What was your “ah-ha” moment in communicating ECM?

Working in Content Management for over 12 years often times I have found it somewhat difficult to explain what we do and/or sell. Have you?
I have found that who your audience is often dictates how you explain it. To an IT group I have described ECM in terms of storage and retrieval of images in to database/repository with searching capability, ability to apply rules for authentication and accessibility, removing silos of information, ability to do workflow and BPM, and other things like Meta-Data, networks, through-put and HA/DR. Sometimes their eyes gloss over and other times they “understand.”
To some business folks when I’ m talking ECM I most usually reference things like accessibility of their documentation, being able to search on key fields and automatically route work/documents/content without the use of email or paper files (at its simplest form) and its all stored in a database otherwise known as a “repository.” Or, when describing workflow, using the old analogy of a restaurant. When you go in to the establishment a hostess seats you, then you get a menu, a waiter comes up and then you order, that order goes back to the kitchen and you get your meal prepared, then after you have dessert, you get a bill, pay and get a receipt then the bus boy comes and cleans everything up – that’s a workflow.
But what do you say to your mother or father, sister or brother and even children (aka the layman)? I’ve tried things like, “I sell software that lifts information off paper or documents and puts that data in a data base that allows people to find it. Then the people can see the documents on their computer necessary to do their job.” But I still get a ‘blank stare.’
Then one day, maybe three or four months ago, my dad was asking me for his usual P.C. help and he said, “my printer/scanner isn’t reading the words as well as it used to.” Of course, that got my attention! Could my dad know what O.C.R. is? After 12 years of me talking about IBM, FileNet, EMC/Documentum, Microsoft , Captiva, Kofax and AnyDoc and him saying “I still don’t get what you do.” NO WAY! How could my dad possibly know about O.C.R?
So I asked him, “Dad, you know what OCR is?” Guess what, he replied YES! “Its that software that I use when I want to take words off my documents that are PDF or Tiffs”. BAM! He knew! Finally after 12 years he “figured it out” partially what I did for a living. Putting this in context, my dad is an automotive guy, first sales and then executive, who had never a need to do any “computing” most of his professional career.
We have a lot of acronyms in our ECM vocabulary: OCR, ICR, OMR, BPM, OSR, ODAR, HIPI, TIFF, etc etc etc. (I can go on for a lifetime of our acronyms). But what do you say so that IT people get what ECM is? What do YOU say to a business user, who never ever ever thought of this stuff day to day? What do you tell your mom, dad, brother, sister, what you do every day? What have you said that brings blank stares? But, most importantly, what have you said to a customer and then you saw the “light bulb” go off? It appears O.C.R. is making it in to the mainstream vocabulary, if my dad is any example, because he knows his, “HP MFP does OCR.”

So I asked him, “Dad, you know what OCR is?”  Guess what, he replied YES!  “Its that software that I use when I want to take words off my documents that are PDF or Tiffs”.   BAM!  He knew!  Finally after 12 years he “figured it out” partially what I did for a living.  Putting this in context, my dad is an automotive guy, first sales and then executive, who had never a need to do any “computing” most of his professional career.

We have a lot of acronyms in our ECM vocabulary:  OCR, ICR, OMR, BPM, OSR, ODAR, HIPI, TIFF, etc etc etc.  (I can go on for a lifetime of our acronyms).   But what do you say so that IT people get what ECM is?  What do YOU say to a business user, who never ever ever thought of this stuff day to day?  What do you tell your mom, dad, brother, sister, what you do every day?   What have you said that brings blank stares?  But, most importantly, what have you said to a customer and then you saw the “light bulb” go off?  It appears O.C.R. is making it in to the mainstream vocabulary, if my dad is any example, because he knows his, “HP MFP does OCR.”

Why I Love Electronic Forms!

I love electronic forms!

