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Integrate EDM & BPM for a Smart Information Highway

5 Jun, 2010 By: Laurel B. Sanders imageSource

Integrate EDM & BPM for a Smart Information Highway

“All roads lead to Rome.” The idiom recalls a historically
superior road system logically & consistently designed and well built. These
sophisticated highways enabled quick, reliable transport for diverse goods and
the empire’s rapid expansion. No matter where journeys originated, people would
always reach the same endpoint: Rome. Over 250,000 miles of consistently
engineered paths and highways helped legions travel efficiently toward a common
destination. If only implementing and navigating a suite of document management
software would be that consistent, reliable and easy…

Variety isn’t the spice of life when it comes to electronic
document management (EDM).  Software suites sporting diverse interfaces and
offering wide-ranging instruction and tool tips for installing, supporting,
capturing, viewing, and managing information inhibit mobility as people try to
accomplish simple tasks. Yet inconsistency is emblematic of most EDM systems
today: after all, many suites began with a single component (imaging, archiving
or records management), gradually ballooning into unwieldy suites with
incompatible functionality. Thanks (or no thanks) to multiple mergers,
acquisitions, and buyouts, few truly are suites designed with a consistent look
and feel, are intuitive; or offering a single place for installation,
configuration, and support. Inconsistency and incongruous design hinder
efficient use, and inefficiency costs money. When managing information is
challenging, significant hidden costs are added to the bottom line.

Determine the value of your content 

Not all information is equally valuable.  However, meaningful information
stored on each document, image, or other medium should be securely and
immediately accessible. Vital business content is as basic as a customer’s name
or number, type of product purchased, or purchase date (needed for multiple
business processes) to make informed decisions. Typically workers must access
multiple systems; copying, pasting, and screen-scraping needed content from one
place to another. Alternatively, they must request it from colleagues and await
a reply. Avoiding this cumbersome process is only possible when systems are well
integrated and EDM has a logical, unified, and centralized interface from which
commands are executed and information is accessed.

Use valuable content meaningfully

If you’ve read the articles in previous issues, you understand EDM’s role in
ensuring that business-critical information is logically stored, thoroughly
indexed, securely accessible, and instantly found when it’s needed. Business
process management (BPM) goes further, letting you define business rules to push
and pull important information wherever it’s routinely needed within standard
business processes, ensuring its meaningful use. This expedites decision making,
streamlining human involvement to handling exceptions and other areas requiring
analysis and critical thinking.   

Consider meaningful use of information in a routine request
for insurance coverage.  Think about some of the information that’s gathered:

• customer name

• type of product or coverage requested

• application date

• amount of coverage requested

Whether information systems are still on paper, mixed
media, or fully digital, some of this information is subsequently used to pull
up previous claims, payment history, risk, and more. With EDM and BPM in place,
you could:

• use application dates to auto-prioritize incoming applications, ensuring
sequential processing

• re-route work as needed to alternate underwriters

• launch applications automatically into appropriate review queues, together
with supporting documentation, for the assigned underwriter as it’s scanned or
submitted online

• use customer name and ID to automatically pull up historical information for
the underwriter to assist in enabling informed decisions

• extract and push customer name, contact information, coverage, purchase date,
and other vital data automatically into the invoicing software immediately upon
approval via • single mouse click, expediting billing and eliminating potential
billing errors from re-keyed information

Re-using information meaningfully as it’s collected lets

            • Avoid manually re-creating information for multiple systems

            • Shorten turnaround times and offer better, faster service

            • Ensure business-critical content is available everywhere it has
value, from the moment it’s collected.

Demand more from the technologies you own

Many organizations under-utilize EDM and BPM by neglecting to integrate it
with their information systems enterprise-wide. Doing work two, three, or ten
times faster is laudable, but if you’re still doing it multiple times, in
different ways, in several systems (such as re-keying transactional information
into your customer database, policy administration, and accounting systems),
you’re missing opportunities for efficiency and savings. Industry-standard Web
services connect systems behind the scene, giving each end user only the
functionality they need from EDM and BPM to expedite tasks. Whether they
routinely need to launch workflows, extract information from other systems,
extract specific images for review, or initiate automated calls and customized
letters, they can do it all using familiar screens and systems, dramatically
shortening the learning curve and dramatically expediting turnaround.

Make work easier with a uniform interface

Whenever people adopt new technology and methods, several universal truths

• A consistent interface where everything looks, feels, and
works the same makes products easier to use, encouraging faster and more
thorough end-user adoption

• Ease of use, where the user doesn’t have to consider how or where to access
functional components or how to make them work, leads to faster processing

• Quicker processing results in higher output, giving users more time to address
other business needs 

Uniformity is critical to adoption.  Adoption is vital to success.

Get started on the right foot

What does a unified interface mean for you and your
customers?  The ability to handle more business, more quickly?using fewer
resources?for a lower cost.  Where can you find a product line that offers
this?  One option is Optical Image Technology’s latest release of its DocFinity
suite (www.docfinity.com).  The re-designed and re-architected product line,
built from the ground up, answers the call for a fully integrated, browser-based
suite.  Its single web-based interface lets you configure, administer, support,
and manage all of the suite’s functionality within the browser, wherever you
are, whenever access is needed or convenient. A centralized and unified approach
to IT significantly streamlines the learning curve for IT administrators and end
users alike.  AIIM (www.aiim.org) has an excellent library of information.  From
best practices to white papers and vendor information, it’s a hub of useful
information about managing documents and information throughout the information
lifecycle. Knowing what you need to achieve, creating well-planned roadways that
address those needs, and choosing products that sport a unified menu of
functionality and how-to verbiage in ways that users understand will help to
ensure that your goals are reached.

Laurel Sanders is
the director of public relations and communications for Optical Image
Technology.  For information about the company’s award-winning suite of
DocFinity software, visit www.docfinity.com

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