Touch Points

By Mike Morper posted 11-07-2010 11:40


Those seeking to streamline their document processes have every right to be frustrated. There is an unreasonable disconnect between the seemingly simple desire for information control and the complicated nature of technology that promises—yet often fails—to deliver it. People simply want a secure way to receive, store and later retrieve all the bits of stuff that feed their daily business transactions.

However, those who read my previous post can understand that simple tasks (such as counting all the many forms, formats and places information is apt to arrive, and the countless tools already in place intending to help) quickly expand to become quite complicated. Merely categorizing all the ways (and formats) information enters an organization is challenging enough. Actually reining it in a little in order to benefit from the useful bits of content can be downright daunting. Like most things, it’s easier to break it down into manageable pieces.

It may help to establish the fact that information—whether in the form of incoming documents, stored content, or fragments of both—generally falls into two categories. It either touches or it points. For example, incoming mail that includes invoice payments first touches the accounts receivable department. Or, those same payments may arrive electronically, with an e-mail link that simply points to where the transaction originated, and where the dollars were sent.

Likewise, clerical staff in the back office and customer facing agents in the front-office alike either touch the information (e.g. new account applications) or point (sometimes quite literally) to where it is or to where it (or the customer) should go. The trick is to ensure that information is touching the right spot, or data-seekers are pointed in the right direction.

Understanding the various “touch” and “point” touch points (so to speak) is very helpful in mapping an organization’s content flow. Surprisingly, high value content to one department is often found languishing unheeded (untouched) just around the corner in another; mapping the touch points will help ferret it out.

  • Which process needs what data?
  • Who sees it first?
  • Most importantly, where else might that same information be useful?

Fortunately, technology is available to help. And it need not be complicated. Rarely is it necessary (or prudent) to copy and send content to all the many places where it’s needed. (And who really knows who or where it’s going to be needed until it actually is?) Better is to establish clear guidelines for where content resides, and then simply point to that location. Who touches it? What technology points to it?

Of course, sometimes you’re better off doing both. Say you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, and you finally stoop to the lowliest of insults—stopping to ask for directions. Would you rather ask the person behind the bullet-proof glass to point which direction to travel or would you prefer to have a map you can actually touch? Thankfully, GPS technology does both. 

Similar technology, which offers the capabilities to both touch and point, is available for document processes. Modern multifunction peripherals offer keypad access to direct content to where it’s most needed, while pointing to that location for secure retrieval. These functions—whether in an MFP, fax server, or document scanner—can also be fully automated, which provides a third dimension to touch and point: the ability to act.

#mfp #ScanningandCapture #Capture #businessprocessoptimization #fax