If Document Management is so brilliant, why isn’t everybody doing it?

By David Tyler, Editor of Document Manager Magazine
Dave Tyler Caricature_011013

As Editor of a long-established print magazine whose sole raison d’etre is the DM/ECM marketplace, I am generally expected to be enthusiastic, even evangelical, about the concepts and technologies we champion.  But sometimes I find myself wondering if the industry exists in a bubble, effectively out of sight of the rest of the world.

While we congratulate ourselves on this even cooler software, or that even faster scanner, most people, doing most jobs, in most businesses, are blissfully unaware that document management exists.

I heard recently about an organisation – which for soon-to-be-obvious reasons I have no intention of naming here – which had an extraordinarily clunky process in place for invoice handling.  It involved a bizarre combination of printing out email attachments (using MFPs – multifunction peripheral – with scanning capability) and posting them to a service centre for scanning. There are plenty of other examples out there, some of them even dafter, of businesses that are totally missing the point when it comes to the potential benefits of DM, even today with the industry as mature as it undoubtedly is.

Many businesses think nothing of having highly skilled accounts staff spend half their day doing manual data entry.  This isn’t just anecdotal – the recent AIIM survey ‘Winning the paper wars’ found that among companies with over 5,000 employees, 13% have no paper free processes in place at all. A whopping 29% of mid-sized companies describe themselves even now as ‘all paper’. This was a survey of AIIM member organisations, remember. Imagine what those figures might be in organisations that aren’t actively trying to embrace ECM concepts.

This surely isn’t just a case of ‘some people need a good shake’ – the industry is doing something significantly wrong if such a strong message still isn’t getting across to a potentially huge market. I believe there is still a need for simple educational activities to sell the benefits and ROI of these technologies, and I believe that whoever gets it right will have customers beating a path to their door.  Customers aren’t stupid – DM vendors just need to understand their business needs and speak their language.

One thought on “If Document Management is so brilliant, why isn’t everybody doing it?

  1. One of the main reasons why ‘everyone’ is not doing it is down to who supply these companies with the technology. In the main, copiers MFP’s and the like, are provided by copier-sales type companies, or hardware providers. The people doing the selling tend to be copier sales-people who generally, have not the faintest clue about document management/workflow/ECM/output management, or ‘value-based’ and consultative sales. Even if they were inclined or capable, they are not encouraged to lean more as they are compensated only on the ‘boxes’ they shift. They are also selling commodities to ‘buyers’. To step up to providing the types of system you mentioned would require an entirely different skillset and a sales team capable of presenting a business case at CFO-Level. The copier providers don’t see the business opportunity, and even if they did, because these companies are generally run by ex-copier sales people who themselves don’t understand the proposition, they wouldn’t pay the salaries required by someone who actually does know about such things. It is one of the most forehead-slappingly dumb missed business opportunities. The company that seizes the nettle and actually employs someone who can put this together as a business proposition, will make millions.

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