By Dave Poyser, Director, Xpress Document Solutions
In a classic 1999 episode of The Simpsons, called ‘Homer To the Max’, Homer changes his name to ‘Max Power’. At one point during the episode, Homer turns to Bart and Lisa and says “Kids, from now on, there are three ways of doing things; the right way, the wrong way and the Max Power way”, to which Bart replies “Isn’t that just the wrong way?” and Homer replies – “Yes, but faster!”.
If you’re a long time Simpsons fan, then you’ll no doubt remember this episode (and if you’re not, why not…?). Either way, you’re no doubt wondering what this has to do as an introduction to a document management blog post. If you bear with me, all should become clear.
I’ve been a consultant working with Document Management and Workflow (BPM) solutions for almost a decade and a half (before that, my dissertation for my degree investigated the feasibility of a paperless office within a school environment – going so far as to create a fully functional Java application for managing document creation and filing on a school network), so it’s fair to say I’m fairly well experienced in my role. Over the years I’ve dealt with myriad scenarios for clients involving document management solutions that have been varied and interesting, but some of the biggest challenges have been creating viable solutions for the internal systems I’ve been working on. Mainly because internal spend vs actual requirements very rarely stack up, so creating fully working solutions on shoestring budgets became a part of the role.
Recently though, I was faced with the prospect of starting my new venture Xpress Document Solutions. This business would be leveraging my strengths as a consultant as well as operating a small scanning bureau, and if that’s not enough to keep me busy, there’s also a software development side to the business. With plan in hand, and waiting clients, I quickly set about putting the foundations in place for my document management strategy, using the knowledge I’d acquired in my previous role.
And this is where I experienced my ‘Max Power’ moment (see, you thought I’d forgotten).
I’d (naively) assumed that this new business would operate in a similar fashion to my previous employment and my complacency (masquerading as confidence) in my own abilities allowed me to proceed at rapid pace down the wrong path. The strategy was flawed because I’d not taken the proper time to evaluate the needs of my new business.
What was at the heart of the problem? That would be that Xpress Document Solutions should be considered a micro business. But the shoestring budget solutions I was hurriedly implementing were designed around a very rigid SME configuration, a bespoke solution if you please. If you’ve been around long enough though, you’ll know that bespoke solutions don’t lend themselves to being ported to new environments very well, and in this case, it was the inefficiency in the processes that were the headache.
In my haste to be operational, I’d forgone a full requirements analysis, the cornerstone of any successful document management implementation. The very thing that I emphasise the most with my document management clients, especially those that are at ground zero.
If I’d a) not realised my mistake and b) done something about them, then this could have been an absolute disaster for my new business. Thankfully I did both. As quickly as I’d gone down the ‘Max Power’ route, I’d called time on everything I was doing with regards to the document management processes and reverted to a minimalistic file share scenario as a short term measure while I revisited my requirements analysis, thoroughly.
While I’ve had the time to reflect on these actions (this all happened at the start of the year) I’ve found that the 5Ps is pretty much the perfect antidote to the ‘Max Power’ situation. Because – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance! Anyway, this reflection time has also manifested itself in writing time. In a forthcoming post here on the DMC, you’ll find my thoughts on the whole micro vs SME document management strategies.
So if you’re about to embark on your document management project, I implore you to revisit your requirements analysis just one more time. If you’ve already started, and some of what I’ve written has started to ring alarm bells – don’t be afraid to put a break in the project. Sure, you may miss a deadline, but the memory of that will quickly fade. A botched installation and a world of pain for your users won’t be #justsaying