Beware of ‘Workarounds’ When It’s Time to Ditch the Outdated Systems

I learned to type in eighth grade, and managed to do pretty well with speed and accuracy since I was a product of 10 years of piano lessons. Each of us had a manual typewriter, but throughout the year each student would do a turn at one of the two IBM Selectric typewriters. No more pounding the keys or losing your finger placement to hit the manual carriage return. Such excitement for an electric typewriter!

With personal computing taking over, electric typewriters were replaced with “word processing” on PCs. Long gone are giant desktop models along with Lotus Notes, WordPerfect and MS-DOS as technology propelled us forward. When you reflect on how far we have come from manual processes with just keyboard devices and the incorporation of software into the hardware to make them smart (and us smart, too), it is hard to believe the speed at which change occurs.

For businesses, the question becomes, are you moving forward with technology or dragging your feet? We embrace newer technology at home as we upgrade smartphones, buy smart televisions and connect our home security, heating/cooling, and fitness monitoring to our mobile devices, but we don’t always see the same rapid technology adoption in the workplace. With that lack of action, we miss the advantages that upgraded systems and office automation provide or we sit with an opportunity lost because we have not utilized our systems to their fullest.

Let’s take a look at some opportunities you have to make changes in your technology:

BUSINESS GROWTH: Are you still holding on to a first-generation Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system that has not scaled with your organization’s growth? It’s not just outgrowing a system, but there is the risk of patching an old system with workarounds to get the functionality that you need.

You build a behemoth unique to your organization and become locked into a system that looks like no other. This precludes you from the ease of universal updates and modular upgrades that integrate seamlessly. You want to achieve compatibility, integration, unified views and streamline operations.

Tip: If you are already at this point and know your system is holding back your operational efficiency, take the time to explore what’s new with ECM and find a trusted advisor to guide you through the discovery process. Only have document management in place? It’s time to upgrade your enterprise.

CORRECT MISTAKES: Not everyone buys the right thing. If you have invested in a system that no one uses, where adoption has stalled due to lack of training or you have deployed several systems doing parallel operations but have not given your organization the streamlined operation you had hoped, it’s time to look for a new system.

Tip: Work with your team of stakeholders to build a roadmap. Get outside help. If you can’t get a solid path for course correction, you need to explore other options. No one wants to put resources (time, money, relationships, or talent) into perpetually spinning their wheels.

START THAT STALLED EXPANSION: Many times there is more potential than you realize. You don’t know what you don’t know. For instance, with SharePoint, sometimes organizations use only collaboration features when it was their intent to expand their use of SharePoint over time to do business processing. Is it a lack of training? Is it lack of user adoption? Or maybe you just don’t know.

Often, SharePoint is deployed in many departments across an organization, but there has been little direction to keep the company unified and moving forward.

Tip: Identify where you are on the SharePoint Spectrum and explore the next step. Employ SharePoint consultants, visit SharePoint Saturdays or your region’s SharePoint workshops. Be in the know. 

IT’S ABOUT THE FUTURE: We are starting the 18th year of the 21st century. Technology moves fast, as we all know, so keep your organization in sync with the operational improvements that ECM has to offer. Catch up first, and then stay up to date. You can have fond memories of old technology, but your organization will benefit more from adopting better solutions to save you time and money.

Joanne Novak is a program manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. and is responsible for program development with the company’s Business Intelligence groups, including the Intelligent Information Management (IIM) practice. Her responsibilities are to build sales and customer-facing educational and thought leadership insights as well as strategic initiatives for IIM.