EDM Creates A Bull Market for MFPs13 Nov, 2008 By: Laurel B Sanders imageSource
EDM Creates A Bull Market for MFPs
sluggish economy and shrinking markets have made ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ an
everyday mantra. Unfortunately, it’s not very encouraging to office
equipment/solution dealers who are hoping for new sales. Companies that planned
to replace existing hardware with newer systems are holding onto equipment
longer than planned, and some technology initiatives have been postponed.
Memories of good times and strong sales may seem distant, and a career change
might seem enticing. Yet the current bearish economy should not lead to
defeat. It provides a golden opportunity to examine and rethink your clients’
needs. By leveraging the multi-functional devices (MFDs) they already own with
software that expands its capabilities, you can add measurable value to your
clients’ existing investments. More importantly, you can build loyalty by
helping them to be successful in times that are as challenging for them as they
are for you.
In a bear market, it’s hard to convince investors to buy stocks or real
estate, yet those with the foresight to invest wisely often benefit
significantly from bull markets that typically follow. Regardless of how long
that turnaround may be, it will eventually happen. Like stocks or mansions
purchased during ‘the good times’, your clients may have invested considerable
sums in upscale equipment such as wide format multi-function printers (MFPs) to
advance their businesses. Weighing as much as the average grizzly and costly to
maintain, companies with such equipment may struggle to keep business strong
enough to keep it in use and out of hibernation. Getting ahead of the
competition may seem like a bull-headed pipe dream…but you can make it become
Companies that leverage MFDs with intelligent indexing, document management
and process automation can mimic bullish investors in a bear market, advancing
services and efficiency so they are positioned to surge forward as the economy
improves. Enabling encyclopedic-style indexing that goes well beyond your MFD’s
limited capabilities makes your clients’ materials secure and more valuable to
users. With a Web-based electronic document management (EDM) system, scanned
text, forms, and images can be retrieved from desktops remotely within seconds,
reducing printing costs. Finally, if you select an EDM system that is
integrated with business process automation tools such as workflow, data and
images can be distributed digitally within moments of receipt. This facilitates
the approval process for documents subject to review for a fraction of the cost
of paper-based processing.
Harness your information without the red flag
Those who use MFDs want to ensure files are easily retrievable. However,
gaining control need not be as exhausting as waving a flag to direct a bull.
People search for content in diverse ways depending on their job function, the
nature of their search, and even the way they think, so thorough indexing is
critical. Many MFDs and MFPs include basic indexing features, but the criteria
by which they categorize documents are severely limited. With intelligent
indexing software and a corporate indexing plan to support it, your clients’
information becomes infinitely more valuable across the enterprise. Searches
for documentation are more fruitful and less time consuming. Indexing software
assumes the role of the flag, telling data where it must go, how it will be
found, and ensuring users can locate it easily. No MFD should be without it.
Take the bull by the horns with document management
After files have been scanned and categorized for future retrieval, EDM
systems play a vital role in the usefulness of the information. Unlike the
limited, short-term, typically project-based memory of MFDs and MFPs, an EDM
system that is integrated with your hardware enables long-term retrieval as long
as the text, document, or image remains active in the business lifecycle.
Administrators can specify which users can access, view, annotate, approve, or
otherwise act upon each scanned file, and the system records each interaction in
detail. A Web-based EDM system with strong integration capabilities can link
files and images to other software applications where the data would be useful,
maximizing the value of each scan to the business. Files scanned into a
Web-based EDM system can enable remote access for documents that require review,
launch billing for projects, verify contractual conditions have been met, and
more. In addition, EDM can automate the migration, purging, and scheduled
destruction of files that are no longer needed in accordance with
document-retention regulations, helping clients to demonstrate compliance. In
the event of a disaster, the recovery capabilities of a strong EDM system ensure
your client’s business can continue uninterrupted.
Like a raging bull, process automation drives efficiency
As we consider how images, documents, and data can be used to drive business
processes forward, let’s return to the imagery of the waving flag and the bull.
The waving flag attracts the watchful bull with the promise of reward. The
receipt of new or updated files in an EDM system, or the automated collection
and packaging of a set of related documents, can set in motion the specific
actions that need to occur. Consider, for example:
- An architectural firm uses an MFD to scan blueprints into EDM storage.
Process automation software that is part of the EDM system has been
pre-programmed to collect specific drawings—renderings of building structure,
water and sewer lines, telephone, wiring, and more. After the final blueprint
is scanned, the drawings are packaged via digital workflow and sent securely
to the appropriate parties for review, approval, or action. The results:
Consistent collection and packaging of required documents. No more lost or
misfiled materials. Elimination of security concerns over scanning and
faxing. Fast and secure distribution of materials that require action.
- An insurer uses an MFD to scan applications as they are received. After
indexing the documents, their ‘arrival’ in the EDM system triggers an
instruction to begin the underwriting process. Required documentation,
approvals, and signatures are collected digitally, abolishing unnecessary
paper, eliminating redundant entry, enabling simultaneous document review, and
significantly shortening processing times. The results: Policies are issued
quickly. Premium payments are collected expeditiously, contributing favorably
to cash flow. Customers experience better service.
