When ECM is bad for document imaging

By Chris Riley, ECMp, IOAp posted 11-09-2010 21:27


When you spend 10 years living and breathing document imaging you become distributed when your niece calls your document scanner a printer, or you’re forced by a large bank to send a fax.  However, nothing is more disheartening then when I encounter companies that can clearly benefit from document imaging, but resist it at all cost. Is document imaging ahead of its time?  Is document imaging to complex?  Is there no real value? So I’ve made it a goal to understand this mentality, and my findings surprised me.

Clearly when I see or told about the hordes of file cabinets and organization poses. How they are just taking up space, and hard to traverse I get excited about the document imaging possibilities. But why is it that companies don’t end up sharing my excitement?  What I have come up with is several common scenarios.  What they all have in common is that traditional ECM is preventing document imaging from shining.

Scenario one - “The lost Knowledge worker”.  The committee, often IT, which is in charge of selecting an ECM solution rarely involves the knowledge workers inundated with paper related task.  The person who is frustrated with searching the file cabinets daily or responsible for applying retention schedules to physical records.  While the ECM committee is aware of the paper very often they have not felt the pain, nor understood the gain.

Scenario two – “What paper”.  Either driven by technology stubbornness or the result of such an active use of paper that it’s forgotten, certain organizations believe they have already done away with paper. Occasionally this is true, and usually a part of some unique business process.  But for the vast majority when you ask enough questions you quickly get directions to where the file cabinets are hidden, and paper cuts generated.

Scenario Three - “Ummm what is ECM”.  This is the most common scenario.  Document imaging is just ahead of its time. Very often before successful document imaging takes place, there has to be successful ECM.  The number of companies that are deploying ECM may be getting up there, but those that have good user adoption are very low.  For this reason, even though document imaging is on their list, maybe even a top priority. They can never reach it.  Sometimes the first step to talking to a company about document imaging is to talk to them about their ECM solution.

I was recently at a client.  I was brought in to explore ECM functionality in SharePoint.  Number three on their wish list was document imaging.  So in a week’s time you would expect I would cover it.  What actually happened is we barely got past Taxonomy and Content Types, a key element in the successful storage of imaged documents.

The good news is I can stop taking it personally.  The bad news is there is great technology out there that could be doing wonders for organizations, but it’s usually under layers of ECM planning, adoption, or feature overload.  While document imaging technologies can span beyond paper into the world of classification, screen scrapping, even robotics, the majority of the organizations out there can still benefit from simple document scanning.  The trick is getting them to see it, and then focus on it.

#ScanningandCapture #documentimaging #ECM