I love being able to not just fill out, but also submit forms electronically either from my PC or my tablet. It’s easy to change information if I mistype something or need to change information. With paper forms, you typically have to reprint the page and enter in all the information again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screwed up filling out a paper form and had to redo it. There’s also something nice about being able to click the “Submit” button at the end and not have to print and mail a document in and double-check to make sure it was received on the other end a few days later.

I’ve noticed that more companies and organizations are turning to electronic forms for both consumers and constituents. Users can fill out forms and attach relevant documents or information to the form and in some cases, even sign the form right then and there, no printing necessary! Continue reading

Please Hold for 1 Hour…

Great support is a must for any business and Customer Service 101. Automated support is great if you want to pay a bill with a credit card or check the balance of an account, but when you have an actual issue you need assistance with, automated support is the LAST thing that I know I want. You call the number, have to start pressing buttons and then keep getting dumped into various queues, and then when you actually do reach someone, sometimes you explain your issue, and then you get transferred 10 times until you reach the right person. I honestly dread calling any company or organization where I know this happens, because I know it’s not just a quick 5-10 minute call. It always ends up being 30 minutes to an hour of my time at least!

That’s one of the things that I think is so awesome about the Support Team here at ImageSource. Our customer partners can put in a support ticket via the website with information about the issue they are having and a live human being from our Support Team will call them to help work through the issue. The team can chat with the customer over the phone or even set up a WebEx session to dial-in and see what’s going on. What’s even more wonderful about working with so many great organizations in the Olympia area, if the issue can’t be resolved over the phone and/or over a WebEx session, a technician can be onsite relatively shortly to assist. How cool is that?!

On top of all that, there is always someone from our Support Team on call 24/7. So if a customer partner has an issue in the middle of the night that needs immediate attention, someone is always on call if the need arises!

ImageSource’s Support Team is very knowledgeable on a number of different content management products, from capture software to eForms to records management and everything in between.

So if you’re having an issue, don’t be afraid to reach out. You’ll get to talk to a human and you won’t be put on hold for an hour…

Kristina Linehan
Account Executive
ImageSource, Inc.

Getting Rid of Legacy Systems

I recently watched a segment on King 5 News around how some government agencies are using legacy systems for their day-to-day work. The article was highlighting the software program used at the Department of Licensing to process vehicle registrations, however, there are a number of additional agencies that are using legacy programs and platforms for their day-to-day processes. The segment went on to discuss how expensive it would be to update all of those systems. Continue reading

Compliant Public Disclosure Starts with Smart Records Retention

If there’s one message I consistently hear from customers today, it’s how big of a deal public disclosure is for the government and how we need better solutions around it. That being said, you would not believe how many of these organizations don’t feel that they have a good handle on their content.

In Washington State, public disclosure refers to the release of all documents and content to the person making the request. These documents at minimum need to be available for the requestor to view. There are some exemptions to this, such as sealed case files.

Good public disclosure practices really start with one thing: good record-keeping (and destruction). We hear time and time again from customers that they’ve never thrown anything away for fear that the document may be needed at a later date. While they may be thinking that this is the best way to avoid throwing anything away that should be kept, it also means keeping records that should have been destroyed.

Some aren’t aware of the fact that when a public disclosure request comes in, organizations are required by law to turn over any documentation pertaining to the request (as long as it is subject to disclosure). That means that if documents haven’t been destroyed and fall under the specific request, those documents need to be turned over as well, even though they are past the retention period. This poses a huge risk in regards to potential litigations.

Getting your records in order may seem like an overwhelming task, but here are some steps you can take to move toward better practices related to retention and disposition of records.