- A financial institution receives required documents containing highly
sensitive information for a customer’s loan application. The loan requires
signatory approval from three managers. Rather than scanning the documents
into the MFD and faxing them for approval with the risk of data being seen by
unwanted eyes, they are indexed and stored in a secure EDM system. Receipt of
the documents triggers appropriate packaging of related materials; emails are
sent to notify the managers of actionable material; the documents are placed
into the appropriate work queues, marked as urgent; and a decision is reached
quickly. The results: Sensitive data is secured. Work is distributed
efficiently. Mandated service level agreements are satisfied. A loan
decision is reached quickly.
- Process automation helps your clients to maximize the use of their scanned
files and data to complete more work, faster. It also supports the
‘distribute, then print’ preference of most businesses today. Mechanization
of routine tasks keeps your clients’ projects moving at Wall Street’s pace
during a bull rush, without the sweat equity.
Get ready to charge!
Putting the power of corporate information into one centralized, searchable
location helps a company take steady, intelligent steps forward now, while
paving the path for future growth with full process automation. An EDM system
helps your clients to increase their productivity and be more efficient, using
the data it already owns more effectively. It eliminates errors that accompany
redundant storage and delays that come from frustrating searches. Like a bull at
the gate ready to run into the ring, the added efficiencies provided by EDM help
a company to plunge forward, long before the market improves. With careful
planning and a little help from you, your clients can experience bull market
success despite a bearish marketplace, beating their competition with better and
faster service…and that’s no bull!
Intelligent Indexing is Key to the Digital Storage
Have you ever desperately needed something at the grocery store right before
it closed, but were unable to find it? Why can’t people who stock shelves think
like you, anyway? It would be so much easier to find things.
Like shoppers in grocery stores, many of customers of office
equipment/solutions dealers struggle to find needed digital documents. The
solutions you sell will hopefully contain powerful tools, planning,
communication, thoughtful indexing, and good training. To learn more on how you
can help your clients’ solutions deliver a new level of efficiency, consider
adding encyclopedic indexing capabilities to the data capture inherent in their
Indexing is challenging. Whether customers capture information on
copiers, multi-function printers (MFPs), scanners, barcode readers, or document
imaging systems, indexing is often a challenge. Your customers or even your own
staff think about files in dissimilar ways, and the ways they search vary. Even
people in the same department use varied logic to file and retrieve data. The
terms they use depend on experience, interaction with files, and their
role-based needs. Some businesses are reluctant to eliminate paper, fearing
electronic data will be permanently irretrievable.
“No more lost files” can—and should—mean NO more lost files. If your
customers store documents centrally in an electronic document management (EDM)
system & lose them, suspect inadequate indexing. What tips and tools can you
provide clients to guarantee no more lost files?
Think big. Even if your clients only scan files for one department,
they should consider the enterprise-wide needs for those files. This is vital if
the company will eventually centralize all of their files with EDM.
- How do other departments search for files and information?
- What information within those documents is important for their searches?
- What fields are common to multiple departments?
- Will departmental suffixes help for indexing purposes?
Consider retention requirements. Ensure that documents can’t be
accidentally purged when other departments may still need them. Get answers
before documents are indexed, so they can be found easily in the future.
Basic indexing isn’t enough. Many MFPs and scanners offer basic
indexing. However, as organizations grow and file inventories becomes complex,
encyclopedic indexing becomes vital. For example, an insurer might use an MFP,
indexing by name, policyholder number, and document type. EDM allows detailed
organization, enabling the insurer to index by agents, date/time stamps,
coverage, claims, etc. Persons responsible for reports, audits or processing
can expect more pertinent retrieval.
Don’t under index. Proper indexing requires thinking ahead and
considering future search needs. If multiple departments share documents,
consistent indices may be wise (e.g., establishing global customer numbers).
Smaller organizations may find simpler indexing schemes adequate, but larger
organizations will want details to address diverse needs. Basic indexing helps
no one except the person who does the cataloguing, and it produces poor
results. Collaboration and communication—examining various departments to
understand users, what they need, and how they search—is critical.
Beware of over indexing. Exhaustive cataloguing that fills indexing
fields with little-used terms is pointless. Staff will waste time senselessly
consuming brain cells as they try to index in ways that are both unnecessary and
unhelpful. Use terms staff need – no less, and no more.
Ask for help if you need it. Most EDM vendors work closely with
hardware distributors and VARs. Many offer services like document analysis and
indexing related to their products. Some offer integration services to help you
and your customers to build on essential hardware and software and transform the
pieces into a cohesive solution.
Invest in the future. Careful planning reaps measurable results.
Whether you sell copiers, MFPs, scanners, other imaging devices, or complete EDM
systems, encourage clients to consider the document process and communicate with
employees. By helping them understand proper indexing for storage, retrieval,
and efficiency, you will help them succeed. Consequently, the next time your
clients shop hurriedly for information in their electronic ‘stores’, they should
find exactly what they need 100 percent of the time, quickly, without relying on
others for help. Wouldn’t it be great if grocers could offer that same