Where the Money Lives Series, Part 7: Fill ‘er Up! – Moving Content into a Document Management Solution
One of the most frequent objections you’ll hear from a prospective Document Management System client is “we have so much paper and our shared drives are such a mess…we’ll never get there.” Don’t accept that – it’s quitter talk, and certainly acceptance of that company’s ultimate failure. Document messes don’t clean themselves up, they get worse EVERY YEAR. The time to act is always sooner rather than later. The good news is there are ways to help even the most ‘messy’ of companies, and a good Document Management company will be able to light the way.
Content population fits into four boxes, and each is an opportunity to help your clients. Content can be classified as ‘existing’ or ‘future’, as well as ‘physical’ or ‘digital’. I’m guessing definitions of these aren’t really necessary, but suffice it to say, every company has existing paper and digital content, and in the future, more paper and digital content will arrive. All of it must be added into the system. There are different technologies and techniques that will be used and each is discussed below.
Regardless of which box the need for capture fits into, every document entering the Document Management system requires meta-data to be attached. Instead of preaching ‘Document Management best practices’ with meta-data, just keep the 6 benefits of meta-data in mind every time you’re adding it…Meta-data ensures success with the following:
i. Search: Find and refine documents among millions.
ii. Security: Control who can see, change and delete documents.
iii. Retention: Ensure documents are kept, and deleted, based on laws and corporate practices.
iv. Reporting: See what’s going on within your documentation world – they make up 70% of your corporate information!
v. Automation: Move documents through business processes.
vi. Integration: Connect your documents to your data systems for the full picture.
Each category of capture is described below.
Backfile Scanning: Working through the physical file room is usually no small task. For companies who require access to physical documents for routine / operational purposes, there is a positive return on investment to convert paper to digital content. The job is larger than running pages through a high-speed scanner though, as each document must be indexed (for the 6 reasons above). A proper document capture product should be used. This is where someone usually suggests ‘getting a summer student’ to do the scanning. The combination of high document volumes (requiring expensive professional equipment and software) and the length of time it takes to do manual entry of meta-data (instead of using professional grade extraction techniques and capture experience) prescribes the need for an imaging bureau to perform the backfile scanning. Often this scanning is done off site at the imaging company, however some companies will bring the scanners to the paper so they never leave the premises. Either way, your clients will benefit from a fast and professional backfile conversion.
Point Forward Scanning: Paper will continue to arrive into the company the day after the backfile scanning is complete. If you don’t have systems and processes ready to ingest this content, your Document Management system will be out of date by the end of the week. A common mistake companies make is to assume that a Multi Function Device can handle all point forward scanning…which it can’t. MFP’s are good for ‘one-off’ / small volume scanning, so encourage your team members to scan and index their single documents – such as a newly signed contract or a competitor’s product brochure. But don’t make anyone scan hundreds and thousands of documents at a time with an MFP. If you’re still taking in large collections of paper (for example, paper invoices or packing slips), set up an imaging solution with a proper professional grade scanner and capture software (to make the meta-data capture fast and easy). As a service provider, you can install, configure, train and maintain the imaging environment for your customer.
Content Migrations: Moving large volumes of content from shared drives and other content management systems into the new Document Management solution is potentially more challenging than converting paper. Although these documents are already digital, (there is no need to convert the format), the issue lies in how to best assign the meta-data. Most shared drives lack consistent document naming and file structures, and old content management systems have usually gone out of favor BECAUSE of poor indexing practices…so you don’t really know what you have. The good news is there are a number of approaches to accomplishing this task:
a. Migration Tools: There are software tools out there that have been created specifically for moving digital document collections (for example Sharegate and Metalogix). These tools are capable of mapping share drive structures (to capture some of the meta-data) as well as pulling document properties (ex. document titles and other tags) to build the required meta-data. They enable you to manually enter additional tags and they handle the error logs necessary to ensure every document is moved into the system. The configuration services, as well as the operation services, are revenue opportunities.
b. Scripting: Sometimes custom scripts need to be written to gather and index digital documents (and move them into the Document Management system). These instances occur when there are available data sources to assist with the meta-data capture and/or there is logic (and consistency) embedded in the current document names. Pulling apart document titles to create meta-data isn’t the easiest approach, but sometimes it's all that’s available. Your clients will value your help if these services are required.
c. Manual Entry: Yes, the old fashioned way. Using a tool that will allow for the operator to preview a document, determine what it is, and then index it is a service similar to back file conversion. This is a service most of your clients would rather pay for vs. having their own employees do it.
Multiple Tools and Techniques: Capturing digital content that will arrive in the future is a multi-pronged strategy. Consider how many different ways digital contents ‘arrives’: Email and attachments, drop off ‘locations’ such as FTP sites, company email addresses (such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’) and of course, each team member creating their own content outside of the Document Management system. Two core approaches will ensure future digital content is captured in a timely and accurate manner.
a. Small Volume: For the small volume content (individually created documents and team member level email for example), you’ll need to provide each person with the ability to add their own content to the system. Email tools that integrate with the Document Management solution (for example, Harmon.ie or Collego) are valuable, as they map to the solution, maintaining the meta-data model already established. Of course, showing people how to drag and drop (and index!) documents within the system is also critical. Your opportunity is to sell, configure and train people on how to use these tools. (Also work with your client’s management to ensure everyone understands that for certain kinds of content, it’s each person’s responsibility to add it to the system).
b. High Volume: If you’ve moved away from paper, and are receiving high document volumes in electronic form (on FTP sites, corporate email inboxes, faxes or other drop off libraries), you’ll need tools that ‘watch’ these places and ingest the content into the system. These tools can be third party products (such as Kofax or Captiva) or scripted event receivers (custom built by you). Either way, this is a workflow solution that will automate the capture and movement of content into the system. Your clients will need you to design, build, train and support these solutions.
Many companies forget to include capture and migration services within their Document Management project budgets. Some sales people are reluctant to raise the topic, as they know they’ll be adding to the project cost and effort. However, these are critical services, and by raising these matters early in the process, you’ll demonstrate your competence in the space, as well as your abilities to provide sustainable solutions.
Running an imaging bureau and/or offering content migration services is a great way to add value for your clients. These services are critical to ensuring the Document Management system is current and relevant on ‘go live day’, and that it stays that way over time. This is yet another way to make money, and have your customers thank you for your service.