Replacing Processes, Not People: ECM Drives Positive Change

The need to reconcile change, especially when it is thrust upon us, is a difficult one. When we are the agents of that change, it can be more tolerable. But when we’re not calling the shots ourselves, accepting change can be a threatening, and sometimes frightening, proposition. And this certainly holds true in aligning a dealer’s client with a new enterprise content management platform.

Kurt Meemken,

“Everybody loves change,” observed Kurt Meemken, manager of software solutions for St. Cloud, MN-based Marco, “until it happens to them.”

That notion is certainly magnified when consulting with a client that has been handling its document management paper trail in a specific manner for 20, 30, even 40 years. Convincing them there is a need to capture/corral, sort, tag and push information through a stream of different hands that will save on labor time and money and allow their business to focus on taking care of their own customers while eliminating physical storage and inefficiencies—this is where the rubber meets the road for dealers.

We put a lot of effort into being best in class and knowing the M-Files solution. It’s not a cookie-cutter installation; it’s able to be configured to fit the customer’s organization. But before you can do that, you need to fully understand the customer’s business processes, workflows, etc.

Kurt Meemken, Marco

This also intensifies the need to select an effective ECM/document management and capture solution that can pay big dividends for dealers while deepening relationships beyond the copier/MFP box. Becoming that one throat to choke, the single-source guidance wizard, has enabled Marco and our panel of leading national dealers to excel in this critical offering.

Marco vetted a number of different platforms before selecting M-Files as its go-to solution in 2011. M-Files has a strong partner platform for sales and support, which the dealer found attractive and meshes well with Marco’s team of sales, business analysts and support specialists. After opportunities are identified, Marco’s specialist teams provide demonstrations and perform a deep drill with the client to fully understand their needs and execute the deployment.

“One reason Marco is so successful is we’re a very large player with a high volume of machines in field, so we have a big opportunity with our existing copier customers and IT customers,” Meemken said. “We use M-Files internally, which is a big component as well. Not only do we sell, install and support it, we use it company-wide. We put a lot of effort into being best in class and knowing the M-Files solution. It’s not a cookie-cutter installation; it’s able to be configured to fit the customer’s organization. But before you can do that, you need to fully understand the customer’s business processes, workflows, etc.”

Machine vs. People

One of the subtexts of change management is the fear that a more automated work environment conjures up images of machines on an assembly line, gradually replacing the humans who once tended to the manual labor aspect in a doctor or attorney’s office. That makes it incumbent upon the dealer to show the true value of optimization, according to Dave Clark, vice president of sales and marketing for Las Vegas-based AIS.

Transitioning the conversation from the objections raised by duty elimination is critical toward directing clients toward optimization. This requires a conversation with an expanded group of people beyond just the owner of a given office.

“For some of these people, part of their job is to find, copy and produce files in an attorney’s office,” he said. “In actuality, those kinds of people wear multiple hats, and there’s so much more that they can do. By eliminating these arduous, manual labor-type applications or processes that they have in place, (ECM optimization) now frees them up to do the things that really drive revenue, income and productivity within the business, and that makes their job even more secure. But getting over that takes time, effort and proof.”

AIS has offered various forms of ECM/DCM (document content management) solutions for six years. It relies on DocuWare and Hyland OnBase to address the needs of high-volume document clients in the medical and legal spaces. These verticals require organizations to be more nimble with data management and seek out a full OCR-type solution to be integrated with their own systems.

AIS’ program has garnered steam in the past three-plus years; the company realized it had EMR/ECM competitors that were partnered with most of its customers, while AIS itself provided the copiers and printers. The fear was that, over time, these customers would put more faith into an IT- or ECM-related device vendor. Just offering the copier or printer to these clients constituted a broken solution, according to Clark, and AIS vowed to be that “one throat to choke” in helping clients connect, communicate, collaborate and disseminate information among internal employees and end-user clients.

“Most of the manufacturers are partnering or acquiring DCM/ECM companies, but at the end of day they are trying to provide a solution that increases the boxes they’re going to push out the door,” Clark said. “While that may not be a bad strategy, a dealer like AIS is going to look at what is the total amount of revenue that we’re generating from multiple sources, creating monthly recurring revenues—such as what we do with MNS—how we have that type of model with ECM and the OnBase subscription-type services. They really drive the possibility for our business.”

Seeking the ROI

Brandi Noye,
Doing Better Business

As with any investment dealers shop to their clients, the onus is on proving the financial outlay is going to pay dividends on the back end. Brandi Noye, director of business development for Doing Better Business of Altoona, PA, finds one of the most common objections is the notion that the way a client is trafficking documents and information—flawed though it may be—works for them.
“You have to spend a lot of time covering soft costs, which can be challenging,” she said. “It’s also tough to get them to buy into the initial investment. I’ve had more success with companies that do a quick trial of the software. Once they work with it, they see how easy it is and fall in love with it.”

Doing Better Business had worked with another ECM solution provider for a number of years, but found the level of support provided to be disappointing. So the dealer vetted out a number of titles before choosing Adamero. Noye found this title most attractive because it was an inclusive, non-modular software that didn’t raise the price point with additional modules that were necessary to obtain the full solution. Adamero allows the opportunity to start out small, then grow by user license as the client gets wider and deeper into the offering.

What helps foster ECM conversations is Doing Better Business’ tight-knit relationship with clients, and a strong awareness with their processes. Reps take a client through the initial queries, then hand them off to Noye’s team of specialists. Given that Doing Better Business has seven different offices, Noye finds that holding information-laden webinars is the most productive path toward moving the process forward.

Other Objections

Customer size can play a role in the ease of implementation. Smaller organizations can generally turn on a dime with their decision-making process, but larger clients can be a challenge, notes Brian Sampietro, chief information officer for TGI Office Automation of Brooklyn, NY. Beyond the general hesitance in large technology investment outlays, past negative experiences with software implementations can color the attitude toward ECM initiatives. That’s where TGI’s track record of quality customer care comes in handy.

“We truly care about the success of each project, and we earn the trust of the clients by not just providing a software package, but by guiding them through the entire process of implementing the ECM, from onsite analysis, system design, implementation, through support and ongoing improvements,” Sampietro noted. “We stay involved and even provide personalized training and documentation for each role within the organization to ensure a smooth adoption of the new processes and technology.”

TGI has been serving the ECM needs of its clients for 15 years, backed by a staff of 20-plus software engineers with an average tenure of 10 years. Given the vast technology advances during that period, TGI has been up to the task of improving the features and automations of their products. The dealer relies on a number of solution providers, including DocuWare, Square 9 and M-Files, and works with other partners who create plug-in software or on ramps to the ECM software that increases their capabilities.

Brian Bengtsson,
Adams Remco

At Adams Remco, which has served clients for more than 70 years from its South Bend, IN, headquarters, return on investment is the primary hurdle the dealer faces in implementing ECM solutions, according to Brian Bengtsson, EDM/ECM engineer.

“Effectively, any single business transaction or activity will be marginally improved, and getting customers to realize the cumulative gain, across all touches, can be difficult to translate one-to-one in a spreadsheet,” he said. “Success usually comes down to defining one specific problem, solving it and moving on to the next.”

Adams Remco’s primary success driver comes from its in-house engineer and product specialist, enabling the dealer to use it as well. This enables Adams Remco to demonstrate and speak directly to the advantages and values added by ECM/EDM workflow processes like FileBound, eCopy, and Square 9.

Drilling the Details

Dave Clark, AIS

Gaining an overview of a client’s potential DCM/ECM/BPO, capture and document management needs can be a structured, point-by-point process. Or, it can be an open-ended, layered conversation that burrows through the customer’s workflow and processes to find inefficiencies. Creating order out of chaos, it follows, enables dealers to demonstrate the beauty of a given software package and services.

AIS has devised what it calls a snappy, a list of about a half-dozen questions designed around how a client:

  • Manages its mountain of information;
  • Provides insight to the internal systems currently used;
  • Determines if it is redundant, manual or automated.

Future volume increases are taken into consideration, as are the vertical markets in which the client’s business is based. For verticals such as health care, records must be kept for a period that can range from three to 10 years, dependent upon the office’s medical specialization. For many medical and legal entities, they have storage repositories, and keep hard-copy legacy files offsite in storage facilities for periods longer than required, adding costs to manage these documents. They are lacking a clear document lifecycle and a cohesive document end-of-life strategy. It also adds increased labor burden and costs when needing to retrieve these documents at a later date.

Clark points out that this reverts back to change management and the acceptance of providing a new system for medical and legal firms. They must consider not only implementing a more sophisticated system to battle the paper monster, but also toeing the line with regulatory requirements. This includes HIPAA (medical), Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the latter of which requires financial institutions to detail their information-sharing practices to clients and safeguard sensitive data.

“When we ask those questions about documents, workflows, compliance and accessibility, we become that trusted, valued business technology consultant to help clients not only be more organized, but also able to retrieve customer data more effectively, manage a large volume of information/documents and not waste money by storing files that they don’t need to file anymore, making them more accessible while helping them with their regulatory requirements,” Clark said. “It’s a win-win for everybody. We can actually show them how we can help them cut costs and be more efficient.

“The industry keeps changing and evolving,” he added. “Customers demand more and should expect more from their technology partners. It is incumbent upon companies like AIS to continue to deliver value to our clients. By doing so, we have a deeper and more secure relationship with our clients for many years to come.”

The key to being successful, Clark points out, is that dealers need to be forward-thinking and innovative in the solutions provided to clients. “We continually strive to be relevant and different. By doing so, AIS is building a strong organization to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.”

Catered ECM Solutions

For Doing Better Business, ECM solutions are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Every customer it encounters has its unique needs, Noye adds, and it all centers around fixing holes in the process, eliminating missing paper and bringing electronic optimization to clients for whom the process can be foreign.

“With most implementations that we do, the customer currently doesn’t use any software solution; they’re usually so new to the idea of moving to electronic processes,” she said. “So we’re lucky to be on the front end of the process. We find some leads from account reviews, but we have others who come to us who are curious about it.”

Brian Sampietro, TGI

Bringing order to the typical chaos of an unmanaged share drive and determining the long-term housing needs to help meet regulatory compliance is a great kick-starter for the ECM conversation for TGI. But Sampietro believes the true power of ECM is solving business challenges by optimizing and automating processes. Ferreting out which processes an end-user employs that are currently manual—and determining whether a client experiences delays due to its inability to track progress or notify people effectively when they need to do something—can truly draw attention to the value of an effective implementation.

“Recently, one of our most successful conversation starters has been to ask questions about security requirements, which is becoming more important across all industries as we see breach after breach reported in the news,” he added.

Cross-selling throughout all of its divisions is a source of lead generation for ECM at Marco. But what bolsters the conversation, according to Meemken, is the fact that M-Files is configurable to the needs of the client, without the need for extra modules and their associated premiums. Consultations can yield important information such as how a client handles invoices within multiple departments, along with the reporting needs for information inside of their ECM solution. Security requirements and access to records, along with storage methods, can also further the conversation.

“When we look at the manufacturing sector, we look at compliances like ISO 9001 certification,” Meemken said. “Do they need CFR Part 11 compliance? Those are all the hot buttons for M-Files to be able to come in and help the customer obtain ISO certification and meet their compliance needs. It really comes down to processes, security and compliance.”

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.