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Five Steps to Formulating a Document Technology Strategy

15 Feb, 2005 By: Steven Power imageSource

Five Steps to Formulating a Document Technology Strategy

Numerous document technology
resellers have incorporated extensive customer facilities assessments into their
sales process in order to identify selling opportunities for new technology.
It’s a strategy that has been around for several years now.

Due to that fact, it is becoming
increasingly difficult to build value in these assessments through the eyes of
customers. Many customers view the assessment as a unilateral element of the
sales process that benefits the salesperson, while not providing a long-term
value to them after the initial sale.

In order to build greater value
in the assessment process and create competitive distinction in the marketplace,
I strongly suggest that you go beyond just the assessment process and initial
sale to help clients develop a lasting document technology strategy (DTS).

Document technology strategy is
defined as a well-planned approach to harnessing existing IT infrastructure with
emerging document technology in order to increase productivity and reduce total
cost of ownership (TCO) for the customer. Five steps for creating and
implementing an effective document technology strategy are:

  1. Collaborating with internal
    and external resources
  2. Assessing the current
    document technology environment
  3. Designing an integrated
    document technology strategy
  4. Implementing the strategy as
    an evolution, not a revolution
  5. Measuring results and
    managing the ongoing project

 1. Collaborating—To
facilitate internal collaboration, a project team should be selected with
members representing and drawing from IT, finance, facilities/operations, and
key department managers who design and implement workflow processes. Upper
management must be engaged, champion the team from the start, and maintain
involvement on an ongoing basis.

External resources can provide
valuable expertise and accelerate the development and implementation of the
strategy. Many document technology vendors provide teams of experts who are
highly skilled in the analysis of the current document environment and the
development of recommendations.

2. Assessing—The next
step in the process is to assess the current document technology environment in
order to identify areas of inappropriate asset allocation; workgroups where
applications do not match existing technology; opportunities for workflow
innovation with MFPs; and opportunities to right size the document technology

An inventory of all input and
output devices in the current document technology fleet is conducted. Device
populations and related monthly volumes should be accumulated by category,
including printers, copiers, faxes, scanners, and MFPs. There are numerous data
collection agents available that automate and therefore accelerate this normally
time-consuming aspect of the site survey. Data collection software captures,
compiles and reports each device’s location and volume for devices connected to
the network or workstations.

The facilities site survey also
involves an in-depth investigation of each workgroup’s business processes,
workflow, document production, and distribution logistics. It is here in the
tedious, time-consuming task of "wandering around"and talking to department
managers and end-users that areas of dysfunction, waste, redundancy, and
innovation become obvious.

The assessment should also
include a comprehensive operating cost analysis for each device in the fleet.
Elements normally included in operating costs are acquisition (lease or
depreciation), consumables and maintenance fees.

Beyond operating cost, it is
critical to investigate the related cost for each device, which combined with
operating costs, reflect the true total cost of ownership. Related costs include
labor expenses relative to human steps required to produce, manage and
distribute documents (walking and waiting), fax telephone line and long distance
charges, courier fees, office space, help desk support, and even power

Once the assessment is complete
and all the information has been gathered, it is critical to compile and
document the information into a report of findings. This document contains
quantifiable findings, including the total fleet population, monthly volumes,
operating costs, and related costs (TCO). Based on department manager and
end-user interviews, workflow process mapping and print tracking reports; the
project team can make recommendations for a proposed document technology state.

3. Designing—Based on the
information in the assessment report, the project team can begin to formulate
recommendations for the proposed state of the document technology environment.
The information will reveal obvious opportunities for redeploying current
devices, reinventing workflow and document production and distribution processes
via MFPs, and redirecting print jobs to the most appropriate devices.

By identifying which print
devices are under utilized and which are over utilized, decisions can be made as
to where to properly deploy each device for optimum utilization and performance.
By identifying high-volume print devices located in proximity to high-volume
copiers and faxes, the opportunity to right size the workgroup’s fleet with MFPs
will be obvious. By identifying which print/copy/fax/scan jobs should be
directed to the most application appropriate, efficient and cost effective
device, organizations can increase productivity and realize substantial cost

When designing a document
technology strategy, it is important to look beyond the obvious device-centric
technology and explore middleware solutions, including document management,
e-forms and variable data printing applications. By harnessing the document
technology device with middleware solutions, organizations can automate document
production and distribution and management, reducing document life cycle labor
time and related costs dramatically.

4. Implementing—During
the assessment process, occurrences of redundancy and waste become painfully
obvious. The first step in implementing a DTS is to dispose of obsolete printers
which tax the help desk, consume power excessively, and require difficult to
locate and manage consumables and parts.

After filtering the legacy
printer fleet down to the "best of class" devices, the remaining devices should
be redeployed in the most application and volume-appropriate settings to
maximize utilization and ROI.

Next, the analog copiers can be
replaced with networked MFPs, which allow the consolidation of obsolete
stand-alone fax machines, fax servers and scanners.

Beyond the obvious, implementing
a new DTS and reconfiguring business processes can be challenging. Rational
implementation means implementing the new DTS as an evolutionary process versus
a revolutionary event.

When introducing middleware
solutions, pilot projects can be implemented in smaller more manageable
departments at first, with the implementation of enterprise-wide solutions in
phases. The piloting and phasing implementation allows organizations to
gradually influence end-user acceptance and address cultural issues related to
ushering in change.

5. Measuring—Managing the
ongoing implementation process includes measuring the effectiveness of each
phase of implementation. Assessing and documenting productivity increases and
cost reductions verifies ROI and leads to greater buy-in from finance and
department managers with budget responsibilities.

Ongoing management also involves
quarterly, semi-annual or annual account reviews conducted with the project team
and participating vendors. Account review agenda items should include technology
performance, ROI verification, vendor service/support, and suggestions for
improvements offered by each side.

The common promise of technology
is to increase productivity and reduce costs, thus realizing a sound return on
investment. By proactively implementing a sound document technology strategy,
organizations can realize these promised outcomes. In addition, helping
customers develop a long-term plan for the seamless integration of document
technology, resellers can position themselves as consultative resources, build
greater value in the customer’s eyes and create competitive distinction.

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