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How to Achieve Stress-Free School Records Management

  
  
  

How to Achieve Stress-Free School Records Management

document scanning and conversionThe process for requesting school records seems to be labor intensive from both sides. Many schools require requests to be made by mail or fax, both of which sound archaic compared to the fast-moving online world we’re all now used to.

Although students and graduates feel inconvenienced by this, they’re not the only ones who are. Records management is surprisingly manual at many schools, and often the process is just as complicated for the people that receive school records requests. In a lot of cases, responding requires staff to spend time searching through paper documents or microfilm to find the correct student file, then prepare the response and mail it. If it involves microfilm, more steps are added for scanning and printing.  In an age where everything is digital, the process is conspicuously lacking technology.

A lot of this delay can be solved by scanning those records and storing them electronically. Not only does it take up less space, but employees can run searches for the requested records straight from their computer, accomplishing in seconds what would otherwise take a significant amount of time. Within minutes, student records can be located, printed, and be ready to mail out. Without the need to perform the extra work, staff can allocate their extra time to more weighty tasks, and as student records requests increase, efficiency will grow in importance.

Records management software takes this efficiency a step further by indexing records, making them keyword searchable and automating actions necessary for retention requirements. It combines organization and ease of use with process automation to take the strain off time consuming tasks and smooth out multiple departmental processes.

School records management shouldn’t be a burden on records managers or past and current students.  There are many ways to simplify and speed up records request processes, and making those records electronic is just the first step to improving operations. If you think your department could benefit from scanning or records management software, click below to contact us for more information about what we can do to help.

Document scanning and conversion

How to Increase Business Productivity and Boost Operations

  
  
  

How to Increase Business Productivity and Boost Operations

Increase Business ProductivityI’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that time goes by faster and faster every year. Whether we're all just victims of ever-growing to-do lists or if there’s been some sort of flux in the space-time continuum that actually causes time to gradually speed up, one thing is for sure – that I will always use the latter as an excuse if I miss a deadline. Also for sure is that no one ever seems to have enough time to do everything they need to.

Since creating more time requires time wizards (which are hard to come by and arguably do not exist), we’re left with the option of figuring out how to do more with the amount that we’ve got.  Below are some ways to keep your operations flowing at a steady pace and increase business productivity.

1.   Put information at employees’ fingertips

Productivity is often lost when employees have to spend too much time searching for information or they have to rely on someone else to find it for them - for example, when documents are shut in old filing cabinets or stored in a foldering system only one person understands.  Instead, eliminate information silos by making information available to your employees from one (electronic) central location accessible from anywhere. If that information is easy to find and navigate, employees won’t have to lose their momentum to begin the project of locating what they need.

2.   Encourage employee collaboration and communication

There’s lots of ways to promote collaboration through the use of technology or company culture.  One way is holding team building exercises and office luncheons, as employees who are happier and more comfortable around each other are more likely to work together.  Another option is providing software that makes communication and the sharing of information easier, such as an employee portal, instant messaging system, or project management tools.

3.   Take advantage of measuring and reporting tools

It’s hard to tell what’s working and where you can make improvements if you’re not analyzing your business processes. Reporting tools make spotting and eliminating bottlenecks in your processes easier and help shed light on where to allocate resources or how projects need to be prioritized.

If time is too tight of a resource at work, it may be a good idea to check out some alternate ways like the ones above to maintain and even increase business productivity. There’s tons of ways to keep your processes moving, whether that be from business process automation, improved information management, or just boosting employee morale. To learn more about how business process solutions can not only boost productivity, but also cut costs and provide a wide range of other benefits, check out our infographic below – The 5 Stages of Going Paperless.

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless

What the New York Warehouse Fire Teaches Us about Information Risk Management

  
  
  

What the New York Warehouse Fire Teaches Us about Information Risk Management

New York Warehouse FireJust four days ago, the New York fire department was finally able to put an end to the fire that ravaged a Brooklyn warehouse full of city records, which burned for almost a week and brought on tremendous consequences. Hundreds of thousands of boxes of records were damaged, resulting in a significant loss to organizations such as the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the Administration for Children’s Services, and the health department.

