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REMOTE SOLUTIONS & SMBs: How Dealers Can Tap into a growing Market

16 Apr, 2007 By: Laurie Shufeldt imageSource

REMOTE SOLUTIONS & SMBs: How Dealers Can Tap into a growing Market

Document management, as a whole, is growing in the small- and medium-sized
business (SMB) market. Whether implemented as a remote (application service
provider or ASP) or locally-hosted solution, document management is a popular
solution for SMBs because it enables them to streamline information management.
SMBs are finding that document management solutions enable them to securely and
efficiently store both digitized copies of paper documents and electronic files.
And, because the information is electronically stored, it is easily retrievable,
searchable and accessible. Also, as the cost of scanners and imaging hardware
solutions become more affordable, SMBs are bringing these technologies into
their companies to shift from a paper world and start digitizing internal

Why ‘Remote’ for SMBs & Key Considerations for Selection

The main advantage of an ASP solution over one hosted locally is upfront
cost. Typically, the outsourced ASP solution is less expensive than managing a
locally hosted solution internally.  In many cases, the budgetary drawbacks that
would prevent a SMB from internally managing document management would be the
initial costs of purchasing and supporting a hosted server on the premises, as
well as the resources for an internal IT staff or paid consultant to manage the
server and associated products over time.  As technology upgrades become
available for hardware like a server, another advantage to a remote document
management solution is that SMBs are not stuck with older hardware when newer
products come on the market. Since the overall upfront costs are lower with a
remote solution, the return-on-investment (ROI) is also typically realized

SMBs who find that outsourcing their document management as an ASP solution
is more affordable should also address several key considerations to make the
most of the service. One, they should make sure they have sufficient bandwidth
to enable rapid download of their images and information from the outsourced
company’s server. Some records within document management can be large images,
which without the appropriate bandwidth can decrease productivity if employees
experience slow download speeds to access information.

The second important factor is for SMBs to make sure their information is
backed up in a location in addition to the outsourced company’s server (or
ensure the company has a back up system), in case that server fails and
information is lost. Secure information storage is second only to the
requirement of easy access and searchability. Research shows that SMBs who lose
information often lose customers and many go out of business as a result.

By digitizing documents and relationally merging the information with
disparately stored pieces of electronic data, document management providers,
like FileVision, help SMBs eliminate their reliance on paper-driven processes,
which are often productivity killers in the office.  A good document management
solution should incorporate digital imaging, document management, workflow,
relationship management and search capabilities.  These features combined allow
SMBs to focus on streamlining business processes and increasing office
efficiency and productivity.  Also, with the paper documents converted to an
electronic format, the original versions and digital copies can be stored
off-site, giving business owners the peace of mind that their information and
records are backed up, and can be restored if suddenly lost.  The information is
also secure and accessible only by assigned individuals in the organization.

Tapping into a Growing Market: Dealers & SMB Remote Document Management

Dealers can get more involved in tapping SMBs’ needs for ASP-hosted document
management solutions by building strategic relationships with the businesses at
the start of their technology needs. While almost all business owners use
computers and basic Microsoft Office applications for day-to-day activities,
many aren’t aware of the different characteristics of document management and
the various types of solutions available to them. Striking up an initial
relationship with an SMB when they’re at the point of growth where they need to
move from basic office technology to an overall information management system is
filling a need. Dealers can be especially helpful and gain additional long term
revenue through consulting services and product sales by making SMB owners aware
of factors like bandwidth, or what’s involved with maintaining a server locally,
etc. so he or she can be the most educated, budget-wise decision.

Shoulds & Should-Nots: Making the Most of Dealer – Customer Relationships

Dealers should not view SMB document management solution implementations as
one product sale. Rather, they should view them as ongoing consulting
opportunities.  Dealers should also try not to be intimidated by a learning
curve between their general familiarity with a product and the solution
manufacturer’s intimate knowledge of its every feature. This shouldn’t deter
dealers from making recommendations as good manufacturers will also make
themselves available for product presentations or to help close the deal.

If dealers only offer one type of product or consultation service, they should
look to partner up with strategic companies, like integrators or other service
providers to offer SMBs a one stop shop experience with their company.  SMBs
don’t have time to waste and typically don’t have the luxury of shopping
around.  They want to take the advice of their trusted technical consultant (VAR
/ dealer) and look to them for advice on these buying decisions.

Dealers should also take a new solution, whether remote document management
or any other solution, and integrate it into their current product lines to
cross sell to their current customer base. Too many times, dealers miss out on
sales opportunities when it appears taking on a new product will require
recruiting a new segment of customers to sell the product to. On the contrary,
you can save time and increase sales potential by making recommendations with
the customers you already have a relationship with and who trust your advice. 
Do that and you will bump up your own productivity in securing new opportunities
and raising revenue capabilities.

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