Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What You Don’t Know about Case Management Could be Hurting Your Business

What You Don’t Know about Case Management
Could be Hurting Your Business

By Paul Szemplinski, Co-Founder and CEO,
CAPSYS Technologies. 

Today, only a mouse click separates you from a problem your customer may be experiencing. And usually that click is an email message – the preferred method of communicating.

A customer email is a signal for help and an opportunity to build your relationship.  If your response exceeds expectations, chances are you have retained the customer and increased loyalty.  If email messages are not responded to promptly, or in a way that exposes your company as inefficient, your reputation is at risk.

In an era where customer satisfaction is expressed on social media, how your business processes email must reflect this new reality. 


Enter Case Management – something that exists at every company that interacts with customers over email – whether it’s called ‘case management,’ customer service or incident management.

Email systems by themselves are not an effective tool for managing customer service.  Here’s why:
  • Emails that go into one Inbox are only visible to the employee with access to that Inbox. 
  • Decision-makers may not know about the email and the issues contained within, how or if it was responded to.
  “Case Management software acts as a workflow engine, automating cases more efficiently than emails.”

  •  A single employee or manager can’t get a holistic look at the totality of interactions the client might have had with the various segregated departments within the organization. 

Senior managers now face the question of how to reconfigure the enterprise to efficiently and effectively respond to the growing volume of customer emails, and their service expectations. Increasing server capacity is a common solution.  Yet the inherent open-ended nature of email requires more than adding capacity and better “managing” the Inbox.  

The Case for Case Management Software

Case Management is a software module added on top of an existing enterprise content management (ECM) system that is also integrated with an organization’s main line of business system (such as SAP, JD Edwards, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.). It acts as a workflow engine that automates and moves each ‘case’ throughout an organization in a more efficient and effective manner than can be accomplished through individual emails.

Before the module is added, current steps taken by staff, and the systems for handling incoming emails, are reviewed in detail.  These interactions are then mapped to the Case Management software:

  • Who is responsible for various types of incoming ‘cases’ – this may be an Inbox, or a reply to a “Contact Us’” link on your website
  • How your company is now managing these inputs
  • How different issues are categorized
  • What action staff members take for each category, such as a new order, a compliant; checking the status of an order, etc.
  • How they are monitored, measured and held accountable to ensure proper handling

An important part of any ECM system, especially with a Case Management module, is how data and documents are captured. Most companies deal with multiple document types: Word, Excel, PDFs, and TIFF files. Disparate file types can, however, present a problem to ECM systems. 

  “Everything related to a case is automatically assembled, providing a complete, 360 degree view of the incident or case."



Some document capture systems, such as CAPSYS CAPTURE ONLINE, will ‘normalize’ or standardize the content into one consistent format (PDFs only, for example) as well as extract pertinent meta-data and content applicable to the case issuer. Having a standard format enables all data to be more easily handled. 
Without normalizing content, you can imagine the inefficiencies:  Say a customer sends multiple file formats with an email.  Staff must either save or print out each file and tie them to a customer record, then pass all of this on to the appropriate person to handle.  This process likely will also require users to log into other line of business systems to research transactions, such as order history, credit information, returns, purchase orders, packing slips, etc.

By contrast, with normalized content, the files move seamlessly to the Case Management module, and are ready to be acted upon.  All the prior case history is automatically pre-fetched and assembled in a logical manner, giving the case manager a complete, 360 degree view of the incident or case.  

Once all the files are standardized and the Case Management module is up and running:
  • As soon as an email hits the Inbox, it is taken out of the email box and placed into the Case Management software
  • A ticket or case management tracking number is automatically assigned, and used thereafter throughout the process 
  • The email and its associated attachments are automatically converted or normalized (into perhaps PDF form) so the ‘case’ and its associated attachments are completely visible to the entire group that handles inquiries
  • The proper workflow for each type of ‘case’ is then initiated by the case management automation software 
  • Users can now easily access all the related data and any attachments, then interact with different internal systems (orders, credits, shipping, etc.) to take the appropriate action -- all with supervision and oversight to ensure quality customer service is maintained 

Integration between internal systems in one place empowers staff to work smarter, providing a 360 degree view into all the information needed to make decisions.

  “Unlike email, Case Management software gives management a dashboard tool with a graphical view of staff actions, processes, systems and outcomes.”


Email Can’t Provide Operational Metrics, and Other Benefits

Unlike email, Case Management software gives management a dashboard tool with a graphical view of staff actions, processes, systems and outcomes.  For instance, the software can report how many complaints were received; the number of customer issues employees handled; and the metrics on completed cases.

Overall, the software becomes a performance measurement tool, enabling your company to offer the right level of service, targeted to the right areas, in the most cost-efficient manner.
Through an ECM system configured with document capture that normalizes all content and a Case Management module, business managers can create competitive advantage on a number of fronts:  

  • Simplified process for handling emails.  Customers experience a speedy response by an empowered staff that says, “We care”
  • Fast and easy access to all the documents, data and process events required for accurate decision making.  It is all there on one screen, creating a truly holistic approach to customer service 
  • Faster incident resolution and more comprehensive investigation of complaints 
  • Rapidly resolve issues, track customer information and manage relationships 
  • Significant enhancement of customer satisfaction and your company’s reputation for service

All in all, adding Case Management software means you’ve got a better way to get work done.  Integrated with other internal systems, it’s a fast and simple approach to enhancing service. 

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Contact CAPSYS Technologies or Integrated Document Technologies, Inc. today to learn how Case Management solutions can help your business.  

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Do you and your Business a Huge Favor, Keep your Business Software Current

The Upgrade Decision
As budgets are tight, the question of “to upgrade or not to upgrade” often arises. The path to the answer can be complex and require a great deal of consideration. Getting your company through an implementation can be difficult. Upgrading can sometimes be tricky as well. It is essential that some basic analysis is done to establish whether an upgrade is right for your organization and if so, which upgrade path you should follow. The upgrade decision involves several points to consider including:
  • cost of acquisition and implementation
  • total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • performance considerations (such as security, reliability, scalability)
  • and management and operations considerations
With each new release, software vendors increase the value of their offerings and challenge their competitors. There is merit to this claim. You should stay up to date as being current often results in enhanced features and capabilities to handle the latest interfaces. But, how do you examine and learn the real value of the new release, decide what new features drive your next upgrade and make the business case to management in a tough business climate to justify moving to the latest edition? Technology upgrades have got to be about more than just the latest and greatest feature—they have to make business sense. Each new release should be properly assessed to establish whether it brings enough business value to implement, or whether to wait until the next release.

Some analysis will be easy. Perhaps the most important factor in making the upgrade decision is whether there will be continued support of your current release. Bottom line, if the software vendor will be discontinuing support for your current release, you really need to make the investment and upgrade. It would be foolish to continue to operate your business on a release that is not being supported.

You’ll also want to consider your operating system and other ancillary software to think about how upgrading one can affect others. For instance, Microsoft phased out support for Windows 2003 Servers. While 2003 users plan upgrades to their operating system, they may consider upgrading other software, which resides on this system, at the same time.

Upgrading to a new release on the basis of new or improved functionality alone is a difficult choice. Like any other business decision, it should be possible to evaluate the benefits to your company and the expenses that will be involved in upgrading.

When looking at new functionality, it is important to keep in mind the strategy and goals of your organization. Do the new features support your current goals? Just as importantly, do the new features provide a strategic advantage for your future technology plans? Will upgrading now enable new technology to be added later?
When considering costs involved in upgrading, make sure you look at:
  • cost to support your current release
  • cost to upgrade to the new release
  • how long the new version has been available and whether you want to be an “early adopter”
  • ongoing cost to support the new release
Once you have costs and a business case to present to decision makers, you should also put together an initial time table estimate for the upgrade. Enlisting the support of your outside technology consulting firm is key because, just like the initial implementation, the upgrade will require someone with the necessary expertise to guide a team of technical and functional experts through the upgrade process. Your technology consulting firm has the project management, technical skills, and training with your specific software to get the job done in the most efficient manner and will be there to offer training on new features as well as on-going support. Your outside consulting firm can also provide additional insight into how the applications may work with your business processes and make sure any new or changed business processes are mapped.

Maybe its time to retire the old systems and consider moving the application to the Cloud.  This poses lots of new opportunities for your business and likely will free you and your staff to perform more important job functions while reducing overall operating costs. 

