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The Caring and Feeding of Your Enterprise Content Management System

  
  
  

The Caring and Feeding of Your Enterprise Content Management System

Enterprise Content management SystemAfter so much waiting and planning, it’s finally here – your Enterprise Content Management solution! Having a brand new ECM solution is an exciting time full of new possibilities and opportunities, but it also comes with new responsibilities. While preparing for the arrival of your ECM solution is a good portion of the work, you’re not quite done when it’s officially up and running.  As the caretaker of a new solution, keep in mind these best practices make sure you and your ECM happily work together and grow together:

Measure your success: This is important on a couple levels. First off, in order to make your ECM solution as effective as you can, you’ll need to know what’s working and what’s not so you can take action accordingly.  You may find you have a bottleneck in your processes that can be easily fixed, or find a new function that could benefit from your solution.  Second, having the numbers that support the success of your implementation will give credibility to your future projects, especially if you wish to expand your solution to other departments or processes.

Keep important information close by: Don’t let crucial information about your ECM solution reside only in the heads of a few people.  Those employees may not be available in the future, so if it’s information you don’t want to live without, make sure it’s documented where other employees can reference and learn from it.

Have a recovery plan: While having your documents in a digital format makes recovery easier already, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for anything. Make sure to back up your data regularly (once a week is a good timeframe). Also, make a plan detailing steps that need to be taken in case of an emergency, and run through it to make sure there’s no holes.

Become a pro at your solution: Just like measuring and recording the effects your ECM solution has on your processes, learning the features it has to offer is important to ensuring you’re using it in the best way possible.  A great way to do this is by attending training courses or user group meetings, or by becoming active in an online community of users with your same solution. If you inform yourself of its inner workings, you can make tweaks as your processes change and become less dependent on the help of another party.

Your Enterprise Content Management will work hard for you, but to get the most out of it, you’ve got to give some, too.  By following these few suggestions, we’re confident you and your ECM solution will have a healthy, productivity-packed relationship.

Want to learn more about Enterprise Content Management? Check out our free guide to ECM below!

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Advanced Capture Technology: The Answer to Your Data Entry Prayers

  
  
  

Advanced Capture Technology: The Answer to Your Data Entry Prayers

Advanced Capture TechnologyTypos can ruin lives, and I’m not talking about an embarrassing autocorrect error in a text message to your boss. I mean errors that destroy dreams and accomplishments. Take the case of Great Britain resident Kim Walmsley, whose career and marriage were ruined after she was mistakenly recorded as a male at birth. Or Raymond Lorenzo, who was listed as the perpetrator of identity theft instead of the victim, resulting in a life riddled with unemployment that led to bankruptcy.  Both of these ordeals and others were the aftermath of one tiny wrong piece of information.

A study by the Data Warehousing Institute reported that 75% of data quality problems are caused by manual data entry errors. This means the effect data entry has on employee time is twofold – the time it takes to log the information, as well as that spent managing and correcting any resulting mistakes. The additional risk of any large consequences that may come with the worst of data entry errors is the icing on top of a terrible tasting cake.

In addition to a reduction in accuracy resulting from human error, manual data entry creates delays that both hold up business processes and keep employees from more valuable, knowledge driven tasks.

To sidestep these problems, many organizations are using advanced capture technology to take in and organize their data, eliminating the need for anyone to tap number after number into their computer while daydreaming about a tropical vacation, only to realize they’ve been typing “Bermuda” over and over for the past hour.

Advanced capture streamlines data entry by extracting from electronic documents, then verifying it, sorting it, and dispersing it to relevant business applications.  To understand better how this works, let’s review three main types of documents:

Structured: The documents come in the exact same format, every single time. Examples of this include tax forms and loan documents.

Semi-Structured: These are documents that contain the same information, but may not consistently be in the same format; for example, AP invoices or student transcripts.

Unstructured: Unstructured documents typically contain a lot of unformatted text, such as email correspondence or word documents.

As you may have guessed, advanced capture technology works the best with structured and semi-structured documents, though it can process both handwritten and typed information.  After being extracted and indexed, will become searchable through keywords or other tags and will automatically update information in other applications.

