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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

Case Management Solutions: The 5th Step to a Paperless Office

  
  
  

Case Management Solutions: The 5th Step to a Paperless Office

(View Steps 123and 4)

CasemanagementSherlockOf all the crazy things that we make computers do for us, there’s one thing we have yet to replace with silicon and robot voices, and that’s human judgment. Until we’ve unleashed artificial intelligence and inevitably doomed ourselves to a dystopian future, it takes a special human touch to truly think and consider.  

In a business environment, there’s many situations that require the knowledge and expertise of an experienced worker. Customer support, social work, or any other job description that requires matters to be handled on a case-by-case basis are prime examples of scenarios that need personal time and attention. With that said, it doesn’t mean technology can’t help you out along the way, and that’s where a case management solution comes in.

Case management often involves the multiple individuals and information in all kinds of forms, from email correspondence to images to notes written on a Chinese takeout menu. This diverse conglomeration of information isn’t the easiest to organize and share, leading to collaboration and communication difficulties and hold-ups in decision making.  The mishandling of all of this difficult-to-manage content can lead to compliance and security issues as well as data inaccuracies that could form the basis for misinformed decisions.

A case management solution helps you to overcome these vulnerabilities by combining document management, data management, and business process automation to provide knowledge workers with a top-to-bottom view of their entire case. Information that is stored together, easily searchable, and can all be displayed in front you at the same time helps facilitate faster, more informed decision making.

All this content can be stored securely on the cloud with access given to individuals who need it, regardless of their location. Case management solutions improve communication between parties, which allows you to provide higher quality service at an accelerated rate and gives you an opportunity to connect more closely with your clients. In the case management world in particular, this kind of boost will let you buckle down on the facets of your job that matter the most.

Case management solutions give employees the power to do their jobs efficiently and even more important, effectively, without being constrained by technological limits. By complementing the knowledge worker’s intuition and experience with modern software’s capabilities, these solutions can help your organization to help others. To learn more about case management solutions and the 5 Stages of Going Paperless, download our infographic below. 

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless

Business Process Automation: The 4th Step to a Paperless Office

  
  
  

Business Process Automation: The 4th Step to a Paperless Office

(View Steps 1, 2, and 3)

business process automationBy now, you’re well on your way to a paperless office. You’ve scanned tons of back files, finding information doesn’t make you want to pull out your hair, and you’ve got some pretty solid integrations going. Congratulations! You’ve come a long way, but there’s still more to be done.

There’s a good chance you’re still spending too much time on low value tasks, like document routing and approval or data entry.  But we’ve got good news – repetitive steps like these can be automated so you can free up your time to focus on more important initiatives. If you’re considering a business process automation implementation, below is a quick overview of some things you should know.

-   Which processes should I automate?

Redundant processes, for example accounts payable invoice processing, are usually ripe for automation. Anything for which a workflow can be created and set to follow a certain set of rules is worth looking in to. Other ideas are to automate approval processes, electronic forms processing, and document routing.

-   What are the benefits of process automation?

Automating business processes can generate a wide range of benefits.  You probably won’t be surprised to know the most common and substantial ones are saved time and money, but depending on the process in question, there can be many more – improved customer service, better relations with vendors, improved compliance, getting a leg up on your competition, and higher data accuracy, to name just a few. There’s all kinds of opportunities to fix a big variety of problem areas in your organization with business process automation, and this is a chance to get creative with your solutions.

-   What makes a good implementation?

The quick answer is good planning and good communication. It’s smart to start slow, with a single process or even part of a process, and to pick what will give you the biggest payoff as opposed to just the easiest project.  Choose software that will allow you to accomplish your goals without requiring a team of programmers and a truckload of custom coding. A good rule of thumb is “If it requires an army of programmers to build, it will require an army of programmers to maintain,” and you want to be able to make changes to your workflows yourself.

Within the 5 Stages of Going Paperless, business process automation is a stage with one of the biggest returns and the most diverse and expansive range of benefits. With so many solution options and ways to implement them, automation provides tons of new opportunities to drive efficiency at your organization. For more information on business process automation and the 5 Stages of Going Paperless, register for our webinar below!

