Government agencies and the public sector are notorious for generating lots of paperwork. Every time a new law is passed or a new contract is put out for bid it triggers an avalanche of forms, requests, and documents in triplicate. Of all markets, the public sector has a real need for document imaging solutions to eliminate excess paperwork and automate approvals and paper processes.
According to research from Lexmark and O’Keeke & Company, the United States government spends more than $1.3 billion on printing, and almost one third, $440 million, is wasted. Federal employees print, on average, 30 pages per day or 7,200 pages per government worker per year. Research shows that 92 percent print more than they need and discard 35 percent of what they print. Among the reasons cited for all that paper – 57 percent of federal employees say they require signatures on paper documents, 54 percent say they need paper copies to review in meetings; and 51 percent say they need paper copies to share with coworkers. Generating all this paper, and paper waste, would be eliminated with the effective use of document imaging solutions.
So when selling document imaging solutions to the public sector, what arguments do you need to apply to make a case for adopting digitized paper? Here are some of the arguments you might consider as part of your sales pitch:
Any government or public service agency will benefit from paperless processes. We all know that paper processes are slow and inefficient. Going paperless using document imaging solutions to turn paper into digital files is much more efficient and cost-effective. Any government agency can benefit from systems that automate workflow by capturing, storing, sharing, and distributing complex agency documents electronically.
For document routing and approvals, for example, using document imaging solutions simplifies distribution of proposals, contracts, reports, and other routine paperwork for review. Routine documents such as invoices or timesheets can be approved electronically securely, quickly, and with fewer errors. Even complex documents such as engineering specification, drawings, or complex reports can be scanned and distributed electronically, saving time and resources.
Consider contract management as just one example of paperless government processes. A government agency issues a request for proposal (RFP) for bids for a specific project. Normally, this would trigger a tide of paper flowing back and forth between the government agency and contractors, including specifications, clarifications, reports, plans, budgets, etc. These would all have to be circulated for review, initialed, and considered by various stakeholders before action can be taken.
Now consider how much easier that process is using documenting imaging solutions to eliminate the paper. All the necessary paperwork can be stored in a centralized cloud repository and authorized users can be authenticated to access paperwork relevant to their part of the process. Plans and procedures can be accessed for review, shared for comment, and signed electronically, and the digital system maintains version control and logs signatures and initials.
The result is a more efficient, consolidated system that keeps better track of the paperwork and eliminates lost documents or room for error. The system also maintains an electronic log of document access and approvals to make sure that all proper procedures and approvals and been executed.
Using optical character recognition (OCR) technology, document imaging solutions can be used to extract searchable content from contractor RFPs, subcontractor quotes, building plans, and other paper documents. This makes it easier to manage proposals by storing them as searchable content.
Converting paper to digital form using data capture technology also makes it easier to archive information. In the event of a question about regulatory compliance or some other issue, electronically filed paperwork can be readily identified using data search and eDiscovery methods.
Using digital data storage also can make government information more secure or more accessible, depending on the requirements. Sensitive paperwork can be archived and secured in the cloud or using some other storage platform to make the data secure against natural disaster or cyber terrorism. If government paperwork is meant to be readily available for review or public comment, then paper documents can be converted to digital form to post on a web site or secure FTP server.
The criminal courts and law enforcement have unique requirements for handling case paperwork. Document imaging solutions can be invaluable in helping law enforcement agencies cope with the mountain of routine paperwork.
Police reports, case files, and other routine documents can be converted and stored on secure servers for search and retrieval later. Using electronic archiving makes it easier to not only secure paperwork but also to manage access using secure user authentication, including access monitoring. Sensitive paperwork, such as juvenile criminal files, also can be secured and aged in the system as required by law.
More than Document Conversion
As with any other sales pitch for document imaging solutions, selling to the public sector is all about easing their paper burden and providing the right strategy to securely organize, store, and retrieve paper documents. Every government agency will have its own unique criteria regarding the nature of the paperwork they seek to convert and how those files are managed and archived.
For VARs, document imaging solutions can provide a path to a larger engagement. Once you have been qualified as a government vendor, you can offer additional hardware and software technology to optimize data storage and retrieval. What starts as a document imaging sale could lead to sale of more servers, data storage, cloud storage, OCR technology, ECM systems, CRM systems, and related technology. You can start by addressing an immediate need and then extend that relationship to offer end-to-end solutions.
So where do you see yourself beginning in your quest to sell document imaging solutions to the public sector? Do you want to start with a specific application or agency?