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And the Survey Said…

11 Jun, 2008 By: John Mancini imageSource

And the Survey Said…

And the Survey Said…. 

As many of you know, AIIM conducts a variety of industry trend and
benchmarking surveys (see website for free downloads of many surveys for
imageSource readers).  The topics of the surveys range from capture to business
process management, to content security to document management, and just about
everything in between.  The basic goal of these surveys is to quantify the user
experience with document, records, and content management technologies. 

7 Rules for Successful Solutions

We often ask similar questions in multiple surveys in order to get
comparative data.  In preparing for a recent presentation, I ran across a
similar question in three different surveys.  I think the disparate answers to
this question provide clues as to what it will take for copier dealers and
distributors to succeed in the world of document management solution selling.

Here’s the question:  “Please evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of your
organization’s spending on X [more on the ‘X’ in a minute] compared with other
significant IT investments.”

Now here’s where some slight variations on the question enter the equation:

Survey 1:  X = “distributed scanning and capture”

Survey 2:  X = “scanning and capture”

Survey 3:  X = “document, records, and content management”

As Richard Dawson used to say on the Family Feud television show – “And the
survey SAID…”

As copier dealers and distributors work to move “upstream” and sell document
solutions that are more encompassing than just hardware and consumables, the 28%
with a negative assessment of their content, document, and records
implementations is just plain troubling.  And I think worth a pause to reflect
on the causes of this disconnect and what the copier channel might do to
mitigate this frustration.

We know from other surveys that the obstacles end users encounter rarely
involve the actual technology, and often fall into five major buckets:

Five Main Obstacles

1. Poor initial identification of business requirements (i.e., “what are
we trying to accomplish?”)

When we talk to end users about what went wrong with their records and
documents projects, the lessons learned are clear:  time and resources spent at
the front end of a project pay huge multiples on the back-end.  The steps are
simpler than they sound – and are really fundamental to any well-thought out
project – but nonetheless worth re-stating.   Spend the time to think through
the business requirements for your project.  Understand the desired technology
end-state to deliver on these requirements.  Map the gaps from where you are now
to where you want to be.  And most importantly, translate those gaps into
manageable projects with clear deliverables and accountability.

2. Lack of attention to the governance structure (i.e., “who is calling
the shots?”)

3. Lack of vendor neutral education and training in the early stages of a
project (i.e., “what can we learn from those who have gone before us?”)

4. Lack of top management commitment (i.e., “who is going to make sure
things happen?”)

Issues #2, #3 and #4 are clearly reflected in answer to the question,
“Please identify the TOP 3 obstacles to your document or records management
implement.” Under-estimating the process and organizational issues associated
with an implementation and failing to anticipate the internal politics
(associated with that implementation) are clearly tied to lack of a well-defined
governance structure. Selling a document system is different than selling a
copier.  It is not enough to engage the office manager in the discussions and
leave it to him/her to sell it to everyone else. Effective document solutions
are by their very definition disruptive of existing processes – and that means
change management issues must be addressed on the front end of an
implementation.  It also means that training is critical.  Given the abundance
of jargon and marketing speak, and poorly understood terms in the document
management system, it is critical that end users get a common frame of reference
for their efforts through a structured and consistent training program for the
team of executives who will be involved in an implementation.

5. Overly complex solutions (i.e., “why is this so hard?”)

One of the areas in which the copier channel can make a huge contribution to
the document management industry is through driving simplicity down to the
individual end user level.  The industry is quickly changing from one that has
been defined within an end user organization by capture and document
“specialists” – a limited number of staff whose primary job relates to the
management of documents – to one that will be defined by the millions of ad hoc
“document managers” for whom “document management” is just part of their broader
responsibilities.  Capture devices, for example, need to be just as simple to
operate as a copier machine.  That’s good news for copier dealers.  A bit more
challenging piece of news for copier dealers is that our surveys indicate that
it is not the scanning experience itself that causes challenges for end users –
it is all the things that surround “the scan.”  How you do indexing.  How you do
quality control.  How you extract and validate data from the image.  Copier
dealers that are successful in helping their customers address these challenges
– not just creating a simpler scanning experience – will have a huge step up on
their competitors.