In addition to the loss of information, the fire caused a loss of privacy for some as well, as sensitive documents from those boxes could be found blowing around outside throughout the week. While some New York residents are concerned about the possibility of identity theft, others, like Manhattan attorney Robert Vilensky, are dealing with lost documents they personally stored in the warehouse. Vilensky is the first to bring the city to court over the incident and is suing for $20 million.

However dire the situation may seem, there is a ray of hope from the Health and Hospitals Corporation, who took one of the biggest hits with 143,000 boxes of damaged records. A spokesman for the H.H.C. informed the New York Times that, “Fortunately, as an early adopter of electronic medical record systems, H.H.C. keeps vital patient records in electronic form, and we do not anticipate this will affect our patient care operations.”

The New York warehouse fire illustrates perfectly the importance of information risk management and should make us wonder, “What is the liability if the unthinkable occurs and the records we have entrusted to a third party are destroyed? And is there an approach that provides the organizational benefits of offsite storage without the risk and liability?” The answer is yes, by following the example of the H.H.C and managing our information electronically. It will always be cheaper to convert paper to digital documents than to recover from a disastrous loss of information such as this, especially after taking into account the legal ramifications and the loss of public trust.

There are many measures that can be put in place to guard or restore your data and ensure business continuity in the case of a disaster, but it’s difficult to keep paper completely safe from the elements. When records are stored in their physical form, there is no backup file to restore from and no data encryption to protect sensitive information from prying eyes. 

In spite of this, 55% of respondents to a Fujitsu report admitted they have no plans in place for the recovery of their paper files in case of a disaster, and 65% answered they would have moderate to severe trouble restoring their lost information. Keeping only one physical copy of one of your business’s most important assets is not only inefficient and expensive, but risky. It should be a risk you’re not willing to take. That loss of trust is hard to overcome.

If the recent disaster of an offsite facility has raised questions about information risk management within your organization, or if you’re just ready for a more efficient, safer way to manage your organization’s important information, contact DataBank to learn more about our conversion services.

Did you know digitizing your paper files is just the first step to eliminating the paper from your processes? Check out our infographic below – The 5 Stages of Going Paperless – to learn what you can do to improve your operations!

Download Infographic:5 Stages of Going Paperless

4 Best Practices You Should Know for Your Disaster Recovery Planning Process

  
  
  

4 Best Practices You Should Know for Your Disaster Recovery Planning Process

359203.fullLife is full of moments we just can’t prepare for.  Many times it’s little things like spilling a drink on your boss’s lap or forgetting to hit the save button right before your computer crashes. Those moments are hardly pleasant, but we’re incredibly lucky if those are the only kinds of “disasters” we encounter.

We’re not  the only ones with exposure to unfortunate happenings; our business information is, too.  The difference is that we can put plans in place to ensure the safety of some of our most important assets.  Building a disaster recovery plan is crucial for not only ensuring your business will keep thriving in the event of a catastrophe, but for keeping your data protected in general, as it forces you to review and test several aspects of the security of your information.  

Here are some tips to help you through the disaster recovery planning process so your organization can weather the storms – real or metaphorical. 

1.   Make sure there’s a back-up copy of all critical information and that it’s stored in a different location than the first copy.  That location should be either in the cloud or far enough away that the same event cannot destroy both copies, and the resources needed to access that data should be available in both places. Backups should occur at least once a week so stored data will always be up-to-date. 

2.   Ensure that the plan itself is accessible in the event of a disaster, and that the same, updated version has been distributed to everyone who needs it.  A plan, no matter how great it is, is useless if it’s missing or executed incorrectly.

3.   How do you know if your business continuity plan is good? An extremely important step to making sure your plan is successful is disaster recovery testing in real life. Not only will this work out any kinks or holes in your plan, but it’ll train your employees on actions that need to be taken so everyone is already familiar with their responsibilities if catastrophe should strike.

4.   Keep your disaster recovery plan updated with any changes in business processes that may affect it by reviewing it on a regular basis to ensure it’s still accurate.  

Planning for disaster can be easy or extremely difficult, depending on the state of your content. An enterprise content management (ECM) system can take you miles in simplifying your preparations by securely storing your information, providing copies of your data in off-site locations, and automatically keeping your document versions up-to-date to prevent the distribution of inconsistent plans. ECM is much more than a bit of shielding against disaster, though. To learn more about it, check out our free E-Guide below.

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The State of the Cloud - In Numbers

  
  
  

The State of the Cloud - In Numbers

cloud computingLet’s face it: We’re all susceptible to a little peer pressure. And why not? It’s only logical – if everyone’s doing something, there might be a good reason behind it. 

The same goes for our mindset when researching a product or way of business– we all want to know what everyone else is saying and doing.  The herd may not always be right, and of course we should always think critically, but sometimes there's interesting insights to be gained. Projected to be a $180 billion industry in 2015, cloud computing has been a hot topic for some time now. The vast majority of organizations are already using the cloud in some capacity – 94% according to a survey by RightScale.  We’ve poured over articles, infographics, and whitepapers to tell you what they’re saying:

On Security:

Security concerns are consistently reported as being the number one reason why organizations are hesitant to adopt the cloud; however, this number decreases heavily among those who are already cloud users. According to RightScale, only 13% of those experienced in cloud computing cite security as a concern. On the flip side, improved security is consistently one of the top reported benefits of moving to the cloud by those who’ve already done it.

On Benefits:

In addition to security, other benefits commonly reported are scalability (reported by around 60-70% of users across studies), reduced cost of IT infrastructure (reported by 75-80% of users), and easier management of IT (50-60% of users). A majority of organizations report seeing benefits within 6 months of deployment.

On Who’s and What’s:

Reportedly, small and medium size businesses have been more apt to jump on the cloud computing bandwagon earlier in industries such as tech, finance, and banking. Companies are using an average of four cloud services, the most common being, of course, web hosting and email, but in addition to that, many are using the cloud for storage or application development. 

On Future Plans:

Cloud adoption is only growing, and the industry is projected to be worth $235 billion by the end of 2017. According to a survey by GigaOm, IT’s 2015 cloud spending will go up this year by a whopping 42%, and 45% of business say they have plans to run their company from the cloud, if they don’t do so already. The popularity of the hybrid cloud is also growing rapidly, with 55% of respondents to the survey planning to use a hybrid cloud within the next two years.

If these numbers tell us anything, it’s that there’s no stopping cloud computing. It’s only growing and improving, and it’s becoming more integrated into the way we do business every day. One great way to leverage the cloud in your business processes is through enterprise content management (ECM), an end-to-end solution that allows you to store and access your content from anywhere. To learn more, check out our beginner’s guide to ECM below!

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Training at DataBank is a Vacation to Florida

  
  
  

OnBase Training at DataBank is a Vacation to Florida

WorkingonBeachMost of the Northern Hemisphere would agree that it’s been a bit chilly outside lately. So chilly and snowy, in fact, that Twitter has dubbed these couple of days the Snowpocalypse.  Although the Northeast is hunkering down in the midst of what may be record-breaking snowstorms, not everyone in the States has a whole lot to complain about – Florida is a case in point.

Even though Floridians might be cracking out the one jacket they own, the thermometer still only bottoms out around a balmy 40 degrees on the colder days, with highs in the 70’s.  Florida might have some of the warmest temperatures and bluest skies in the country, but do you know what else is in Florida? DataBank’s OnBase training courses.

DataBank's training courses are high quality, small classroom sessions, and there’s a lot of reasons to attend them besides a trip to Florida. (And if you’re not up for traveling, courses are available online, too…but we won’t make you tell your boss that.)

One obvious driver towards OnBase training is gaining deeper insights into the solution you’ve already installed, teaching you how to better use it to improve your business processes.  Not only will finding new ways to use your ECM allow you expand your ROI, it may even save you the trouble of trying to deploy a new solution to solve a problem that could have been fixed with what you already have.  Discovering new features and benefits of your product can only lead to better processes, lower costs, and higher productivity without putting in tons of more work.

As a certified OnBase administrator, you’ll also be able to provide internal support to your end users rather than having to rely on a provider for help. Knowledge is power, and the right training will allow you to manage your solution more independently, tweaking and maintaining your system as you please and as your processes change.

Our courses cover a wide range of topics, from general administration and day-to-day activities, to troubleshooting, to specific solution components such as OnBase Studio or Folders. We’ve got all kinds of courses coming up over February and March, so you can pick whatever interests you most.  To check out all the options, click to view our schedule below!

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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

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