If you’re struggling with the “to upgrade or not to upgrade” question, feel free to drop a comment back and we will be happy to help you out.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pay as you go or the traditional On-Premise Software Deployment?

Choices: Cloud, Hybrid Cloud or On-Premise ECM Data and Document Capture?

Cloud (or the pay as you go model) has progressed beyond first-generation functionality, and is in a prime position to serve small, mid-size and large firms. It represents an opportunity for organizations to gain competitive advantages through faster daily work processes for far less money than ever, and can be rolled-out in far less time.

Among the many advantages of the Cloud include but are not limited to:

  • No server hardware, operating systems, or server software;
  • No hotfixes/patches or service packs to install or update internally;
  • IT is largely offloaded from internal infrastructure support; 
  • Application administration can be offloaded or outsourced to your Cloud provider.
When evaluating which of the three different consumption methods (Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, On-Premise) of Data and Document Capture software solutions and determining which of the approaches are best for your organization, it boils down to two major decision criteria: Budget and Time to Market. 

Pretty straight forward concept - although here is where you can get creative.   Buying software licenses  usually requires a lengthy and laborious CAPEX process.  CAPEX usually requires lots of paperwork, meetings and can be a very cumbersome ordeal. Using a reputable service organization via the Cloud can avoid the pitfalls of a CAPEX process because it is usually considered an Operating Expense.  The monthly spend is likely less than its counterpart CAPEX purchase.  Operating expenses are where departmental managers have more discretion and can be more flexible with their spend.

Time to Market
No question that time to market is key differentiation between the Cloud and On-Premise. Ask yourself the following questions: how long does it take for your IT department to settle on infrastructure requirements, then how long to procure, install, provision before you ever get around to installing on-premise software solution?   With the Cloud, you literally can be in operation in a matter of hours or days, not weeks, months or quarters.  Your internal IT department can't possibly compete and aside from that point, they probably have more value add serving in other capacities or elsewhere within the organization.

What is a Hybrid Cloud and why should I care?  

Enterprise Content Management is not an entirely all On-Premise or Cloud deployment decision.  Ideally your selected software vendors should provide a Hybrid Cloud Offering in addition to Cloud or On-Premise alternatives.  So what exactly is a Hybrid Cloud Offering in the context of Data and Document Capture?  We can clear this topic up quickly using a fairly simple explanation.

Perhaps your organization is really concerned about data and document security. The final repository - the Content Repository may indeed be best served to be kept internal under IT's lock and key.  Security, control and within the framework of their existing IT infrastructure and management by them sometimes can be the clear choice.  That is completely understandable, we run into that situation frequently. 

However, data and document capture - which is an "on-ramp" into the final destination - the repository or into a business workflow is only a temporary process, not permanent.  The overall lifecycle of the data and documents contained in the Cloud is very short - usually 24 hours or less.  

In this situation described above, the data and document capture solution is deployed in the Cloud and the ECM repository is on-premise.  The data and documents must leave the Cloud data and document capture solution (CAPSYS CAPTURE ONLINE for example) and be sent securely to the internal ECM repository such as OnBase by Hyland, FileBound by Upland,, etc.  In this example, we have now created the "Hybrid Cloud" ECM solution.

Now there are all kinds of variations we can put on this scenario and continue to get very granular.  For example, the cloud based data and document capture solution can be a "hyrbid" solution in and of itself.  You could have database lookup or validation routines bouncing against a web-service that is located internal to your IT department's SQL Server originating from your ERP system such as Dynamics, SAP, Lawson, Peoplesoft, etc.  The web service returns back data and that is used by the cloud data and document capture solution to populate Accounts Payable, Expense Reporting, or Human Resource applications.  You want to leverage your existing data but do it in a manner that doesn't require you take unnecessary risk by replicating the data in yet another database outside of the organization.  This approach has become quite common and would be considered a Hybrid Cloud data and document capture solution.  

The point behind all of this is that cloud based or hybrid cloud data and document capture is a very viable alternative to traditional on-premise only approach.  It can be a less expensive alternative to on-premise and the time to market is unquestionable.  It is not an "all or nothing" decision making process anymore.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and your experiences with Hybrid ECM implementations.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The IT MOAB Effect

Internal IT - Your Friend or Foe?

