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ECM Checklist for Success

15 Jul, 2009 By: Laurel Sanders imageSource

ECM Checklist for Success

The adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day” teaches us we have to work hard and
overcome many challenges if we want to dance on the stage of success.  It also
reminds us how difficult it is for even the greatest to stay on top.

Remarkable societies such as the Romans, Ottomans, Spanish, and British
didn’t emerge by chance.  Visionary leaders directed strong individuals, united
by a common purpose.  They had ample resources (or acquired them by force), were
educated, well informed, imaginative, and flexible.  Leaders ensured the people
had, created, or acquired the necessary tools to support established goals. 
Work was distributed among the people. Authorities empowered citizens to embrace
change rather than resist it.  Their efforts were rewarded by success,
stability, and resilience in the face of disaster.  Eventually, corrupt
leadership, excessive ambition, complacency, self-righteousness, natural and
economic disasters, or a lack of ability to access resources surfaced.  The
result: opposing goals, inflexibility, inability to survive difficult
circumstances, and eventual ruin.  

Many parallels exist between what causes civilizations and enterprise content
management (ECM) initiatives to succeed or fail.  As an advisor to your clients,
you need to understand the principles that lead to success and be aware of
mistakes and assumptions that lead to decline.  Advise and act accordingly. 
Never let a sense of accomplishment lead to complacency.  In tough times like
these, the guidance you give may dictate whether a company flourishes, struggles
to survive, or folds.

The following guidelines will help you establish the framework for a
successful ECM project, with tips for using standard office equipment (copiers,
scanners, fax machines and printers) to significantly increase productivity and
profit.  By providing a solid ECM solution coupled with the right equipment and
advice, you can help your clients to rise above current challenges and avoid
perilous downfalls.

Establish a clear vision and project goals.

• Know your client’s vision, long- and short-term goals, and how ECM can be
used effectively to achieve them.

• Understand how copiers, scanners, fax machines and printers work with ECM
software to help clients reach their aspirations.  Consider underutilized
equipment that could serve as capture sources.  You might not make a new sale,
but may benefit by consulting.

Solicit input and buy-in from staff.

• Someone must communicate project vision, process, and benefits to staff
early in the planning process.  After they understand the project goals, take
advantage of their knowledge and experience.  Staff members may unearth
overlooked weaknesses or improvement opportunities that should be considered. 
Carefully evaluate everyone’s input.  This also builds staff buy-in for your

Help staff embrace change.

• Employees who fear that ECM will eliminate their jobs often find it
challenging to embrace project goals and meet timelines.  Job insecurity can
lead to lack of commitment, slowdowns, and even project sabotage.  Make sure
your client communicates short and long-term plans, including repurposing staff
to other positions, eliminating posts gradually through retirement, etc.

Give staff adequate tools and training.

• After employees embrace the idea of using new technology, they will need
adequate training, documentation, and support to succeed.  Regardless of who
will provide what’s needed, make sure a detailed plan is communicated to staff. 
It will relieve anxiety and encourage readiness to move forward.

Encourage creativity, flexibility, and communication.

• For an ECM project to reach its potential, staff must streamline how
information is created, shared, and distributed.  Unconventional ideas often
lead to innovative adaptations and integrations of existing technology, with ECM
driving the changes. All ideas should be encouraged, as long as they are

• Although detailed project plans are vital for success, there must be
flexibility to address ideas and obstacles throughout the project.  A realistic
yet positive attitude is critical. 

• Goals, policies, expectations, timelines, and roadblocks should be
communicated regularly.  Appropriate, inclusive communication gets results. 

• Change is challenging. Recognize project milestones.

Celebrate success. Establish disaster recovery plans.

• Data is integral to a business’s ability to continue operations if there is
a pandemic, flood, or other catastrophe.  Disaster recovery planning is vital.
Create a hierarchy of business information.  Note who is responsible for which
recovery steps, and the order in which data will be restored.  Discuss whether
the company, the vendor’s professional services team, or you will provide the
disaster recovery planning expertise the company needs.  Proceeding without a
solid plan puts your clients’ businesses unnecessarily at risk.

Tools to conquer inefficiency

Web-based ECM stores, organizes, and makes information available to the
right people, whenever they need it, from any location.  Copiers (including MFPs),
scanners, fax machines, and printers often have many capabilities your client
needs to get started, but your client’s staff—and even their supplier or
advisor—may not be aware of the functionality or how it works.  Assess equipment
your customers already own. Help them do more with less and you’ll earn their

Copiers & MFPs. Many modern copiers and MFPs have basic scanning
functionality that captures documents electronically.  Copier and MFP indexing
functions might be severely limited, but if documents can be indexed with one or
two keywords, powerful ECM tools can complete the cataloguing process.
Customizable ECM security settings let you specify who can access files,
improving security while significantly reducing paper waste.

Scanners. Whether your client chooses desktop devices with basic one-, two-
or three-step functions or highly sophisticated scanners for large-volume batch
input, scanning dramatically accelerates document availability and
distribution.  Like copiers and MFPs, desktop scanners enable anyone to capture
and manage information electronically with ease.  For high volumes of routine
paperwork, high-speed batch scanning quickly captures and indexes documents for
ECM storage within seconds, making data instantly available for search,
retrieval, and processing. 

Fax machines. A frequently overlooked benefit of ECM is the ability to
capture faxes electronically for storage and automatic routing.  Digital fax
capture improves readability, eliminates frustrating ‘ghost’ transmissions,
saves significant toner and paper, enables secure desktop access, and
facilitates compliance.  If the system allows, your client can route faxes
appropriately to email Inboxes, ensuring they are categorized and secured in the
data repository for future retrieval.

Printers. Although most people equate printers with paper copies, some ECM
solutions can capture data from print streams and feed it into on-screen reports
or tables.  For those who regularly create detailed reports, enterprise report
management technology (or COLD-ERM) saves significant time and expense.  Money
should be spent on printing, toner, and manual documentation review only when it
makes sense.

As an advisor in the office equipment industry, you have access to the
building blocks to help your clients succeed.  Adding ECM to the mix lets them
gain control over disparate information sources and helps transform office
efficiency.  Understand the full capabilities of your equipment, educate
yourself about principles that make companies rise and fall, and take proactive
steps to ensure success.  With a solid plan and the right tools, you’ll be off
to a strong start.

Laurel Sanders is the director of public relations and communications for
Optical Image Technology, makers of the DocFinity® suite of document management
and workflow software.  For information, contact her at
lsanders@docfinity.com or visit 

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