Connect With Us!

Subscribe by Email

Your email:

Browse by Tag

Enterprise Content Management | Document Scanning Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

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!

describe the image

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. 

describe the image

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!

Button   HR Eguide

Microfilm and Microfiche Scanning: An Open Letter to Microform Users

  
  
  

Microfilm and Microfiche Scanning: An Open Letter to Microform Users

Microfilm and microfiche scanning

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

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!

describe the image

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

All Posts