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Software Integration: The 3rd Step to a Paperless Office

  
  
  

Software Integration: The 3rd Step to a Paperless Office

puzzle piecesSince the dawn of ages, man has searched for ways to accomplish more with less work. Sometimes this results in crazy solutions, but then we find something that works. Technology washes our dishes and cleans our laundry for us, and we can order anything we can dream online, without ever leaving our living room. There’s all kinds of possibilities!

However, when it comes to work life, there’s often still a few gaps in efficiency. If you’re using five applications to complete one task, or you’ve got different sets of data that should be the same, it might be time to research the basics of application integration. There’s many reasons why integrating your solution with other applications could be your next step towards a paperless office:

1.       Stop having to switch between tons of apps

Having tons of windows open all the time is not only confusing, but frustrating and time consuming. One simple task can quickly turn into a complicated project if every step needs to be completed inside a different application. If these kinds of tasks are something you do on a daily basis, an integration may be able to save you a lot of time and allow you to be more productive elsewhere.

2.       Ease the learning curve of new software

An integration will allow employees utilize features of your new solution from applications they’re already familiar with. This will lessen or eliminate any dips in productivity while they’re adjusting and lower the associated stress for new users.

3.       Decrease time spent on manual data entry

According to a study by The Data Warehousing Institute, 75% of data quality problems stem from manual data entry errors, and having to enter data into multiple systems only increases that likelihood. Not only will employees be able to spend more time on higher value tasks, your data will likely be more accurate as it will automatically be copied exactly to other integrated applications.

4.      Leverage your previous investments

Although your current applications alone might not cover all the holes in your business processes, it makes sense to use what you already have if it’s still relevant and useful. Integrating your new solution with those applications allows you to harness the power of software you already use, while filling in the gaps with your newer solution.

There’s a lot of good reasons to integrate your business process solution with other business applications, but it’s important to talk to your solutions provider about what these projects will involve. The last thing your organizations needs is an integration gone wrong, with large amounts of complicated coding leading to costly maintenance and more work than it’s worth.

Instead, some solutions providers offer enterprise application integration solutions that can be quickly set up without the use of coding. That way, if your requirements change or you need to make some sort of adjustment, you can do it yourself much more easily. That’s not to say you’re needs will definitely never require coding. In some cases, it’s inevitable, but if it’s not necessary, it’s better to avoid it.

Integrations with other applications can make a big difference in productivity and the quality of your data, and in many cases, their set-up can be pretty painless.

Interested in transitioning to a paperless office? Register for our upcoming Webinar below – The 5 Stages of Going Paperless. 

5StagesWebinarButton

Information Indexing: The 2nd Step to a Paperless Office

  
  
  

Information Indexing: The 2nd Step to a Paperless Office

Content management solutionsIt’s Halloween! What are you afraid of? Global warming? Your mom? Getting toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe? What about losing crucial company documents? Even on Halloween, there’s not much scarier than not being able to find something important when you need it.

Information is worthless if you can’t get to it. Even if you deal mainly with electronic documents, if they’re not well organized, they’ll still present navigational issues. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, employees spend up to 50% of their days looking for information, but only 5-15% reading it. Sometimes this is due to a filing system that only one or a few people know how to navigate, creating a bottleneck in business processes, or too many content repositories and information silos that keep needed information inaccessible to other staff members.

Regardless of the cause, the inability to find things when you need it can pose serious problems, especially if your position requires quick decision making or customer service, and all that staff time spent adds up to a lot of wasted money as well. Inefficient business processes aren’t just slow – they’re expensive, too.  Even after converting paper documents to electronic form, there’s still many more improvements that can be made. In order to reap the full benefits of digitizing your documents, you’ll need an efficient and effective way to store and manage them.

Content management solutions are often a great way to go about making your information easily retrievable so employees can turn all the time spent on searching into something productive. Once documents are scanned into your system, they’ll be captured by your solution and automatically indexed. Employees will be able to search for what they need by keyword and stay organized without allocating a ton of time to sorting things.

If your organization already has too many content management solutions, than enterprise content management (ECM) may be a great way to break down those silos and open up communication and collaboration between departments. ECM is also very scalable and capable of much more than just managing information, so if, in the future, you want to even further improve business processes, you can do it with the same solution.

