies in frustration, wondering whats next. Make your project transparent. Reaching success Moving toward paperless processing is challenging, but it doesnt have to be overwhelming. You will learn much as you engage in staff communications aimed to improve your business. Your businessand youwill emerge stronger. Douglas Adams once quipped, I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. If you do your research, ask the right questions, and create a detailed plan, you, too, will end up where you want (and need) to be sooner than you think. About the Author: Laurel Sanders joined Optical Image Technology as the Director of Marketing in August, 2004 and was named Director of PR and Communications in January of 2008. Business articles by Laurel have been featured regularly in imageSource, Office World News, TAWPIs today, document, and ECM Connection. .docfinity.. Article Published On: 相关的主题文章: