A lot of people confuse document imaging solutions with “going paperless.” And while technologies like scanning and capture can certainly be used to digitize paper, the digitization is not the end in itself. The real benefit of a document imaging system is how it can be leveraged to improve a business process.
Let’s take an accounts payable example. Say you are working with a city government with a centralized A/P department, which receives invoices. But, the city has multiple departments spread all over geographically that need to approve the invoices. Historically, a driver has delivered these invoices to each location and then picked them up a few days later after they have been stamped for approval.
A document imaging system could offer several benefits:
improved workflow - the driver is removed from the equation and an image of each invoice is sent to the appropriate department for approval, which saves on both time and gas
improved security - there is less chance of documents being lost or misplaced in a digital workflow
elimination of the need for paper storage
potential automation of data entry through the application of OCR
It’s the selling of these types of benefits that is the key to selling a document imaging system. There’s more potential when purchasing a scanner than the standard need of creating an image of a document. The real benefit of a document imaging system is that it can be leveraged to create more efficient processes.
A broader look at process improvements
Process improvements provide the user with their ROI. Here’s a broader definition of the basic benefits listed in the example above:
workflow - this is the ability to more efficiently share, access, collaborate on, and exchange documents because they are electronic. Reduced turnaround times are a major benefit of workflow.
security and accountability - once a document is imaged, it becomes a traceable record. A user can determine who has viewed it, when, and how often. Workflow tasks can be set up, for example, to automatically notify a user that a document is waiting for approval and a notification can be sent to an administrator if no action is taken during a pre-determined amount of time.
eliminating file cabinets - real estate can be expensive and eliminating paper storage can help reduce rent, off-site storage fees, and/or open up new space in an office. Plus, digital files, if properly backed up, as well-designed imaging systems typically are, are less likely to be lost due to a catastrophe like a fire or flood.
automated data entry - once a file is digitized, techniques like OCR or outsourced key entry can be applied to help reduce labor related to capturing information from the documents for use in data-driven line-of-business systems. After all, documents themselves are often not what is important - rather it’s the information on them that really makes business happen.
This is just an outline of the benefits that can be gained from document imaging technology. Every customer, even those within the same industry, will have processes that are unique to them. Really understanding those processes and coming up with a plan to improve them through document imaging is the key to selling the technology.
When implemented properly, a reseller should start to see patterns across specific vertical markets and even across horizontal applications like human resources and invoice processing within their customer’s businesses. Being able to repeat similar implementations will help maximize efficiencies in the reseller’s operations. But to get the most out of each installation, the reseller must also be flexible enough to adjust to the needs of each customer’s processes to ensure maximum ROI.
Proving ROI will help a reseller succeed with the immediate installation, as well as future implementations. Document imaging is often expandible into several areas within a single customer and nothing is better when approaching a new customer than a strong reference site with similar processes. And remember, it’s selling the improvements that you can make to these processes that is the key to selling document imaging. Ingram Micro is here to help with cross-sell opportunities in addition to the dedicated Document Imaging sales team.