Advanced capture comes with a wide range of ROIs as it works well in many different applications, from automated invoice processing, to insurance claims processing, to document storage and archival. In addition to significantly improving data accuracy and conserving staff time, automated data entry has the potential to improve customer service, increase productivity, ease compliance, reduce costs, and much more. Maybe it’s time to grab hold of the opportunities advanced capture provides.

To learn more about how advanced capture technology can transform your processes, contact us today or view our full list of case studies below.

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What Gartner Has to Say About Digital Business Strategies of the Future

  
  
  

What Gartner Has to Say About Business Processes and Our Digital Future

digital business strategyAs we move into 2015 with the buzz of the Consumer Electronics Show and the onslaught of new products and technologies, our eyes are on the future. This month, the percentage of people with psychic powers suddenly seems much higher as every news feed boasts their predictions for the year, but not many of these articles hold more weight than the content Gartner annually creates on the topic.

In their “Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2015 and Beyond: Digital Business is Driving Big Change”, Gartner relays that it’s now imperative for many organizations to radically alter business processes by employing a digital business strategy in order to improve the customer experience and remain competitive. According to Gartner, “The customer experience may be the most impactful area of innovation available to businesses today… The customer has all the power today, and responding to that power effectively will bring great benefits.” Their research shows that 89% companies see customer experience as the main differentiator that will set them apart from their competition by 2016, as opposed to only 36% four years ago.

More and more often, increasingly tech-savvy customers are expecting fast self-service options to be available to them wherever and whenever they want, and without technology, that’s impossible to provide. To accommodate this, many organizations are creating a digital business strategy with “supermaneuverable” business processes that can be easily changed with customers’ needs. Gartner proposes that businesses will need to take a “bimodal approach” to building these processes, using half their team to run business as usual and the other to innovate new ways of business.  By 2017, Gartner predicts that 70% of business will run on digital business models with variable processes.

In order to function at the speed necessary for future competitive business, organizations will need to employ the use of smart machines. These technologies will expand business process automation into new areas and even to some decision-making functions, which Gartner predicts will decrease the total cost of ownership for business operations by 30% by 2018.  However, the new technology will also create a shortage of qualified digital professionals such as IoT Engineers, Data Scientists, and Process Automation Integrators needed to manage these initiatives.  Gartner advises organizations with a digital business strategy (or plans for one) to begin assessing their future staffing needs as soon as possible and developing recruiting techniques so they can fill those gaps.

The coming years will certainly be interesting ones, with change happening more rapidly than ever before as new innovations are brought to market. Gartner’s predictions point to new worlds of possibilities from both business and consumer perspectives. All we can do is prepare ourselves, and get excited!

Still stuck in the muck of manual processes? Check out our case studies to see how DataBank has helped tons of organizations improve efficiency and productivity with document scanning, content management, and business process automation.

3 Workplace New Year’s Resolutions to for Business Process Transformation

  
  
  

3 Workplace New Year’s Resolutions for Business Process Transformation

Business Process TransformationIt’s officially been the New Year for seven days now – seven days to start rethinking those resolutions you so innocently made with the best of intentions. Maybe getting more sleep was a great idea until you binge-watched five seasons of Friends on Netflix. Maybe the gym sounded good until you realized how heavy weights are. After a week or a month, all too often New Year’s resolutions start sounding less like a fantastic journey to the new you, and more like a small nagging voice that eventually fades into nothing.

So readers, this is your wake-up call. Put your game face on! It’s not over yet! You can do it, and while you’re at it, maybe you can do these things too:

 

1.       Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Your Paper

There’s a lot of really easy ways to start doing this around the office. Ask your current waste pickup service if they offer recycling pick up too, and if they do, set up recycling bins around the hallways instead of trashcans. Print on both sides of the paper, and keep a tray full of scrap paper near the printer for reuse. Only print if absolutely necessary. If you’re more serious about eliminating paper, consider scanning your back files and implementing automated, electronic processes instead of manual, paper-based ones.

