Profit-Making Peripherals11 Aug, 2009 By: Laurel B. Sanders imageSource
Office peripherals such as scanners, fax machines, PDAs, and shredders are
typically viewed as accessories. Individually, each adds value and
convenience. When brought into the information continuum, however, they no
longer sit on the periphery. Web-based electronic document management (EDM) and
workflow move peripherals into the mainstream, streamlining time-consuming tasks
and freeing staff to focus on more meaningful work.
How can you transform peripherals into cost-saving, profit-generating tools
your clients won’t want to do without? First, understand your clients’ business
challenges to learn where peripherals can result in corporate gains for both you
and your customers.
Peripherals -Tapping Into Their Potential
Few businesses fully understand the capabilities of their digital devices.
Most managers don’t have time to read manuals cover to cover to learn how the
tools they buy can support business goals. They buy equipment to address
specific business needs—and move onward.
By taking time to understand the potential of peripherals as part of the
ongoing business information continuum, dealers can help their clients shorten
turnaround times, improve revenue cycles, reduce expenses, enhance services, and
position these companies to manage future growth more cost-effectively.
Here are three ways to use peripherals and EDM to transform your clients’
1. Create a digital mailroom
Despite increased digital communications, many documents are still received
on paper and are processed every day. If your customers don’t take advantage of
their peripherals to digitize information and mechanize routine processes,
they’re missing significant cost-saving opportunities. Efficient business
processing starts with efficient capture of mailroom communications.
• Scanners and desktop copiers: Scanning and indexing documents into
an EDM system makes files digitally accessible to authorized persons from the
moment of capture. Whether clients use a high-speed scanner, desktop scanner,
or desktop copier with imaging capabilities, scanning generates significant
savings. Digital files eradicate paper waste and reduce postage expenses.
Desktop access eliminates frustration from misfiled or lost documents. 24/7
remote access keeps business moving at any time, from any location.
• Fax machines: Routing faxes electronically to email inboxes
eliminates paper, ink, and problems that result from poor quality fax
transmissions and ghost faxes. Security concerns from exposed papers are no
longer a concern. Fax communications are secured, indexed, and stored in EDM.
They can be accessed remotely, routed electronically, and addressed quickly.
With EDM, clients gain insight into mailroom activity virtually rather than
waiting for the mail to be delivered to them. Distribution costs and delays are
eliminated, so the real work can begin. No more back-breaking mail deliveries.
No more inquiries about mail awaiting action on someone’s desk. No more claims
of “I never received it.” Once it’s digital, it’s there—logged, indexed,
secure, and accessible simultaneously to everyone who needs it.
2. Streamline & automate tasks
• Electronic workflow: Although workflow software isn’t what you
would call a traditional peripheral, it’s a vital add-on to integrated EDM.
Workflow pushes and pulls data wherever it’s needed according to business rules,
driving work across the enterprise efficiently. It pushes peripherals’
productivity to the max.
• PDAs (and laptops): When tied to EDM and workflow, they let workers
access files and act on important business without trips or calls to the
office. Whether office staff is waiting for a document approval or a remote
worker needs to review a file, processes keep moving according to established
• Hand-held scanners: Workers can scan documents from any location
for storage in EDM, ensuring that real-time data feeds the flow of work.
• Telecommunications devices: You’ve probably experienced automated
calls from your doctor or insurance agency, reminding you of upcoming
appointments or important deadlines. You get better service; the company sees
better response, while saving time and money. Integrating workflow with digital
storage and telecommunications software and devices improves services while
conserving resources. Texting included.
Consider how peripherals, EDM, and workflow expedite a simple insurance
• Digital, time-stamped receipt of claims forms ensures clients are handled
consistently and within manated deadlines.
• Adjusters’ digital photographs are stored in EDM with pertinent scanned
paperwork for easy, secure access & quicker processing.
• Electronic documents, communications, and faxes are digitally packaged and
sent to pre-authorized persons for approval or rejection according to business
• Automated calls are made to customers requesting additional information
that is needed.
The result: Claims are handled more quickly while involving fewer people,
reducing costs and generating higher profits. The insurer is well positioned
for future growth as the economy improves.
3. Facilitate compliance
A byproduct of tying peripherals into electronic document management is the
ease of demonstrating compliance with regulations and internal governance
policies. Once it’s set up there’s no work, it happens spontaneously. Digital
devices tied to EDM leave a detailed electronic trail of every scan, fax, copy,
call, and transaction. No more Clue-like questions of whodunit, where, and with
what device. Not only does EDM guarantee appropriate access to stored files in
accordance with your rules; it proves compliance with the directives you set in
Organizational efficiencies are limited only by imagination. Help your
clients migrate from survival to victory during the economic slowdown; aim to
position their companies for success. Start brainstorming ideas about ways they
can automate work more cost-effectively. Tying needed peripherals to a software
program is the key to efficiency.
Rethinking the key to success
Maximizing the value of peripherals requires thorough analysis and creative
thinking. By linking your peripherals with document management and workflow,
you will help position them to manage cost-effectively while the economy
improves. First, analyze your clients’ business needs in order to be effective.
Ask about challenges they face now and those on the horizon.
By understanding their primary business goals you’ll discover what equipment
and programs are best suited to achieve them. Include the document lifecycle
requirements (the info that needs to be captured, stored, managed,
retained/archived, or destroyed) and consider the importance of managing related
By becoming the hybrid dealer or total (or nearly) solutions provider, where
each ‘accessory’ was brought into the equation to accomplish a goal, you and
your clients understand how peripherals interact with document management and
workflow, and the potential value they bring to business. They move from the
periphery to cost-saving, profit-generating, prized possessions. You won’t need
to “peddle your peripherals” anymore - clients will see them as part of their
plan for a successful office environment.
A note about shredders
Shredders may seem like ‘blah’ peripherals—but they don’t have to be. As
documents are captured electronically and paper is no longer needed, they can
become a reason to celebrate.
Back to claims processing: One insurer recently scanned tens of thousands of
claims forms. By automating claims processing, they turned their 30-day process
into three days and eliminated 90% of their paper and paper-related expenses.
While shredding the imaged files, they decided to frame the last shredded claim
as a reminder of life before EDM. Without the marriage of EDM and peripherals,
there would have been nothing to frame and, more importantly, little to
Although workflow software isn’t what you would call a traditional
peripheral, it’s a vital add-on...
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
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit