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Leveraging Document Collaboration & ERP Technologies

3 Mar, 2011 By: Greg Buschman, Verde Document Solutions imageSource

Leveraging Document Collaboration & ERP Technologies

Document collaboration and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which
leverage the cloud, are continuing to expand their influence on business
processes, digital workflow, and document output. Document collaboration is not
a new concept; however, new tools and methods are evolving at break neck speeds;
affecting the dynamics of printing and imaging equipment sales. At the
enterprise level, ERP systems are changing the way documents are created and
delivered. This is creating new challenges and business needs. This isn’t bad
news, these systems are limited in their ability to track, route, and control
document output.

The ability to communicate the value of incorporating imaging and printing
equipment into document collaboration and ERP business processes is quickly
becoming a requirement for responding to RFPs and winning major accounts. Over
the past three years, technologies have begun to mature and are converging to
bridge the gap between document collaboration applications, ERP system output,
and imaging equipment. Innovations from Electronics for Imaging, Hewlett
Packard, Rochester Software Associates, Xerox, MPI Tech, and Prism Software are
providing new opportunities for imaging dealers.

Document Collaboration: What is it, and why is it important to imaging

Document collaboration is one of the hottest topics in creating and sharing
documents. Document collaboration is the pooling and combining of information by
multiple employees to create individual and sets of business documents. Document
collaboration tools use the cloud, enabling local to global collaboration. This
is important because it is changing where, when, and how documents are managed
and output.

Affects on Professional and Managed Services

According to CRNtech, Microsoft and IBM are currently the top two providers for
enterprise-collaboration tools, and Novell will enter the market this year with
a creative new product called Vibe. Surprisingly, Google has experienced some
failure and backed away taking its file sharing application, Google Wave, off
the market. A lesson should be learned from the failure. Google’s technology was
sound but over the past few years, people have developed preferences for working
with document collaboration, and Google Wave required people to change their
preferences. Google’s failure points to the importance of understanding a
client’s business processes and preferences while solving their business
problems. An essential skill for a sales and systems analyst is to plan and
configure imaging equipment sales with SharePoint and LotusLive sites so they
correspond to the users’ current habits. Microsoft has built new features and
capabilities into Office 2010 to integrate more seamlessly with SharePoint, and
IBM continues to enhance its LotusLive offerings with office applications. This
will undoubtedly increase the momentum of document collaboration. A proactive
recommendation is to train system analysts on SharePoint and LotusLive and offer
related professional and hosted application services.

Leveraging the Power of Innovation

Documents created via collaboration typically contain unstructured data. In
non-IT terms that means a document contains information from more than one
application, for instance, Word, Power Point, Excel, graphics, pictures,
audio/video, monochrome, and color pages. Many of the document characteristics
require sophisticated output devices, including the ability to save or burn
audio/video portions to CD/DVD. A project may also need to be kitted, (i.e. a
bundled marketing package), checked for copyrights, printed on special stock,
and delivered via postal carrier. This is where educating your sales force
‘beyond the box’ can really pay off. A well-informed sales representative can
leverage the power of innovations such as:

  • FieryVUE with MS Office to make complex documents easy to output
  • Digital Store Front and WebCRD for seamless web2print job submission
    from a user’s desktop, to the print center, to the end recipient via FedEx.
  • RSA’s Q-Direct w/Q-Scan for digital routing and enterprise output
  • ROI Print Manager, FM Audit, or Print Audit to monitor and accounting
    for printing.
  • Prism Software’s DocSystem, a Swiss army knife for solving odd workflow
  • Nuance’s software suite for document preparation and entry into ECM

ERP Technologies: Departmental & Printer Center Output

In many cases, ERP systems do not include features for controlling hardcopy
output or digital document workflow. A good example of this occurred while I was
assisting a dealership with a multinational corporate prospect. The prospect had
implemented Oracle and was having difficulty managing document output, in
particular for the warehouse and shipping departments. When products shipped,
different categories of documents were required. These included documents such
as order forms, order/payment receipts, pick lists, delivery manifests, shipping
labels, product information, and federally mandated safety and compliance
documents. The problem occurred because several Oracle modules were needed to
create and output each document type. The documents printed out in separate
stacks, once printed an administrative assistant would manually sort, collate,
and staple the subsets into ‘shipping packets’.

We scheduled a meeting with the appropriate department heads and made sure to
include the administrative assistants and key managers. Our presentation
discussed how modern imaging middleware could receive input from the various
Oracle modules, collate the digital documents into completed shipping packets,
and output then in offset sets eliminating the manual process. At that point, a
senior administrative assistant from another department stood up and told
everyone how her system also outputs in batches. Her team was taking four to six
hours every Friday to manually sort, collate hard copies, and prepare them for
distribution. Middleware solutions from RSA, Prism, Solimar, MPI Tech, EFI, Barr
Systems, and Intermate a Kodak Company provide answers for departmental and
print center issues. If you hear terms such as, ERP and CRM, or OS390, AS400,
IBM iSeries, IPDS, AFP, and LCDS it’s a good idea to engage these providers.

Taking the Next Step

Document collaboration applications and ERP systems have strengths and
weaknesses, on which imaging dealers should capitalize. Major objectives for
deploying these systems are to cut costs and add efficiencies by automating
business processes and eliminating information silos. The reality; document
output controls are lacking especially in systems older than two years. Educate
your sales force and system analysts on business processes and the effects of
document collaboration and ERP systems. Then, in a candid discussion, bring both
issues and answers to the attention of your prospects showing how your
dealership brings value to their business.

Greg Buschman, SVP, Verde Document Solutions, has 10 years experience in
leading edge digital document solutions. A CompTIA Subject Matter Expert &
adjunct instructor at St. Petersburg College, he has developed color, print
production, professional services & solutions programs at IKON, Danka, Konica
Minolta. Visit
for more information.

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