Locating information you need shouldn’t take up a substantial portion of your day, distract you from other projects you’re working on, or create bottlenecks in otherwise smooth-running processes. If you’re content organization is creating unnecessary difficulties, it might be time to look into another way to store it. For more information on how a business process solution can solve your organization’s business process problems, download our infographic below.

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless

Back File Scanning: The 1st Step to a Paperless Office

  
  
  

Back File Scanning: The 1st Step to a Paperless Office


Back file scanningMaybe your office building is more like a maze with walls made of filing cabinets.  Maybe you can’t remember what color your desk actually is after it’s been covered in documents for so long. Or maybe you’ve got a warehouse haunted with the memories of files that have been lost for years, with enough spider webs to get anyone into the Halloween spirit (and out of the building). Whatever the situation, if you’ve got dreams of a paperless office, scanning all your back files and storing them electronically instead is the first step.

There’s plenty of reasons to use a document scanning service – lowering expenses, increasing productivity, freeing up storage space – but one of the biggest threats is security. If something should happen to the building in which your files are stored, like a fire or a natural disaster, all that information might be lost forever.

When asked about plans for the recovery of paper documents in case of a disaster, 55 % of respondents to a Fujitsu survey said they had none, and 65% said they’d be in moderate to severe trouble if those files were lost. In addition, given that only 21% of respondents said they were storing critical information electronically, there’s a lot of organizations out there who are at risk for a catastrophic loss of information.

Two other big reasons to scan and store documents are time and money.  Paper processes are inherently more expensive just from the cost of paper, shipping, and storage, but add to that the large amount of employee time spent processing and distributing paper documents, and those costs shoot up.  On the flipside, when those documents can be handled faster with electronic methods, that time can be spent on more important tasks and increase overall productivity.

Also improving productivity is employees’ ability to work remotely, for example, while on a business trip or in the field. It’s much easier to access information on your phone or laptop that has been emailed to you than it is to carry around and shuffle through a pile of papers you’ve been given.

Storage is often another issue. According to Fujitsu, 49% of documents need to be retained for 3 years or more, and as organizations continue to produce more and more paper files, the need for adequate storage can be a problem. A third of organizations even use off-site storage, requiring them to pay rent just to house their information.

As technological capabilities improve, it’s becoming more and more detrimental to businesses to maintain paper files and manual paper processes. In order to remain competitive in a digital world, organizations need adapt their operations to reap the benefits of a paperless office that their competitors may already be experiencing. To learn more about how document scanning services can start you down the path to a paperless office, download our infographic below.

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless  

5 Key Steps to a Successful Software Solution Upgrade

  
  
  

5 Key Steps to a Successful Software Solution Upgrade

software solution upgradeWindows 95 was great… in its time. There was Paint and Internet Explorer and 32-bit applications – it was a magical world! Today, if we found someone playing Doom on Windows 95 with a monitor the size of a microwave oven, we might suspect some strange sci-fi plot involving a time vortex or a DeLorean. We might say, “Don’t you think it’s time for an upgrade?”.  And if they responded with “Nah, I know how to use this already,” we might consider an intervention.

Comfort and familiarity is no reason to miss out on the technology opportunities of today. Software solution upgrades take planning, effort, and the acceptance of a little risk, but they can be rewarding as well, with the promise of new features and more ways to improve business processes.  Here’s a few steps to help you get through your next upgrade unscathed.

1.   Make assessments

Talk to your end users and figure out what your needs are, both from an IT standpoint and a business process standpoint. Note what changes will need to be made, who will be involved, and how it will affect your staff, then plan accordingly. From here you can start to build out a timeline.

2.   Consider your options

You can upgrade in steps or all at once, but upgrading your software solution incrementally carries much less risk and allows users to learn and adjust more easily. Strategize about what needs to be upgraded first and remember to consider third party integrations as well. Make sure your other software will still be compatible with software solution once it’s updated, or even upgrade them at all together.

3.   Practice effective communication

Good communication is key in any organizational change, and in this case, it’s important to keep both your solutions provider and your stakeholders in the loop. Working with your provider will allow them to offer valuable insights into your software and make suggestions based on what they’ve seen work in the past, and you’ll be able to offer information about your business processes to them. 

Internally, keeping staff informed of what will happen and why will help to unite employees and create an air of excitement instead of trepidation.