The Ground Rules

Let me offer these 7 ground rules for success for the copier channel in this
new world of document solutions.  And by “success,” I don’t just mean financial
success for the document solutions provider. I mean business success for the
customer, translating into a long and lucrative revenue trail for years into the

Rule#1:   Get smart. Not just you, but anybody facing the customer.
Again, selling document, content and records management solutions is different
from selling copiers.  You need to have a firm grounding in the core elements of
these technologies and how they fit together, and there is no better way to
achieve this than through a good training program. Training programs (either for
end users or providers) should be organized around specific disciplines. Within
AIIM’s designated programs, each discipline consists of three levels of
achievement – Practitioner, Specialist, and Master
It is a vendor-neutral certification that proves expertise in the technologies
and best practices used to plan, design, and specify a document imaging
management system.  The content is deliverable in three ways – online, in public
courses, and in private courses.  To compliment AIIM certifications, the CompTIA
CDIA+ certification for solution providers’ sales and IT people will help to
validate the knowledge of professionals who deliver document imaging solutions (www.comptia.org).

The most relevant content for copier organizations looking to bridge into the
document solutions business is in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and
Electronic Records Management (ERM) tracks. 

Rule#2:   Once you’re smart, flaunt it.  Successful dealers are
showcasing the number of AIIM ECM and ERM Practitioners on their staff.  This is
rapidly becoming THE badge of competency with the end user community.

Rule#3:   Keep things as simple as possible, but no more so. Most end
users starting down the path of getting their documents under control are not
looking for grandiose “enterprise content management” solutions.  They are
looking for something better than stacks of paper and incomprehensible file
structures on shared drives.  Pick software partners that give them what they

This isn’t as easy as it seems.  I can give you countless examples of end
user organizations that have bought complete suites of ECM software products,
only to have the software sit on a shelf because it was too hard for a mid-sized
organization to implement and required too many scarce IT resources.

Rule#4: Focus on core processes. Most potential RM, CM, and DM
customers could not care a fig about technology.  To use Geoffrey Moore’s terms
(Crossing the Chasm), these folks are pragmatic buyers, not technology buyers. 
You need to link with hardware and software partners with solutions that allow
customers to seamlessly link scanning on a multi-function device with core
applications.  Scanning to a folder and scanning to e-mail is nice and better
than nothing.  But the real action is combining the ease of use of a copier with
core process integration.

Rule #5:   Specialize. In something.  This is perhaps the hardest
discipline for those who have been successful in the generic office automation
business. The document solutions business is not a generic business.  To be a
credible business partner (and claim the higher returns that result) you need to
know a customer’s business as well as they do.  And that ain’t easy.

Rule#6:   Make sure you have an answer to the SharePoint question. As
copier dealers move from selling hardware and consumables to selling document
solutions, they will inevitably come into contact with those pesky IT types.  In
the current environment, in order to be credible in your recommendation for a
document management solution, dealers need to have a SharePoint story. 
One-third of end users with document and records experience already have
SharePoint implementations.  Another 20% are planning for over the next 12-18
months. This doesn’t mean I am recommending SharePoint or that you should do
so.  (It also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t!)  It means that the game has
changed and organizations need to leverage various technologies to meet business
continuity. SharePoint is the elephant in the room when it comes to document
management, and IT types will want to know whether or not and why your
recommended solution includes SharePoint.

Rule #7:   Remember why Jesse James robbed banks.  Jesse James robbed
banks because “that’s where the money was.” I am constantly amazed at the
disconnect between the document channel markets themselves and where end users
are looking for information on document solutions.  When it comes to marketing
advice, mine is simple.  Focus on where the users are looking. Get your Web
strategy in order.  Your own website.  Your search engine optimization
strategy.  Your strategy to leverage traffic on industry websites, including
AIIM’s (close to 1 million Web visitors per year).  Think outside the box.

Of course, get the help you need to build your document solutions business.
AIIM, for instance, has three business units: 1) Market Intelligence, focused on
quantifying the end user experience; 2) Market Access, focused on connecting
prospects with providers; and 3) Professional Development. All are specifically
focused on raising the competency bar within the industry. 

Finally, the survey says, “It’s a great time to be in the document solutions

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