2.       Assess Your Business Processes

It’s 2015, and instead of wallowing in our disappointment about the lack of the flying cars and hoverboards that Back to the Future promised us, we should be thankful for the slew of technology we can leverage for business process transformation. Maybe this year, it’s time to review your operations and identify areas where you can most easily use technology to drive efficiency while getting the biggest ROI. Or maybe this is the year to replace old legacy software with something that works better with your current processes.  The opportunities are out there; you just need to find them.

3.       Get Organized

The fast pace of the modern world doesn’t leave much time for organization, and many office employees have set their sights on finally achieving inbox zero, cleaning out their old files, and regularly backing up their hard drives.  While these are good goals, maybe it’s time to think bigger.  What about enterprise-wide organization, where files are easily shared regardless of location, and easily found with keywords and tags? What if you never had to search for the latest version of anything? With a little effort and the right software, you can make it possible.

The New Year may be seen as a time to transform yourself, but why not think about some business process transformation, too? Start small, and build your way up to high efficiency operations that will drive your productivity and save you loads of time. You’ve got 358 days left!

Want to improve your business processes, but don’t know where to start? Try checking out our infographic below: The 5 Stages of Going Paperless.

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless

3 Reasons We’re Sure Santa Knows His Business Process Solutions

  
  
  

3 Reasons We’re Sure Santa Knows His Business Process Solutions

santa information managementThere’s no denying that Santa has a tough job. Managing enough elves to craft toys for the world, keeping track of who’s naughty and who’s nice, delivering gifts to hundreds of millions of children in one night, AND maintaining a happy marriage to Mrs. Claus? And you think YOU’RE busy!

What with his hoards of elven employees and his naughty/nice list, Santa probably has enough paperwork to keep his fireplace lit for the rest of his (suspiciously long) life.  Given the enormity of his operation and the amount of Apple products that will find their way under a Christmas tree this year, it’s clear that Santa must wholeheartedly embrace technology. Here’s three reasons why that’s a good thing:

1.   Santa doesn’t have room for errors

No one wants their house to be skipped due to an error in Santa’s data. Little Susie’s house number was somehow excluded from Santa’s giant black book? Whoops, there goes her new collection of Frozen dolls! Since cases like this seem to be unheard of (at least, nothing in the news will come up if you Google it), we can assume that Santa has immaculate data and probably uses an advanced capture system to take in and organize his information as it comes in. Way faster and way more accurate than manual data entry – just what Santa needs.

2.   Population: Quite a few, I’d say

Santa has a lot of people to keep track of. A LOT. And when they’re all constantly changing addresses and having more children and such, things get a bit complicated. To manage of all that, Santa needs to have a pretty heavy flow of information coming and going from all over the world, presenting a slew of logistical challenges. As time is of the essence at the North Pole, Santa probably uses workflow automation so all that information is automatically routed to the correct elves for processing.

3.   An operation of this magnitude requires a pretty large team

Speaking of elves, there’s a lot of those too. I don’t know how hiring processes or vacation time works up there, but I have to assume that Santa has a pretty solid HR department. All those workers come with a lot of paperwork, and managing all of it is no easy task. That’s why we think Santa must have a robust document management solution to ensure information stays organized, accurate, and complete so processes can run smoothly.

Santa puts in a lot of work, maybe more than any of us can fathom. It’s not easy having seas of children depend on you year after year, but Santa doesn’t do it alone. Along with his trusty troop of elves, he’s got top-notch technology to help carry some of the burden. This Christmas, we can all take a lesson out of Santa’s book on not only work ethic and generosity, but information management.

Interested in learning more about what business process solutions can do for you? Check out our infographic below - The 5 Stages of Going Paperless! 

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless

The Difference Between Customization and Configuration: What You Need to Know

  
  
  

The Difference Between Customization and Configuration: What You Need to Know

configuration vs customizationEven though they sound similar, customization and configuration are completely different from each other when it comes to maintenance, complexity, and investment. A highly customized solution might sound like a great idea in the same way buying a baby tiger sounds like a great idea, but in a couple years, you might have a bit more than you bargained for. Your fancy solution created exactly to your specifications will likely turn into more problems than it’s worth, just like your cute snuggly feline friend will turn into a giant, not-so-snuggly alpha predator. Don’t even think about delving into a business process solution implementation before knowing the details, or you might soon find yourself in over your head.