4.   Upgrade during a slow time

This is for obvious reasons – in case difficulties arise, it’s better to deal with them when you have more time and your organization’s quality of services will be less affected. It’s also less stressful for employees to adjust when there’s less pressure on them.

5.   Test!

Create a testing environment where you can try out your new solution upgrade, risk-free. This allows you to work out any kinks and see firsthand the effects your upgrade will have on your organization without actually affecting your operations.

 Upgrading might sound like a hassle, but done correctly, it should go quite smoothly and provide new opportunities to streamline operations. We hope these tips will make the process easier for you! If you’d like information on how DataBank has helped other organizations in the past, view our complete list of case studies below.

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4 Ways to Prepare for Storage in the Cloud

  
  
  

Cloudy with a Chance of Productivity: Preparing for Storage in the Cloud

storage in the cloudFifteen years ago, if asked what a cloud was, one might answer “tiny droplets of water that form around dust particles in the air” or “the white things in the sky”, depending on how well they did in 5th grade science. Just five years ago, their answer might be “You mean the ones in the sky? Or I think that’s something that has to do with computers? I’m not sure.” Now, cloud computing is becoming an everyday household term and one of the hottest topics in IT.

In the midst of all this buzz, many organizations are considering the pros and cons of moving their content to the cloud and weighing their options. If you’ve decided cloud storage might be right for you, make sure to consider these four things as you progress towards searching for a provider.

 

1.   Security

“Is the cloud secure?” This is one of the biggest concerns among those with the cloud on their mind. Moving your data into the cloud means storing your information on someone else’s server, out of your control, and that sounds scary. Even though moving to the cloud actually boosts security in many cases, (as most breaches are a result of an internal mistake or lapse in judgment), you should still do your research. Some good questions to ask are: 

Does the provider have sufficient backups in place?
Are they firewall protected?
How often are they audited?
What sort of physical security measures are utilized at their facilities?

2.   Which documents go to the cloud

Decide which department would be most suited to pilot your move to the cloud, and then pick which documents need to go first. If you’re choosing a provider that charges according to the amount of space being used, be prudent in choosing what actually needs to be in the cloud and what doesn’t. Also consider the security and compliance requirements of the files in question, and choose a provider who knows about and understands them.

3.   Service Level Agreements

Make sure you understand what is outlined in the contract, which should include information on the availability, security, and ownership of your data, and state your ability to switch cloud providers as you see fit. Wired.com has a good article on things to look for in your SLA. 

4.   Provider Flexibility

If your organization is smaller, most providers will probably be able to meet your information storage needs, but as your organization grows, you’ll need to make sure your cloud provider has the resources to handle your changing requirements. If you choose a provider that can’t handle your growth, you may have to move your data all over again, this time to a different cloud.

Moving to the cloud is an exciting and rewarding step for many organizations, but it’s something you’ll want to do right the first time.  By staying informed and choosing the right provider, you’ll already be heading in the right direction. For information on trends in Enterprise Content Management in the cloud, download our infographic below. 

Infographic ECM in the Cloud Button

How Organizations Can Improve Outside Relationships with Business Process Solutions

  
  
  

How Organizations Can Improve Outside Relationships with Business Process Solutions

customer relationsWhat do the following sentences have in common?

1.   “I wish I had been put on hold a little longer.”

2.   “It’s too bad I got paid for my services on time.”

If you guessed “They’re both things that have never, ever been said in the history of humanity,” you would (probably) be correct. Waiting is no one’s favorite pastime, and chances are you’re going to try to avoid it the best you can.  On that note, it’s also probably safe to say that slow business processes are never going to draw people to your organization, and they may even drive them away. Because of that, you could miss out on a lot of business opportunities.

Customer Relations

While the modern world is becoming more and more tightly networked through social media, customer testimonials and reviews are growing in importance. To prospects, your services might look the same as your competitors, but it’s the recommendations of other people that could potentially set you apart.

When customer service is a game changer and your business is on the line, casting it by the wayside can have substantial consequences. Many people picture customer service as smiles and friendly greetings, but employee disposition isn’t the only thing that counts. If your business processes are slow and outdated, that can be just as frustrating to customers as a grouchy employee. By streamlining those processes, employees can access information easier and faster to more quickly and accurately answer customer queries, and by providing online forms and portals, relations with your organization become more convenient and hassle-free. When you make yourself pleasant to do business with, people will come back and maybe even bring their friends.

