You've decided that your company will move into the digital age and implement document management software.
How will my employees adjust? How long will it take? Where do I start? All of these questions must be answered so that you can successfully change and improve your business processes. Here is a 50,000 foot view of the five crucial steps to a successful implementation of document management.
This isn't a project plan for implementing document management.
However, EVERY successful implementation takes these five steps.
Manufacturing companies can especially benefit from document management and process improvement implementations. However, whether you're a manufacturing company looking to improve document processes, an insurance company who wants to digitize claims, or ANY company striving to improve their accounts payable processing; take these five steps and you'll find yourself walking towards a more productive business.
Pick a Starting Point
When an organization decides to go digital, it MUST have a specific goal.
When it comes to the paper documents: do we start from day-forward (scan documents from the day the new system is implemented) or attempt backfile conversion (digitize all – or at least most – archived paper records)?
Then there's the decision of what business process or department to digitize first. Often a decision that involves this much cultural change will include every department. They meet and brainstorm what they want:
- AP wants invoice matching
- Warehouse wants packing lists archives
- Sales wants their contracts all text searchable
The list goes on and on. These are all valid concerns and can (and eventually should) be tackled by a document management system, but to do them all at the same time is a recipe for disaster. You must deliberate on one specific starting point. Choose the one department or task that may be impacted most by the impending change. Plan from there to expand your system to other departments and needs individually. As you expand your DM implementation, consider each department as its own project.
As the saying goes, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Establishing and sticking with priorities for DM rollout is critical to success.
Choose Your Champions
Once a direction has been determined, don't make changes to that department from the top down. People don't like to be told to change or that they must change. Empower your people and make them a part of this change. Allow for them, the user that lives through this process 40 hours per week, to make recommendations for changes to the process and how the new technology can work best. They will know the problems better than anybody. Your champions will embrace this change and strive for it's success. Now that this project has become their baby, it is no longer just a project dropped on them by management. It is a tool for them to make their job, and others' jobs, easier.
Know Your Timeline . . . And If You Don't Have One, SET ONE!
Your team has worked with your vendor and determined the best approach. The index values and folder structures have been planned and your workflow has been drawn out into a pretty little flow chart. Now, when does the plan become reality?!
Too often DM projects drag out in this phase. Establish clear responsibilities between your software provider and your internal project team. Once responsibilities are established – set deadlines. I've seen projects drag on too long as timelines aren't established and original goals are forgotten as knowledge can be lost in personnel changes and people begin to ask, "How were we going to do that again?"
One common method is to draw a line in the sand and work backwards from there.
You've set the expectations for staff and vendors, gone through your testing period ,and are ready to roll this thing out to the rest of the team. DM implementations that aren't used are failures. You need to get all of your users on the same page. Identify the various "how to's" and "what if's" for common issues.
Then train your users. Schedule a user training session with your vendor to go over the specific duties for the new users. Allow for questions and concerns to be answered and options going forward. Also, power users (your champions mostly) could need administrative training. They may be responsible for updating or tweaking the system as well as training new employees.
Good training and champions contribute to a snowball effect – rolling through the organization and delivering the return on investment you expect.
Continually Monitor Your Usage and Ways to Improve
You've successfully implemented and rolled-out your first wave of DM. You're just getting started! Don't stop here. Decide on regular review periods and continually find other departments that are in need of help with their documents – revisit your original brainstorming list and prioritize the next process or department for digitization.
Whether you need to improve/streamline a business process or more easily find information, you've got many of the tools already to bring productivity to other departments of your business. Take advantage of the investment you've made and capitalize with a rinse and repeat methodology as needed. Determine where and how to use it, and execute.
What Are You Waiting For?
Throwing technology at a business problem never works. But when you take the time to understand your business needs, include users affected by the new technology in the planning, and prioritize and plan your rollout software tools like document management can deliver tremendous value.
If you're not satisfied with your current business process, check out our free resource below to learn more about what Managed IT can do for your business.