Friday, May 1, 2009

The Case for Distributed, Web-based Document Capture

Executive Summary

Author’s Note

Companies of all sizes face an avalanche of documents and content in various types of formats to be managed, whether in paper or in electronic form. Navigating the myriad potential solutions is what this book is all about.

The set of tools available -- software, hardware and most recently, Software as a Service, all known today as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies -- have advanced significantly in the past decade. Because ECM systems are made up of multiple components (see sidebar), designing an optimal system takes a great deal of knowledge, not only of individual components, but how they all work together.
ECM System Components

Content Management Repository
Document Capture
Workflow or Business Process Management
Search Technology
Document Scanners, MFP’s, Network Scanning Appliances
IT infrastructure (servers, network, database, storage, etc.)
Professional implementation and support services
Maintenance & support fees (re-occurring)

Costs can be as high as six or seven figures to create
and maintain these systems, for staff, hardware,
software, storage, consumables and support.

In more than 20 years of consulting with companies across the U.S., I’ve found that many customers do not do their homework with ECM system vendor selections and the subsequent system rollouts. Due to the technical complexities and multitude of choices, most customers are best served by bringing in an expert adviser. In these pages, I share real-world knowledge of what make these systems tick – and point out the stumbling blocks that often interfere with getting the absolute most from them.

One of the keys to ensuring all of the ECM components work together is Document Capture. It is often mistakenly not the focus of an ECM software purchase. Yet it is of infinite importance because it is the “on-ramp” to any ECM system, interfacing with many points in the content management process – from data inputs through Workflow processes, integration with your line of business system (such as ERP or operations systems) through storage in your Content Repository.

The secret: Content Management vendors rarely – if at all - address efficient and effective Document Capture without the help of third-party Document Capture applications. So the lesson for you, the buyer, is to understand its importance, and not cut corners!

You need a well-defined business process AND;
A software application capable of handling the document capture process.

Another reason to care: Labor associated with Document Capture is one of the highest costs in an ECM roll-out.

So how do you ensure you are on the right cost/performance track with the Capture system you are specifying? Read on.

Part One - tells you what you need to know about Document Capture; details system options; describes on-premise and SaaS models; and details the costs of traditional Centralized Document Capture versus Distributed, Web-Based Capture.

Part Two - discusses every step of the Distributed, Web-Based Capture process; offers tricks, tips and realities of each; and presents a new software/SaaS system that solves the challenge of effective Capture at a lower cost, without sacrificing capabilities of traditional software.

Paul E. Szemplinski
April 2009

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