  1. Understand YOUR Organization’s Requirements for Record Retention and Disposition
    Every organization is different. Certain records have to be kept longer than others, some records might need to be sealed, others may need redaction before they can be turned over, etc. Each organization, each department, even each business process may have different requirements around records. Determine and document what the requirements are so that when you start to do an inventory of content, you have a definitive plan regarding what needs to be kept and for how long. Click here for a link to the Washington State Records Retention Schedules.
  2. Where are my Records?
    Identify where records are kept. Are they stored on a network share? In a file cabinet? In a content management system? Somewhere else? Are they in paper form? Electronic? Are there video files? Regardless of where the documents are kept, the regulations are around how you get the content organized, not the file format or how hard the collection process is. This will help ensure that there are not duplicate documents, and if there are, that only the pertinent copies are kept so as not to be a factor in a potential litigation.
  3. Perform an Analysis and Inventory of Your Records
    Some organizations choose to do this internally, some hire a contractor, and some take a hybrid approach. Regardless of which path you choose, determine what content you have, what needs to be kept, and what can be disposed of before evaluating any technology. This will keep you from bringing content into a solution that will need to be immediately disposed of after the initial analysis.
  4. Choose a Solution that is Flexible and Easy
    95% of organizations I work with are looking for a solution that is easy-to-use yet flexible enough to change with requirements. They want something that can easily set up to work with current retention and disposition schedules, yet can be updated without too much effort if laws or regulations change.
  5. Trust the System
    If you’ve done the prep work correctly, then what you need to do is trust what you’ve put in place is going to work. Choose a good partner with a track record of success to help you.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what can be accomplished around public disclosure, records retention and your content. ImageSource has been assisting customer partners with these types of solutions for the last 20 years. We have done everything from initial consulting through implementation and support. Below is a short list of some of offerings:

  • Expert consulting to determine your “as is” state and develop a plan to get you to your “desired” state using industry best practices
  • Assessment of your current technology and how it can be leveraged
  • Solution evaluation to perfectly match technology with your requirements
  • Solution deployment, configuration, training and rollout
  • Document collection, conversion, scanning, taxonomy definition and automated classification and metadata extraction
  • Data Migration
  • Ongoing partnership for system/process tuning, growth and support
  • Managed applications services

The ILINX platform can assist any organization with getting a handle on their content.

Document Scanning Best Practices

Document Scanning Best Practices Content Management Systems are one of the most useful resources companies have available to keep their managers, staff, and customers informed. Managing those files effectively is an ongoing challenge, but a well-planned, best practices implementation makes it significantly easier. Most Content Management Systems start with Scanning as the starting point in the lifecycle of any document. The decision of whether to go with a centralized or distributed scanning model must be carefully evaluated to see which may be a better fit for the organization. Many times a hybrid model of both remote and centralized is required and becoming more popular. When it is done designed and implemented correctly scanning ensures that the data stored in the document management repository is valid, readable, secure, accessible, and useful throughout the enterprise. Some important things to remember when deploying document a document scanning system: • Establish clear goals and objectives before you start or deploy a Document Scanning System. • Establish clear and concise business rules around your company’s requirements. • Consult a well established Systems Integrator with the knowledge and expertise to help you with defining “Best Practices for Document Scanning” and always check references. • Understand the nature of your documents, the quality of many documents may be poor, this in turn will require you to use Image Enhancement Technologies that will automatically clean up the document and improve its readability. These types of technologies are a must especially when utilizing OCR or any advanced form of capture. • Scanning and especially the Indexing of documents can be somewhat laborious, so anything to help automate these tasks such as Bar Coding, OCR, database lookups and electronic forms will make life a lot easier. • Use the KISS Principle in dealing with data taxonomy and avoid capturing too many fields, but make sure it’s enough to do valuable searches. Here at ImageSource we try to have 10 document types maximum and 8 data fields which allows for effective searches, retrieval and reporting. Lastly, don’t lose sight of your short and long term goals, do your homework and study your documents and see how they fit into your business lifecycle and corporate governance. Talk with people throughout you organization and get their input to better understand your documents are used. Finally, if you’re unsure get help, this is not an area where you can afford a mistake. Remember, it all starts with getting information into the system. Bob Garrido Senior Account Executive ImageSource