Is it Time to Hire an Information Management Service?
(Update of a post formerly published as " Is It Time to Hire a Document Scanning Service?")
When we first wrote this article four years ago, the answer was a resounding yes, and AIIM's (Association for Information and Image Management) position on scanning was generally positive. But, today, our advice is different: Based on the needs of our customers, and backed by the numerous articles that AIIM has posted on their website, companies need far more than a mere scanning service today.
And smart businesses are taking action!
According AIIM, "Digital transformation begins with intelligent information management."
Or, as our customers have told us, they need far more than just digital documents. They need intelligent, automated ways to handle a large variety of information, that enters the organization in a variety of ways: email, snail-mail, web forms, text messages and more.
What companies have realized is that information is their most important asset, and that unless they have processes and people in place to handle that information in the most efficient, effective way possible, they're going to fall behind. Digital transformation is no longer optional, it's absolutely necessary!
So, if you think it's time to hire a scanning service, think again! We've moved way beyond that.
It's been nine years since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted, requiring all public and private healthcare providers to begin use of EMR. 2013 saw a huge movement, in all business categories, toward digital business and most prognosticators were saying that if your business was not well on its way to doing business digitally by 2015, it would become increasingly challenging to do business at all.
And now it's 2018, and while companies still have to deal with paper, many, if not most, have moved on, with the possible exception of old paper archives. Today, what most companies and government organizations need is an ongoing relationship with a business processes and document services company. This "perfect partnership" enables organizations to off-load and automate much of their repetitive gathering, sorting, and storing of information, regardless of the form it takes.
Forming the Perfect Partnership
But, before you turn this priceless information over to some remodeled scanning service bureau, here are five questions you should ask:
- What kinds of information do you have and does the service provider have the skills needed to perform intelligent information management?
Experience is a key determiner in choosing a service to manage your information. While scanning of paper documents may still be required, this is no longer the main focus. What's needed is a staff that blends business knowledge with IT management and programming, process automation best practices, Internet security and a bevy of solutions that can be readily adapted to most industry requirements.
- What kind of security, access and storage will management, employees, and clients need for the information?
In the past when companies went digital, they frequently simply saved the digitized information on CDs. While this method did get rid of the paper, it often simply exchanged paper chaos for digital chaos, without improving efficiency or lowering costs, beyond that required for paper storage.
Today's Cloud-access solutions, artificial intelligence processing capabilities and outsource information management providers eliminate digital chaos, maximize efficiency, and are capable of reducing costs dramatically. Organizations not only save money and aggravation over the long-haul; their employees are freed to focus on core business issues, promoting a more successful outcome.
- How will you manage this increasingly digital business when a personal touch is required?
Information management requires more than just digital know-how. It also requires a knowledgeable staff and effective ways to deal with customers who require a personal touch. That's one of the reasons that we here at Paper Alternative added call center staffing to our customer offerings. No matter how good the process is, there will always be a need for personal interaction. Our customers like the option to include an outsourced customer service solution as part of their information management package.
- How often will you and your employees need to access updated information?
Determining access requirements for updated information is an important part of any automated system. Some companies may require external access for vendors, partners or employees in other locations. A system that not only enables secure Internet-based access, but that also automates the generation and distribution of digital report, government compliance notifications and other time-sensitive information is another way to improve efficiency and ensure that all stakeholders are notified as required.
- Are there unique aspects or industry-specific aspects of your business processes that should be included in your solution?
Many companies never think beyond the basics when establishing an information management system. But this is a perfect time to review your business management processes and determine if current technologies can offer additional efficiencies beyond just information management. You may need specialized automated workflow, compliance assurance check-points, specific audit trails, or other features that can help your individual business function efficiently and economically.
Information management is absolutely necessary for today’s businesses and organizations. Before you embark on this digital automation journey, take some time to do an internal inventory of your current systems and processes, as well as potential improvements that you can incorporate into your digital business. Once your internal audit is done, then you’re ready to ask intelligent questions of prospective information service providers so that you can better choose the right partner to meet your needs, not only today, but into the future.