The MFP Report has provided business advice and insight to business leaders in all facets of the multifunction peripherals market for over 20 years. As a trusted strategic consultant and MFP Report’s editor, Brian Bissett has a unique perspective on imaging and digital documentation.
We spoke with Brian to learn from his perspective. Below is the transcription of our Q&A session.
Q: What are the key signs of digital disorganization (using DropBox or Google Drive)?
There are a number of issues that indicate disorganization. Using multiple cloud repositories is certainly a big one. The most common sign is certainly the absence of policies. If you don’t have a policy on which repositories employees can use, and allow individuals to make their own choices on such repositories, you’re certainly going to have disorganization. Not having explicit, written company policies on document retention, document security and document access is another clear sign, along with the absence of systematic document indexing or coding rules in place. One last sign is relying purely on fulltext search for document search and retrieval.
Q: For small businesses making the jump to document management software, how do you recommend they evaluate the best pricing structure? What advice do you have for making sure cost concerns do not get in the way of addressing business needs?
Companies must first decide what goals they are trying to achieve. Are you primarily trying to improve the organization of information for internal purposes? Are you aiming to improve your responsiveness to the needs of customer and external parties? Are you trying to satisfy legal requirements or protect your business against legal concerns? Are you simply looking for basic document backup and disaster recovery?Once you are clear on your objectives, you must assess what your organization is already doing from a document management perspective. Even if it is manual (paper-based) systems or cobbled-together solutions, some kind of document management system is likely being utilized by key departments, work groups or project teams. These stakeholders are often your best assets – a good starting point to learn what their issues are and what’s already working for them. Without their input, these individuals could be the most resistant to change in the future.
If your company has little experience in document management, it is often better to get started on a pay-as-you-go basis (SaaS, for example). This minimizes your upfront costs and the associated fear of making the wrong decision. At the same time, it enables continuous expansion and cost management.
Q: What recommendations would you give to businesses for laying the proper foundation for document management software?
As I mentioned above, before you decide on any software, you must first explore your current document and business workflows. Rethink and fix operational problems in this workflow first. The worst decision you could make is to force a new document management system on your organization to automate fundamentally broken or inefficient processes and policies.
With that being said, you must also accept that rethinking these workflows first will mean that your overall system adoption and rollout will take more time. But this measured, strategic approach will cut costs in the long run and better assure that a new system will be successful and get complete buy-in within your company.
Q: What recommendations would you give to businesses transitioning between outdated document management systems and newer software?
There are a number of recommendations I can make. First, run your current and new systems in parallel for a period of time until there is confidence that the new system is working. That confidence is key to getting your users to adopt the new solution completely.
You must also invest extensive time and staff training prior to rolling out your new system. Keep in mind that training has to cover all of the rules and procedures surrounding the new system, not just the mechanics of how the software works. Encourage feedback from the most ardent users of any current systems to learn what they like most and least about those systems.
Lastly, re-assess any current or anticipated legal, regulatory or client document management requirements that will impact your new system.
Q: When talking to businesses about implementing document management software, what departments and processes do you advise to focus on as a starting point?
It is often easiest to get management buy-in on new document management systems that are most closely related to the revenue cycle. Think accounts payable and receivable. If the system impacts key cost areas such as HR and ERP, or is associated with gaining or retaining happy customers (such as proposal generation or customer support and service), you’re far more likely to get the buy-in you need.
Rolling out a new system in just one of these key areas first helps you prove the tangible (and intangible) value of the new system, and will help you broaden the scope of a document management software.
Q: What questions do you recommend businesses ask potential software vendors?
First and foremost, I always recommend that people ask software vendors about their specific expertise in their particular industry. You want to have confidence that their solution will work for your vertical market.
Along those lines, get multiple customer referrals and be sure to actually speak with those customers. You want to learn the details of how that vendor sells to you and supports you as a customer. If there are channel partners, find out if there are multiple options in your area and then meet/interview those available to work with you.
You must also explore vendors’ pricing models in depth, paying particular attention to the standard features versus their optional, add-on features. It’s especially important as well to analyze each vendor’s approach and guarantees for system integration, customization, training and other kinds of professional services.
Q: In terms of technology, what features impress you most in the market today?
I’d have to say the combination of secure business-friendly features on top of the more generalized cloud-based solutions. For example, the sophistication of mobile device support – not only for document search and retrieval, but also for mobile document capture and mobile document printing – is a great feature that meets market needs.
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