It is rather amazing to see how unnecessarily bloated IT spending has become over the years in Corporate America.  We see it time and time again how the internal IT departments in large corporations block and tackle their own customers.  They are supposed to bring reasonably priced solutions and work in cooperation with their end users to solve their business problems.  Reasonably priced and work in cooperation are indeed the operative words here.
Case in point, we just recently had a discussion with a customer who is getting handed a "ginormous" (h/t Elf, after all it is Christmas season) per server Christmas present from their IT department to support an internal ECM application.  To complicate matters, this particular customer outsources their IT infrastructure and day to day management to a third party under the direction of corporate IT leadership.  They need three servers to run their existing legacy ECM application - which by the way has been deemed end of life by the manufacturer.  The existing hardware infrastructure is outdated and can't adequately support the latest version of the application software.

The Oracle database is also outdated and IT has mandated an upgrade to Oracle DB Version 11. Microsoft is terminating Windows 2003 Server support on July 14, 2015 in which the current application is installed upon.  All this information is news to the business end user who was not prepared nor made aware all of these unfortunate events.  Further, they were not being proactively addressed by IT - the application was neglected.  But wait.... that is not the end of their bad news.  $300,000.00 is the price tag that IT is proposing to charge the internal business user to support and standup three new virtual servers that are required. On top of that, the end user needs to spend consulting service dollars - around $35,000.00 for the ECM vendor to perform the application upgrade to the current release.  So the total project cost for an application upgrade is north of $335,000.00, not including annual software maintenance.  This is why I call it the IT MOAB effect - utter shock and awe news delivered to the end user courtesy of their IT Department.  No advanced warning, no planning, just the deliverer of very bad news. 

What is the end user going to do in light of their holiday gift?  Sit and spin - they didn't see that price tag coming.  Simply amazing! Sound familiar?  From our standpoint, its a broken record, we see Corporate IT behave like this time and time again.

Plan B - Cloud to the Rescue
This client can consider taking a Blue Sky approach - which can equally serve small, mid-sized and enterprise organizations - and in this particular case can serve as an effective alternative to internal IT.  Plan B can quickly and cost effectively solve this end user's dilemma - essentially firing internal IT.  The Cloud represents an immediate opportunity for this end user to gain a significant competitive advantage by getting the solution they need now rather than continue to wait for IT to do its job which in this case, they clearly didn't.

Cloud solutions can be rolled out in days or weeks rather than quarters or years.  With the Cloud (unfair) advantage, this end user no longer has to deal with ongoing internal IT struggles such as hardware, software, maintenance, bureaucracy or bloated charge backs for the organization's internal IT department's fast/friendly service.

The Math doesn't Lie - Lower your Costs
Let’s revisit some of the other harsh realities of an on‐premise solution model: You are still left with having to put in place the necessary infrastructure to operate the ECM application — people, processes, support systems, and of course, vendor software and equipment. Those are some of the hidden costs behind why IT is hitting the end user with such a hefty price tag. After that initial capital contribution, it’s also your job to budget each and every year thereafter for your ongoing support maintenance contracts, software upgrades, hardware/servers/OS refreshes, patching, hot‐fixes, etc.

In the Cloud model, you typically are not required to procure any hardware or software; you may or may not be required to sign a multi‐year agreement (multi-year agreements are a means of negotiating lower pricing in exchange for a commitment), pay a nominal setup charge, agree to a monthly recurring fee and away you go. And, you the end user are now out of the business of dealing with internal IT struggles around upgrades (hardware and software), patches, hot‐fixes and internal IT support nightmares and exorbitant charge backs. Remember, all that non–money making series of necessary events and tasks to maintain an on‐premise solution must be accounted for and performed by someone one way or another.

In the Cloud, the provider who is the resident expert provides that service for you directly.  Your IT department are generalists and value added is likely spent elsewhere within the organization.  ECM is not a generalist application, it requires experts who are proficient in the industry. The Cloud provider has a built in "carrot and stick" to make you a satisfied customer unlike internal IT - you are probably considered a cog in a very large wheel. 

Am I being tough on IT departments in Corporate America here? You bet, but it is well deserved and after 20+ years in the industry seeing this scenario play out over and over, I think it is time the Business End Users are provided with viable and affordable alternatives that work - ECM in the Cloud.