Unrealistic expectations. The solution to this seems fairly straightforward: Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Of course, it’s never as easy as that. The customer will often hear what they want to hear. The solution is not to start any project without a clear statement of work in place, which includes a list of definable deliverables. One of the biggest areas of misunderstanding often has to do with automated data capture rates associated with optical character recognition (OCR). Make sure that your customers understand that this technology is designed to reduce labor, not eliminate it. Then, show them an ROI associated with that labor reduction and you should be okay—as long as you have it in writing.
Poor planning. The old saying goes, “If you automate a poor process, it just enables you to do things poorly, faster.” Document imaging itself is not a panacea for your customers’ document management problems. Rather, it’s a piece of a process improvement solution that you are going to implement in order to help them. Before you can improve a customer’s process, you first must understand it. And only then can you begin to implement tools in order to make it better. Document imaging, workflow, electronic forms, OCR, e-signatures—these are all tools you can utilize. The challenge is applying them in a way that actually delivers a process improvement that your customers can measure.
Getting user buy-in. As we’ve stated before in this blog, if end users find a system disruptive to their daily routines, they will find ways to circumvent it—destroying any potential for success. One way to guard against this is to get input from the actual end users when designing the system. Another way is to try to integrate imaging as tightly as possible with their current work habits. For example, if your customer is going to be imaging invoices, utilizing an application that can be accessed directly from their accounting system can be helpful. Also, providing ample training to end users is important—and if you can get your customers to create rules to enforce adoption, that’s even better.
Proving an ROI. Not every end user will ask for this, but, if they do, remember that document imaging offers both hard and soft ROIs. The hard ROIs can come in areas like reduced labor and physical storage costs. Soft ROIs can include faster turnaround time for transactions, improved customer service, and better records management.
Selecting a scanning device. Now that multi-function printers (MFPs) are a viable option, this decision is more complex than ever. The good news is that the price/performance proposition for scanners has never been better—so, no matter what you choose, you are almost certainly getting a quality device. You want to look at specs like speeds and duty cycles and always overbuy at least slightly when matching these with your customers’ document volumes. This allows for some growth. As far as MFPs, if your customers’ documents are fairly uniform and high-quality, they should work fine. For more challenging mixes of paper, a dedicated scanner is probably a better fit.
These are some of the major challenges you’ll run into with almost every document imaging implementation. Overcoming them isn’t rocket science, but it does take some discipline and attention to detail. Addressing these challenges effectively will help you create satisfied customers, which should lead to successful long-term relationships and more business.