Today, let's take a step back and talk a little bit about strategy.
There are four elements in a capture strategy:
Change is scary for many people – even if it will make their lives easier. You need to understand that and assess how ready your business is to change so that you can prepare everyone. As you plan moving from a paper-based processed to an automated document management solution, here are five questions to ask about your company:
Capture will affect processes. Are employees ready for this change?
Have you explained the reason for the changes to the business process?
What kind of training will be needed to ensure that documents captured correctly and the new system will be used effectively?
How will employees be affected by the changes – personally and professionally? Will they have more time to accomplish other tasks? Will there be new opportunities for advancement?
What kind of resistance do you expect? How will you address it?
What information and documents does your business create and then store? An information audit will reveal what information you have, why it exists, and what business value it has for the company (or if it even has business value). Often, businesses create and manage information and documents that they don't actually need or need to keep. Identify your documents:
Are your documents born digital (email, PDF contracts, etc.), paper, or other physical media?
What are these documents – contracts, invoices, data sheets, intellectual property, etc.?
Does the document need to be on paper? If so, why?
Where does the document originate?
What is the business value of the document?
First off, don't automate a bad business process. Before simply automating an existing process, see if you can improve it. Automating a bad business process can make the problem worse. Look for redundant steps – can you break steps into parallel processes to speed the process? Where are the bottlenecks? Ask yourself these four questions (at least):
What processes are associated with a document? Who needs to approve documents?
How does information enter and exit the process?
When can the information be captured in the process – beginning, middle, end?
Will automating one process affect related/adjacent processes?
Before making any technology decision, assess your needs and requirements. Remember that technology is simply a tool, not the answer to your business challenges by itself. When it comes to digitizing paper, think about these questions:
What hardware will you need to capture documents – scanners, digital copiers, or even mobile devices?
Who will capture the documents?
Where will the documents be capture? In a centralized location? By employees on the go? As needed?
Will you use recognition software to index documents? What lines-of-business software will the the documents and workflow need to be integrated into?
Digitizing documents is a simple process on the surface – take a piece of paper, run it through a scanner, have software index it for future retrieval, and place it in your document repository. For many implementations, it can be that straightforward. However, even in the simplest implementations, take the time to answer these questions around people, information, process, and technology. You could discover opportunities for cost savings and productivity improvements you never would have found otherwise.