Imaging: Why Before What

By Helen Streck posted 02-03-2012 12:03


This article was co-authored by Scott Murchison, SVP Consulting Services for Kaizen InfoSource. 

I hear from clients all the time that they’re rushing to begin imaging everything so they can load it all into SharePoint and quickly access that information from their desktop. I have to laugh when I think about all the organizations that jump into the idea of “imaging” without recognizing that paper doesn’t jump on the copy machine and magically scan itself. It requires labor…human labor. There is a cost to imaging that scares so many people away, and yet there is positive value in managed access to business information.

No one ever stops to ask why they’re converting the information; is there a value and/or return on our investment? Is it so important that all of our human resources records are digitized, or are we better served imaging our accounts receivable and payable? The answer takes consideration in how the information is accessed and used.  What information has high traffic? There is no right answer; there is only the right answer for your organization.

The first “Why?” is to ask if it is the most accessed, most valuable, or most important information in the organization. Information, whether physical or in electronic form, has specific value in planning for a disaster. Disaster recovery planning is valuable to the life and sustaining health of a company.

You can begin an imaging initiative by undertaking the effort to create a Vital Records Protection Program. Determining what is the most critical information for your business to be back up and running is the best target for imaging. Am I a multi-national corporation with payroll needs even outside the disaster zone? How do we reach our employees? Did we save the employee contact lists? Are we a manufacturer who needs to protect our patents? Look at your business and ask some simple questions about the real value of the information and that is the place to start.

The next “Why?” to answer is can we run our business more efficiently and cost-effectively by digitizing certain—or all—information of the company? Improved business processes help speed information flow through the organization. If you can prove that accessing payments electronically can speed their collection, you have found an area that is perfect for selling the idea of imaging.

There is other “Whys” that can be asked before the “What.”  Most organizations do not ask the questions in the right order.  First determine why you need imaging or an ECM solution then the “What” becomes more apparent.

Only when you have decided why you need the information can you determine the best ECM solution for your organization. The ECM solution should fit the needs of your business—that’s the “Why?”


#process #imaging