Vendor Relations

Customer relations aren’t the only important relationships at stake when it comes to the efficiency of your business processes. Vendor management is another example, and it, too, can affect your bottom line. Accounts payable departments are often riddled with paper-intensive manual processes that create bottlenecks and slow down productivity, resulting in late fees and frustrated vendors.

Vendors appreciate customers who are diligent with their responsibilities just like customers want and even expect the same from businesses they’re purchasing from. Optimizing and automating accounts payable processes does more than save time and reduce the costs of paper processes – it also allows your organization to take advantage of early payment discounts and build positive vendor relationships with consistently on-time payments. Vendors will want to keep you as a customer and may even cut you a deal to do so.

Solutions like content management and business process automation bring a lot of organizational benefits, not the least of which is improved customer and vendor relationships. By eliminating efficiencies in your processes, you are not only saving money and increasing productivity, you are drawing more repeat customers and capitalizing on vendor discount opportunities. 

 To learn more about how you can improve operations and reap the benefits of a business process solution, check out our infographic below.

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless

5 Sustainability Tips for the Office to Cut Costs while Conserving

  
  
  

5 Sustainability Tips for the Office to Cut Costs while Conserving

sustainability tips for the officeThere’s some pretty cool stuff floating around out there in that giant space vacuum in which Earth currently resides (as it always has). For example, one planet named upsilon Andromedae B has one side that always faces the sun, resulting in massive temperature differences. The sunny side is around 2700 degrees Fahrenheit, and the other side is a balmy -148 degrees. If that doesn’t sound uncomfortable, there’s also planet HD 189773b – which rolls right off the tongue – where it rains sideways at 4,000 mph. Oh, and that rain is made of glass.

As you and most other people probably know, there’s not a whole lot of other options for viable living spaces if Earth was no longer in the picture, so I prefer it to stick around for a while. Here’s a few sustainability tips for the office so we can all help make sure that happens.

1.       Think about lighting

There’s a lot of ways to save both energy and money by being strategic about the use of lighting throughout your office building. One of the most substantial is considering the type of light bulbs being used.  CFLs use over 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last about 7 times as long, and LEDs use about 90% less energy and last over 40 times as long. Also try to take advantage of any natural lighting and install light timers and motion sensors in rooms that aren’t used on a constant basis.

2.       Recycle everything you can

Set up recycle bins around the office to reduce the amount of waste that will end up in a landfill. Recycling scrap paper is a great place to start, but there’s a lot of other things laying around the office that can be recycled too, like magazines, food containers, bottles and cans, and even electronic waste like printer cartridges and batteries.

3.       Turn things off

Set your computer monitor to turn off after 10 minutes of inactivity, instead of going to a screen saver. Turn off lights when no one is in the room. Unplug appliances that are not being used. Although these are great policies to keep in mind all day, they’re especially important when everyone leaves for the night. Turning off computers at night and using every saving settings during the day saves $250 per computer, per year. Also remember to turn off copiers, printers, and any other office electronics that don’t need to be on overnight.

4.       Watch your air conditioner and heat usage

Heat and air conditioner are responsible for a big portion of the energy used in office buildings.  To save electricity, try to adjust your thermostat according to the temperature outside. Harvard University suggests 74-78 degrees in the summer, and 68-72 degrees in the winter, but even adjusting the thermostat a couple degrees can make a difference.  You can adjust the thermostat even further over the weekend when no one is present.

5.        Reduce the use of paper

Ways to cut down on paper range from tweaking every day operations to implementing streamlined, electronic business processes. You can start using less paper right now by making sure you print on both sides of each sheet and creating a scrap paper pile next to the printer so employees can reuse otherwise wasted paper. For a more drastic approach with bigger returns, look into converting paper back files into electronic formats and switching from manual to automated processes. In addition to the conservation of natural resources and the self-satisfaction of knowing you’re saving innocent trees, this brings a variety of other benefits to your organization, from reduced costs to faster business processes to reduced storage space to higher productivity.

Office sustainability is a win-win: you save money, and you save the earth. By combining tactics as simple as these, you can make a difference in the toll business operations take on the environment. For more information on how DataBank can help your organization to cut costs and streamline processes by going paperless, contact us or check out our infographic below. 

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless
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