 

The Difference

Configuration and customization are two different strategies to making an application or solution work for your particular requirements. Configuration fits a solution to your needs using only options that come with an out-of-the-box installation. Nothing new is created, and only existing functions can be used. Customization works in the opposite way – new code is written to meet exact specifications and add new capability that was not previously available.

How It Affects Your Installation

1.   Price

As customization requires more work and more man hours to set up, it’s typically much more expensive than if the solution only requires configuration, and the implementation process takes considerably longer. Even after the implementation, you’ll have to pay more for any additional coding taking place for maintenance, which brings us to our next point:

2.   Upkeep

To quote one of our own solutions experts, “If it takes an army of programmers to create it, it will take one to maintain it.” The upkeep of a heavily customized solution or application is particularly problematic to organizations that have little IT support, but it’s a strain even on ones that do.  Every time requirements change or an update is released, more code needs to be written in order to support your previous alterations. In addition to being expensive and time-consuming, customization may inhibit your organization’s ability to keep software up to date, as many managers put it off to avoid having to re-customize their solution.

3.   Over-customization

One thing to avoid is the over-customization of a solution in an attempt to fit it to specifications that may overreach its core capabilities.  Functions that are added have not previously been tested elsewhere and may not work, only adding more complications.

Although customization will enable your solution to meet all of your requirements exactly without having to rework any process details, a project with large amounts of code may bring on massive expenses and frequent complications. Finding a highly configurable solution is often a much easier way to tailor your software to your operations.

Given the large amounts of risk that come with heavy customization, configuration seems like an obvious choice, but it just may not be possible to find a successful solution without having to code at all. In these cases, it’s best to try to minimize the customization as much as you can, and brainstorm possible ways to alter processes so they require less coding.

DataBank has assisted many organizations with implementing successful business process solutions that produce high ROIs. See our list of case studies below!

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Taking Process Improvement Steps? How to Avoid Common Pitfalls

  
  
  

Taking Process Improvement Steps? How to Avoid Common Pitfalls

process improvement stepsNothing good comes without a little blood, sweat, and tears.  For a spectacular view, there’s a mountain to be climbed. To get to dessert, you have to eat your vegetables. In order to eat a Pringle, you have to either try to cram your hand into a can that’s too small or dump all the chips out.

There’s much to be gained from streamlining your business processes, but they won’t streamline themselves. A successful implementation requires good planning, communication, and strategy, but it’s worth it. Here’s three ways to make sure you avoid common pitfalls so your solution works as hard as it should:

 

1.   Developing Good Practices Along with your Software:

If you only take away one thing from this blog post, take away this point. You can have all the cutting edge software in the world, but if employees are still trying to work with physical documents, it doesn’t matter. If your new, shiny solution is the butter, change is the bread. Slightly less tasty, maybe only there to transport butter into your mouth, but still a necessary part to your concoction. Eating just butter doesn’t work well as a snack or any meal, and trying to take process improvement steps with just some software and no real foundation will work just as well. In order to make your solution as effective as possible, back it up with a real change of habits, and work with your solution, not against it.

2.   Getting management behind paperless practices:

According to AIIM President John Mancini, in response to a survey, only 35 percent of organizations said they had a policy in place specifically to enforce paperless business practices. Mancini also states that nearly half of organizations count “Lack of management initiatives or mandates” as a top inhibitor to using less paper.  With numbers like these, it’s no wonder so many organizations struggle to achieve success when it comes to streamlining business processes.  

In order for a paperless initiative to really take off, management needs to be engaged from start to finish, and new policies should be created that support your process improvement steps and keep your momentum going. Without that authority, it’s possible to implement a solution, but still use just as much paper for processes that are just as slow. If your solution is the butter, and change is the bread, management the hand that stuffs your mouth full of snacks.

