How to Decide if EDM is Worth the $$$
Here at Paper Alternative, we’ve been talking about this subject a lot lately. Not surprisingly, it’s been a hot topic because so many of the people we talk to every day about their document management needs ask us this question, or some variation of it.
In fact, we get asked this so often that we’ve scheduled a webinar to talk about this very issue.
But, leading up to the webinar, we thought we’d take the next few weeks to touch on the various aspects that contribute to EDM ROI, starting with document scanning...
Document Scanning – the First Step
The experts say that going paperless can make your business more efficient, have a positive effect on the environment, and create productive employees. But you’re more than just a little skeptical. What do you need to know in order to make a sound decision about document scanning for your business?
Making the Determination
In order to make decide if going paperless is right for your company, start by looking for process inefficiency or imbalance, such as long waits for your customers, underutilized employees and overworked departments. Here are four questions that you should ask the staff that works with your company’s paper files:
- What do you do with the papers that cross your desk and why do you do it?
- What information and other inputs do you need to perform each task? Were and how do you get the information?
- What is the finished product of each task? Who are the recipients; and, why do they need what they receive? How is it sent?
Once you’ve conducted your staff survey, conduct group interviews and brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas for improving the workflow. Create a process flowchart, showing how your processes work now, and note how your staff thinks they could be improved. To do this, use a spreadsheet and enter each task in the row labelled for the function that performs that task. Enter inputs to each task above the task in the "Inputs" row and list the outputs of each task below it in the "Outputs" row. Note that the output of one task can often be an input to the next task. Connect inputs, tasks and outputs with arrows to show the direction of process flow, and the approximate amount of time each task takes.
While this process can seem overwhelming, it gives you a concrete basis for comparing a digital workflow to your paper-based workflow so that you can make an educated decision about scanning and going digital.
If your survey interviews, brainstorming sessions and workflow analysis showed room for improvement, you’re in good company. Most paper-based organizations that go through that exercise find that there’s plenty of room for improvement, and most find that even with the tightest requirements, paper-based processes are simply not as inherently efficient as digital processes – consider typing a letter, printing it out, putting it in an envelope and mailing it, vs. sending an email. While we realize that even the most paper-based organization uses email, this example gives a very clear picture of the way digital technology can speed other work processes, in ways you might not have imagined.
The first thing you will need to decide is whether to do your document scanning in-house or hire outside scanning experts. If you use outside experts, you will also need to decide whether to contract for the scanning services to be done “on-site” or in their scanning facility. Each one of these decisions affects the time, effort and cost of the project.