With paper-based material still accounting for about 30 per cent of all newly created corporate documents, many organizations today are considering electronic document imaging as a means of taming the paper beast and enhancing business performance. But given the financial and time investment needed to implement a document imaging program, getting consensus among senior decision-makers can sometimes be a challenge.
Winning end-user support is another critical obstacle that must be overcome. Going from paper to electronic imaging requires a cultural change. When you have people used to working with paper, you need to consider how a document imaging program will impact the way they work and whether or not that impact will be positive and beneficial enough for them to buy into the program.
Beyond ROI: Understanding the Benefits of Imaging
In light of these challenges, it’s important that if you are planning to propose an imaging program that you truly understand the business benefits of document imaging. Often companies focus too much on hard ROI numbers and inadvertently overlook the business outcomes that are harder to measure, such as increased customer satisfaction and enhanced employee morale.
So what are some of the key benefits of document imaging that will help you garner executive sponsorship and end-user support? These can be boiled down into the four Cs of document imaging: Cost Containment, Customer Service, Collaboration, and Compliance.
The Four C’s of Document Imaging
There’s no doubt about it: paper environments are costly to maintain. Paper files take up valuable real estate, require significant and ongoing expenditures for items such as file folders and labels, and often put a strain on a company’s already overstressed human resources. Document imaging can eliminate or minimize most of these expenses. In fact, imaging not only translates to cost savings in real estate, it also opens up that space for other business activities, such as a meeting room or an additional office.
IDC Canada says that each year, companies lose $14,000 worth of productivity per employee because workers can’t find the information they need to do get their work done. But there’s another casualty in this struggle: the unhappy customer who can’t get his problem resolved quickly enough because a company employee must first go hunting in the file room for the customer’s contract or work order form.
In organizations that have implemented imaging for customer files, employees can instantly retrieve these documents through their computers – usually while they’re still on the phone or face-to-face with the customer – cutting down on waiting time and speeding up the resolution of the problem.
With the growing emphasis on team work in organizations, sharing paper-based documents has become a tricky challenge for employees, especially when large files are involved. It becomes a problem when multiple people need files at the same time. Many companies don’t have file tracking systems, so people’s work is often left hanging until they can get their hands on the files they need.
Document imaging solves this problem by allowing several users to access the same file from one electronic location. And because the file is never physically removed from electronic storage, companies would no longer have to worry about tracking its whereabouts. With everyone on the team able to look at the same information all at the same time, the collaborative process is immediately enhanced because they all have the information they need to make a team decision and take action.
There are a host of government legislation and specific industry regulations that require organizations to produce, on demand, financial data and other types of business information for reporting and auditing purposes. Organizations that fail to comply with these requirements face stiff financial penalties and, in some cases, criminal sanctions.
Having all files stored electronically – including unstructured documents such as contracts, logs, and hand-written material – can speed up reporting and auditing. It also presents a positive image to auditors and regulators, since it conveys your company’s commitment to good records management practices.
Getting Full Value Out of Your Imaging Program
Ultimately, the rationale for implementing a document imaging program lies not in ROI dollar figures but in the value the program brings to your organization. If you are considering document imaging, the question to ask is: will the resulting value justify the cost of implementing the program?
When answering this question, it is critical to remember that imaging ultimately helps your company harness the power of the information contained in your records collection. When it is easier and faster to find and share information, the quality of business decisions that your organization make dramatically improves.
You also need to ask how your organization can optimize the value of a proposed imaging program. This means ensuring that the program, and any new hardware and software it entails, will work with existing technology and processes.
You should also be realistic about the time and human resources it will take to convert your boxes and boxes of paper documents into electronic files. One organization TAB worked with recently estimated that it would take 17 years to convert its files since it could dedicate only one person to the task.
This is where a company like TAB can really make a difference. From start to finish, we can deliver all the resources – including equipment, project management and scanning manpower – needed to design and implement a document imaging program.
Imaging is what we do. TAB has the advanced methodologies and production tools for converting files from paper to electronic format, we have highly experienced managers who can train staff in how to use the hardware and software, and we have the human resources needed to do the scanning work in weeks instead of years.