Taking Stock

By Mike Morper posted 10-27-2010 08:46



Every year or so, insurance companies send us reminders to inventory our household assets. They kindly remind us that in the event of disaster, it’s nearly impossible to remember how many shirts were in each closet, or how many tools were in the garage. They remind us, because they know that it’s nearly impossible to accurately quantify how much stuff we really have. I’m betting the insurers feel pretty good about the fact that few of us actually do this. Even though with today’s simple digital cameras, it’s a relatively minor task to go through each room, open a few drawers, snap shots, and store the photos in a secure location. Few of us do it, though even fewer still could close their eyes and accurately count all the things they own.

It makes you wonder what other assets we hold that have become so much a part of the background clutter that we tend to overlook them. This applies not only to the tools and technology of our information-centric world, but also to the very information itself. How well do we understand exactly what we’ve got?

Come to think of it, how well do we really know the processes themselves? Surprisingly few otherwise information-savvy organizations have even a rough understanding of their current work processes.

Here’s an exercise to consider. Take a step back and look at your work. Pretend for a moment that you had to describe all the ways information comes into your work process.

  • What departments does it touch?
  • How does it arrive?
  • What tools and technologies are there in place to receive and process your data? How does it travel?
  • Who touches it and who does it touch?
  • What is its ultimate goal?

If you’re really ambitious, you might even dare to ask, “what does it all cost?”

Start simply. Make a list of any and all of the document capture devices in a single department—copiers, scanners, fax-machines and MFPs are all information assets. Then list all the places information may be coming from, or the format it takes. List the vendor names and model numbers of hardware. (Wow, so many?) Consider itemizing how many people are qualified (or authorized) to use each device. (Ironically, those capable of using information technology are often not specifically authorized to see the information itself, and vice-versa).

No wonder this isn’t done often, it’s pretty quickly an overwhelming task. It’s also quite valuable. By simply writing down the many information “touch points,” redundancies are exposed and an understanding of the process itself unfolds. From there—dare you hope—opportunities for process efficiencies may be revealed.

When you’re done, you may have several lists—a hardware list, a list of data types, a “who’s involved” list and a crude workflow of how information is moving. Hang on to those lists, you’ll want them the next time when we discuss how to manage these "touch points" in and out of your business. 

#MFD #distributedcapture #documentworkflow #NSi #ScanningandCapture #businesstransformation #mfp