Any document imaging practice saves you more than just the cost of paper. A document imaging system or service gives you all the resources you need to scan and store all your business documents, including indexing, retrieving, and archiving both paper images and electronic files. The more paperless your document management process, the more savings you can realize. In addition to the hard costs of printers, toner, and paper, there are savings from the cost of faxing, mailing, and managing all that paper. The savings in storage space is also considerable when you convert all those paper files into digital form. And the added time and expense of having to manually file, track, and retrieve business-critical data is eliminated.
According to a survey on paperless processes conducted by UBM Techweb, IT executives agree that the ROI from document imaging systems is real. Of the business professionals surveyed, 84 percent said they wanted to use document imaging to improve overall efficiency, and 78 percent wanted to decrease associated costs. Another 78 percent wanted to eliminate misplaced or lost documents, and 70 percent said they wanted to find a means to distribute enterprise documents more easily. The survey also revealed that 82 percent said that document management systems delivered the ROI they wanted; with 17 percent saying ROI exceeded expectations, and 10 percent saying the ROI was much better than expectations.
To get the most ROI from your document imaging system, you need to have a strategy in place before you get started. Here are some basic considerations to consider to help you get the most out of document imaging:
1. What is the business problem that document imaging systems can solve?
Consider the business reason that you want to adopt a document imaging system. Of course, the evidence for cost savings on all fronts is compelling, but there should be a single significant business reason that trumps all others.
Document tracking could be the real issue at hand. Perhaps there is an ongoing problem with misplaced files, or a need to assemble archived documents in a hurry. If you are in a highly regulated industry, such as accounting, financial services, or health care, document imaging can be a solution to regulatory compliance. Cataloging and archiving paper documents could be invaluable in the event of e-discovery for a regulatory audit. Maintaining digital archives also makes it easier to store records for longer periods of time without taking up a lot of space.
If you are concerned about document security, especially in the event of fire, flood, or natural disaster, then document imaging gives you a means to store business-critical documents in a secure way that is easy to recovery. You can even create duplicate copies of archives for storage off-site or in the cloud for added security.
Once you have identified your principal reason for implementing a document imaging system it will be easier develop a strategy and find the right solution to get the results you need.
2. What’s the scope of your document imaging project?
One of the reasons that IT professionals turn to document imaging systems is to distribute and manage documents across the organization. That could mean within a single building or across office locations around the globe. Going paperless is not a trivial transition, so you need to consider how far-reaching a migration to document imaging should be.
Consider how many departments and divisions could be affected. How much support will you need from the executive office? Will you encounter groups within the organization with a legitimate reason to maintain paper processes, or who are likely to object to any paperless strategy?
Also consider all the potential applications you will need to support. Are there document types or sizes that will be difficult to scan or convert to digital form? What impact will the organization’s paperwork have on the technology you choose for digital imaging?
You have already identified the core business problem you want to address with document imaging. Consider using that application as a test case to prove viability and ROI. Whether it’s processing invoices, sharing regular reports, archiving records, or some other process, create a workflow that includes capture, conversion, sharing, and archiving and put it to work.
3. How do you measure success?
You need to have a clear metric for success. You can use ROI as a measure, for example, but you have to set the benchmarks in advance, determining the cost of paper, printers, supplies, etc., versus the cost of using document imaging. Some of the intangible components that contribute to ROI, such as saving of staff time, will be harder to measure.
Whatever success metrics you choose, make sure they align with the goals of the organization. If customer service is a primary goal of the organization, determine how document imaging can contribute to customer service in a concrete way.
Once you have created a list of goals, be sure to prioritize them and create a baseline for each. After you have completed a pilot project or have had your document imaging systems in place for a period of time, measure the results and match them against the baselines. You will be surprised by the results.
As with any new business process or initiative, solid planning in advance always ensures a better outcome. So what is your greatest selling point for adopting a document imaging system? Is there one argument you know you can use that will sway your organization’s management? We would love to know.