In the fall of 2014, I got a new furnace and disconnected my air conditioning until spring. When spring came, I was ready to refill my cooling system and get it going, but I learned that the manufacturer was going to stop making that coolant the following year. AND, by the way, the old air conditioner was not compatible with my new furnace. Would you do a workaround for one year or just upgrade to something new?
Incremental Gains – At Home. The winter of 2014-2015 was incredibly harsh in the Northeast with multiple snowstorms dumping multiple feet of snow accompanied by polar vortex-driven frigid temperatures. Despite that greater need for heat, after installing the new furnace, my monthly heating bill decreased by 46 percent, which just goes to show how inefficient my old system was.
At Work. Recognizing the inefficiencies in your current business processing system will enable you to capture incremental savings within your operations. If you cannot envision the quantitative and qualitative gains that your organization can reap – especially at the department level – you need to work with an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) advisor now to discover how a new system will create value.
- Eliminating repetitive, low-value tasks will boost employee moral as they are redirected to higher value tasks. For instance, have your company use digital requests for purchase orders and have invoices submitted digitally. Your accounting department will be relieved that they will not have to spend their time wrangling paper and can redirected efforts to get checks out and payments in.
- Improve the customer experience with more friendly processes. For instance, why make patients fill out forms that you’ll need to store as paper files? Use a tablet that electronically captures the information so you can automatically load it into your centralized repository. Let office staff speak to customers face-to-face for personal issues versus processing routine forms. (And, with an electronic record, you can save time for the patients who have the need for return visits.)
- Automate workflows to accelerate repetitive tasks and build in measurable, transparent-to-management accountability. For instance, route your Accounts Payable purchase orders to approvers for electronic review and esignature. Automatically escalate approvals to the next level when people are late to respond, eliminating the roadblocks to stop your workflow. You set the business rules. You are in control.
If you are like me, living with a working but inefficient system, you may be missing an opportunity to upgrade and realize those incremental gains with efficiency. You need an advisor to direct you to a better solution (in my case, my plumber planted the seed about “Energy Star” furnaces available now.)
ROI – Return on Investment – At Home. I ultimately took the plunge and installed the new air conditioner; I just could not fathom tinkering with my new furnace to accommodate an old cooling system for one year or a longer term. My ROI on the entire system is already paying off. Plus, I highly value my immediate qualitative gains: better performance (cooler quicker), less risk (no sudden breaks in service from a worn-out system) and a brand new system untouched by makeshift workarounds.
At Work. You cannot overlook the qualitative or soft gains as part of your ROI. Your processes may not be ‘broken’, but inefficient. With a plan and a vision, you can anticipate the company change and set up metrics to measure – both quantitative and qualitative.
For instance, with ECM:
- In AP: accelerate invoice processing four-fold with the same staff plus make them happier with no paper and solid accountability. This frees them from chasing down paper or people and they save time on retrieving documents and eliminate the cost of physical storage for records.
Perhaps, you too do not want (additional) makeshift fixes to your legacy system. We cannot forget about the qualitative value along with the quantitative benefits when looking at Enterprise Content Management solutions.
Efficiency – At Home. I could not deny my improved efficiency with my new systems.
At Work. The change that ECM provides in worker productivity will give your operation the boost it needs to transform your operation.
Risk – At Home. I knew my system was old, and I worried each year that it would break at an inopportune time. I wanted to plan for my upgrade. This partially worked for me – planned furnace, unplanned air-conditioner.
At Work. The risk extends beyond a broken process. With ECM, you reduce your risk of being out of compliance with regulations and responding more quickly to regulatory requests.
IoT – Internet of Things At Home. My next step is getting a smart thermostat. Before you know it, my house will be connected from its WiFi router to its lights, locks, heating/cooling and appliances! The connectivity of the future will require all kinds of upgrades, but will give me more control for minute adjustments and greater efficiency.
At Work. Upgrading your business processes with ECM is a start. Your new system will improve efficiency, but as you integrate with your core systems and disparate systems – you will relish the connectivity.
And, your next step? That will depend on the next technological leap forward with connectivity for your office of the future. But, if you haven’t investigated ECM for your business yet, start now.
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.