The main benefit of a document imaging system for a customer is an improved process. This could be a more efficient system for paying invoices, improved access to customer records, better governance over important records, or a smoother employee onboarding system. There are literally hundreds of processes that can be/and have been successfully addressed by document imaging.
The key to succeeding with any particular customer is finding their biggest pain point related to paper. Typically, you just need to ask where they are using the most paper. Per the paragraph above, accounts payable (A/P) and human resources (HR) are two areas that span across industries. More industry specific applications include mortgage processing in banks and case management in law firms
Once you figure out what that major pain point is, you can start to figure out how to address it. As a reseller, you are best served if you can assemble a set of tools that can be used across multiple applications. Also, it’s important to note that even though HR processes are similar in most organizations, they are not typically identical. The same with A/P, patient records, records management, etc. So, your toolbox needs to be diverse and configurable.
What’s in your toolbox?
Components should include:
scanners - there are a number vendors that sell quality document scanners, starting at approximately $500 and ranging into the six-figure range. Scanner choice should be based on volume, as well factors like types of documents you will be scanning (some scanner feeders handle diverse document types better than others), desired image quality, and price. Minimizing the number of scanner vendors you work with can improve your incentives such as rebates and discounts.
document capture software - This is the front end of document imaging solutions. Capture software can be used to drive a scanner, manage batches, and also provide automated data capture through the application of OCR/ICR technology.
document management software (DMS) - Once images are captured, DMS can provide functionality like automated workflow, collaboration, and records management.
storage - converting a large volume of documents from paper to electronic will typically increase storage requirements. Back-up of important files and optimal access speeds are important considerations as well.
Once you have identified your customers’ biggest paper problem, you can start utilizing that toolbox to put together a solution that best addresses it. Remember to keep it simple. There is always going to be resistance to change in any organization. To ensure success of your implementation, you need buy-in from the people who will be using the system. While it’s important to use your tools to improve your customers’ processes, it’s also important not to go too far and alienate the end users. Remember, if you have assembled a good set of tools, more functionality can be added down the road as part of a follow-up project.
It’s also important to initially focus on a single application and not try to solve multiple problems at once. After the first application is successfully implemented and in production, you can look for the customer’s second biggest pain point related to paper and see if a document imaging system makes sense there. You can continue working down the line until you reach returns that are diminished past the cost of expanding the imaging technology further.
Important considerations regarding each individual application include:
- integration with a line of business system, such as an A/P, HR, CRM, or ERP system
- volume of documents associated with that application and where they are received (at a centralized or distributed locations, for example)
- the potential benefits of automating the workflow associated with scanned documents
- the need for records management
- the potential for automating data capture from the document images, especially if they are structured or semi-structured forms (invoices are a semi-structured form)
- optimum retrieval times for users requiring access to the document images
Once you’ve considered all these factors, it should be possible to put together a proposal, complete with a potential return on investment (ROI) for the customer - that can include both hard dollar savings as well as softer benefits in areas like improved security, convenience, and accelerated processes that should free up employee time to focus on other tasks.