3.   Checking your approach to a paperless office:

I promise there will be no more bread and butter references, but warning - the next sentence may shatter all your dearest hopes and dreams. Your office will not be paperless any time soon.  Until every organization has embraced paperless strategies and employees have become comfortable with viewing all their documents digitally, paper will remain an integral part of business. Instead, the paperless office is something to work towards, a little at a time. Don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed by the idea of a creating a whole “paperless office” to even begin to take process improvement steps, and don’t settle for a one-size-fits-all solution that won’t properly fit your needs. Start by transforming a single business process, or even part of a process, that’s particularly paper-intensive to drive efficiency in specific areas at a time, then build on those successes in other processes and departments.

Once you’ve got some wins under your belt, getting future projects approved will be easier, and by working incrementally, you can lay a foundation and find out what works in terms of new policies, communication methods, modes of implementation, and the like. By using solutions or modules specifically geared towards accomplishing your goals, you’ll be able to better solve those niche problems.

Done correctly, business process solutions are worth every ounce of effort you put into them, and at DataBank, we try to make the entire solution process as smooth as possible to minimize your blood, sweat, and tears and maximize your rewards. For more information on how we’ve helped other organizations benefit from improved business processes, check out our full list of case studies below. 

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Human Resources Automation: A Great Way to Impress New Hires (and Auditors)

  
  
  

Human Resources Automation: A Great Way to Impress New Hires (and Auditors)

human resources automationGrowing your company by hiring new employees is exciting as new talent and new minds come together to form new ideas. But from a human resources perspective, every new employee comes with a life story that must be documented on paper before they start contributing. Often, this paperwork involves the input of several different employees from different departments, and when Joe – the guy from payroll, Betty – the lady from HR, Damaris – the new hire’s new supervisor, Jack – the new hire’s 2nd cousin twice removed, Linda – a lady the new hire met on the plane once, and Jeff – who no one actually knows but still needs to sign something or other, all have to be involved in the process, it gets complicated.

In addition to maintaining organized paperwork from tons of people, manual hiring processes generate other difficulties, too. Paper process are expensive and time consuming, requiring lots of data entry and printing, signing, and scanning, making the whole operation more difficult for both parties. When multiple candidates are being hired at a time and paperwork starts flying in every direction, it’s easy to overlook missing or incomplete information. When all is said and done, hiring managers also often don’t know if company policies and new hire packets were actually read and understood by incoming employees.

By using applying human resources automation to the new hire process, organizations can minimize the steps needed to get paperwork in order and simplify the actions that need to be taken on all sides.  New employees can input their information electronically, reducing the use of paper and quickening their application and offer acceptance (while decreasing data entry on your side). Electronic forms can be easily routed to managers in other departments who are involved in setting up payroll, workspaces, and the like, and HR managers can quickly access or file all relevant paperwork and keep the entire process running smoothly.

In addition to streamlining communication and collaboration, human resources automation simplifies compliance as well as audits by automatically notifying human resources if any information is missing from employee files or filed incorrectly. The ability to limit who has access to stored employee information also provides higher security and better privacy.

New hire processes are just a small part of how human resources automation can lend a hand to optimizing a wide range HR functions. It’s just as important for an organization to make a good first impression on a new employee as it is for those employees to do the same on their first days.  Business process automation allows newcomers to get plugged in and start contributing quickly and helps HR managers to breeze through paperwork and logistics so they can turn their attention to more pressing issues.  To see how DataBank has helped other organizations achieve higher human resources efficiency, check out our free guide to streamlining your HR processes below!

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Microfilm and Microfiche Scanning: An Open Letter to Microform Users

  
  
  

Microfilm and Microfiche Scanning: An Open Letter to Microform Users

Microfilm Graphic

Dear Users of Microfilm and Microfiche,

Unless you’re doing your work from a typewriter while listening to your favorite cassette tapes and receiving messages on your beeper, you’ve probably taken advantage of the many every-day-life improvements that have been made over the past several decades. But still, here you are trying to load your microfilm without slicing your finger.

