Are Your Ducks in a Row?

At the end of a long year, we anticipate some time off. Our brains needed something less taxing than end-of-year worries and New Year budgets and plans. But, now that we’ve crossed the great divide and are a month into 2016, it’s time to rev up your engines and get your ducks in a row.

Your 2015 Goals

Business productivity and the improvement of your company’s operations is a continuous process. How did you do with your 2015 goals?

  • Were you able to research ECM effectively to be ready to make some decisions?
  • Did you reach out to advisors for help?
  • Were you looking to replace your legacy system for something more scalable?
  • Did you start on your roadmap with some modular implementation?

Whether you are still looking for a solution, have budgeted to move forward this year, have a system that needs to be replaced or your implementation/adoption has stalled – now is the time to set those new ECM goals for 2016.

Week 1:

Review the 2015 Plan

RESEARCH – Spend some time on what you achieved in terms of productivity. You may have identified your first step as research and spent time getting a better understanding of what ECM can do for your organization.

EDUCATION – Aggregate your findings from the websites you read, conferences you attended and consultants you engaged for a preliminary discovery; reflect on how your knowledge has helped with senior-level support for an ECM implementation. This can position you for future implementation.

REVIEW – Consult with your team from senior-level decision-makers to department-level users. Are there still open questions?

Week 2:

Identify Gaps

There is always some level of excitement when ECM comes into the productivity picture. The thought of fewer paper processes and automated workflows causes such a culture change that users often are ready to go … NOW. Consensus on the objectives is critical and support with a budget will enable you to move forward.

  • Is senior management in sync with business needs? Has your decision team involved the users to ensure you are adopting a system that will be embraced and eagerly adopted?
  • Is IT in step with the business needs across the organization?
  • Does everyone understand the options?

Week 3:

List Overall Goals

It’s important to revisit goals. Everyone wants to see a quick return on investment and the savings of time and money. But, do you know which area of your company will be the early adopters: Accounts Payable? Human Resources? Contract Management? Get more detailed. Be selfish. Where do you really want to see a change? For instance, your goals may be:

  • We want to implement ECM by September 2016
  • We have prioritized the most critical areas for reducing paper and implementing an automated workflow to be AP and HR.
  • We want to integrate pertinent information from disparate systems into a single dashboard.
  • Mobile capabilities are very important for our field staff to access paperwork on the road.
  • By December 2016, we want a more comprehensive records retention plan: reduce our physical record footprint, see file cabinets disappear, and digitize content from bankers’ boxes in our remote storage location.
  • We want interagency communication to be digital, replacing the messengering of paper files and providing information access more quickly.
  • We want our entire admissions process to be linked to a workflow so financial aid, student applications, recommendations, test scores, transfer transcripts, etc. are in a digital folder ready for review.

Now that you’ve identified the goals, you must not forget challenges. Make a list of those, too.

Week 4:

Generate 2016 Roadmap

Your roadmap will be unique, depending on your spot on the ECM decision spectrum. Engaging an advisor can help you better define your plan from the initial purchase through implementation. And, since you have documented your situation and identified wants/needs/problems, you are better positioned to get down to business with an advisor.

Depending on the size of your organization, ECM may start as a department deployment and expand into other areas as you successfully complete a milestone. You may have a SharePoint system that you have identified as having more potential for your operation, and you want to go beyond the collaboration tool toward a business-processing model. Or, your ECM adoption has stalled and you really need more help with training to get users in synch with the change.

You’re Ready. Go!

At this point, you’ve done the review, and have an idea of where you want to be next year. Now, you’re ready to move forward. Your next step should be to research ECM providers, matching your needs to their strengths and deliverables. Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll be well on the path to getting all those pesky ducks in a row.