That ROI was not where I last left it

By Chris Riley, ECMp, IOAp posted 08-17-2010 14:54


For large companies, it’s the only way to get executive sponsorship, for mid-sized business it’s a way to win praise, and for small business it’s the way to grow.  ROI.  ROI is a huge driver in IT decision making, sometimes the only.  However, ROI very often with enterprise technology is a moving target. 

ROI is not a bad driver, but when mislead it can cause IT departments to make very bad decisions.  When it comes to document imaging the value seems obvious, but there are times when the cost of advanced capture, for example, outweigh the cost savings they seem to bring.

Below are what I call hidden value propositions associated with document imaging, that often outweigh any hard ROI calculations you can come up with.  It’s good for organizations to consider these in conjunction with the traditional calculation of ROI.

eDiscovery Ready

Lawsuits happen.  As a potentially very large future cost, even small organizations should be aware of how to save money if litigation arises. Not only do they cost money, courts will expect organizations to produce data accurately and quickly.  You don’t want the “other” guy to find incriminating documents you own, but can’t access. You will want to be able to produce that data at a low cost, and not more information than you have too. Document automation and OCR technologies are a critical part of this. Paper in file cabinets are very costly to review and collect for a case, but OCRd documents that are properly filed are easy to search and retrieve. This makes you eDiscovery ready with a lower cost and greater efficiency. The value is a reduced cost and risk when and if a lawsuit happens.


SOX, HIPPA, DOT, whatever it is, you have compliance issues. Without technology being compliant is a huge cost.  Add to that paper documents. Document automation technologies help companies become compliant faster and more accurately. Instead of having large staff to manage compliance, they can dedicate computer time to do the data-entry work on documents having compliance risk, and a small staff to maintain their presence. Similar to eDiscovery this preparedness mitigates potential risk and cost associated with not being prepared.

Improved Knowledge Worker Efficiency

Are your employees doing the job they were hired for? Very often organizations have salaried employees whose job description is not data-entry but is doing data-entry work. It's often overlooked because the data-entry portion of their job is ad-hoc and not at tremendous volume at any one time. When the data-entry task is removed from these employees plates, they are able to dedicate more time to their job responsibilities and increase their efficiency. This is most often seen with accounts payable clerks. The value of this is that the salary paid to these employees is now used on more critical thinking tasks.

Reduced Workers Comp Claims

Any repeated task is hard on workers. This sometimes results in injuries and insurance claims.  For large organizations the lesser thought about value of document automation is reduction in workers compensation claims associated with document handling and entry. Companies with large data-entry staff can dramatically reduce claims associated with data-entry especially such as carpal tunnel, back pains, and eye strain. The staff's duties will shift to more body friendlily activities that are less redundant. Every year companies are spending a lot of money on workers compensation claims, and the administration of them. This reduces that cost and risk.


Reduced storage cost should be in your basic document imaging ROI calculation, but it’s often not.  Often even after documents are imaged they cannot be destroyed, but chances are the location they live is more costly then the location they could be living.  File-cabinets residing in utilized office space reduce the efficiency of that space and come and a square foot premium.  By imaging these documents and moving to off-site lower cost storage companies are saving money, and help increase the effective this of the rate they are paying for productivity space.  This is an obvious one, but I thought I should remind you.

Don’t steer clear of a traditional ROI, but don’t let it run the show when it comes to IT decision making.  The value of the enterprise software should be clear, but organizations need to also be aware that the value is not always obvious.

#OCR #ROI #documentimaging #compliance #knowledgeworkers #ScanningandCapture #dataentry #storage #e-discovery