I get it. Some things are sentimental. Athough really, it’s probably not sentiment, but more likely the cost of scanning. Time is money, too, though, and microforms spend a lot of it.  So much of it, in fact, that it may be cheaper to just go ahead and digitize all that information.

Aside from cost, there’s many reasons to seize the opportunities microfilm and microfiche scanning provides. Other organizations expect digital versions of pretty much everything, and providing it is much faster if that’s already the form your information is in. No more spending tons of time manually searching through your records to find the right one, then printing it, then scanning it, then sending it, then trying to remember what you were doing before this long interruption. Once your information is stored electronically, business processes are quicker and easier, and they involve less frustration and more actually getting things done with your limited time. 

Not only is storing your information electronically simpler, it’s more secure than storing a single hard copy in a back room. Your important data should be treated as such. With your information a digital format, you can be better prepared for emergency scenarios by backing it up.  Even better, if it’s stored in the cloud, employees can access it from any location in seconds. Not only will sharing content be faster, often you may not have to share it at all when others can access it themselves.  With this improved accessibility, collaboration and even customer service is easier, as you can also give the public online access to records and archives they may otherwise be asking you for.

As the world becomes more and more of a digital place, organizations must adapt to stay relevant and keep their competitive edge. If you’re aging business processes are holding back your productivity and service, maybe it’s time to re-assess your microform situation and take action. And, of course, if you do decide it’s time to scan your microforms, we’re here to help every step of the way.

By the way, did you know that scanning is the first step to a paperless office? To test your knowledge on paperless and see the other stages in our “5 Stages of Paperless” infographic, click the button below!

Sincerely,

DataBank

5StagesInfographicDownloadButton

Highlights and Key Takeaways from Our “5 Stages of Paperless” Webinar

  
  
  

Highlights and Key Takeaways from Our “5 Stages of Paperless” Webinar

going paperlessLast week, DataBank had the pleasure of hosting a webinar on one of our favorite topics – “The 5 Stages of Going Paperless”. (If you’re unfamiliar with the 5 Stages, check out our recent blog series to fill yourself in.)

As a quick recap, the 5 Stages of Paperless gives a high-level summary of the milestones hit by organizations as they transform their manual, paper-based processes into ones that are electronic and streamlined. The 5 Stages are as follows:

 

1.   Back file scanning – Convert paper files into an electronic format and store them in a single repository

2.   File indexing – Organize your electronic content so it can be retrieved quickly and easily

3.   Integration – Leverage applications and solutions you already have, and simplify and accelerate your processes

4.   Automation – Build electronic workflows to automatically complete repetitive tasks so you can focus your energies on higher value projects

5.   Case management – Combine data management, document management, and process automation to optimize even processes completed on a case-by-case basis

The webinar was presented by Paul Gorman, a Government Solutions Expert at DataBank, who gave us several great insights for working towards a paperless office. A few of these he called these his “3 Universal Truths”:

1.   The second you finish automating a business process, something happens that will require you to change it.  Make sure your solution allows you to easily make changes as your see fit.

2.   If it took an army of programmers to write the workflow, it will take an army of programmers to maintain it. It’s optimal to have a solution that does not require tons of coding to alter and maintain.

3.   Effective case management requires data, documents, and business process workflow in the same solution, or else your solution will only become an additional information silo.

Interested in how other government organizations are managing their business process initiatives? During the webinar, we took a few polls so attendees could see where their peers were standing in their efforts towards a paperless office. Below are some of points of interest uncovered by our results:

-   33% of attendees reported that no more than 25% of documents within their organization were stored electronically. The second most popular answer was between 50-75% of documents with 28% of respondents.

-   39% of respondents reported using network directories to store information, and 28% have a centralized Enterprise Document Management system, but 11% have no electronic filing system whatsoever.

-   A whopping 60% of attendees reported that they used no automated workflow processes.

You can view the webinar in its entirety, complete with a short demo, here.  To test your knowledge on the 5 Stages of Paperless and download our infographic with more interesting facts and stats, click our button below!

 going paperless infographic
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