More and more executives are looking for ways to reduce paper flow, but they need help implementing a solution. Many may find their companies turning to integrated document management (IDM), a broad practice that uses a business’s technologies, architecture, and organizational structure to develop a more efficient system of handling documents.

GartnerGroup estimates that by the end of 2002, more than 50 percent of enterprises will be managing the implementation of a strategic architectural plan that incorporates IDM.

But while IDM is gaining acceptance, it is sometimes overlooked as a solution simply because executives are not aware of the technology.

“The CIO must embrace this technology because it becomes the cornerstone of a knowledge management strategy,” said Alan Weintraub, GartnerGroup’s research director for document management. ”You need to have your repositories defined and in place for knowledge management to be effective in an organization.”

In this article, we’ll share the thoughts of several executives and analysts on how IDM works in the enterprise and what factors CIOs should consider when implementing IDM strategies.

How IDM works in business
David Szetela, president and CEO of Paperless Technologies, Inc., in Louisville, KY, defines integrated document management as any of four applications:

  • Document imaging, such as scanning archiving
  • Forms processing, which entails scanning an image, using optical-character recognition on the image, and extracting text and other information
  • Document management of computer files
  • Workflow, which includes moving information, sometimes scanned paper, from desktop to desktop to avoid the need to re-key data or to eliminate paper

Szetela also contends that businesses can save money by implementing IDM.

“The savings we can effect for customers is often very dramatic,” Szetela said. He suggests CIOs look at the processes within the organization “where customers have to wait, or money waits to be deposited, or there is a lot of paper and penalties for losing that paper.”

He further suggests that “headcount savings, facility savings, and parts of the business where the expenses are high and appear to be fixed” will be impacted by IDM.

How IDM works with IDOM
Hand-in-hand with IDM is integrated document and output management (IDOM), a term coined by Gartner to describe a suite of applications that define the whole document continuum, from creation to destruction.

According to Weintraub, businesses are now placing more emphasis on the document’s life cycle. IDOM can help businesses manage that practice. It “takes you anywhere from capturing documents [to] managing documents, approving them, distributing them, printing, and publishing,” Weintraub said.

IDM and the CIO
While IDM hasn’t yet caught the eye of every enterprise, Weintraub believes its proliferation is inevitable.

“It’s a wave that you won’t be able to avoid,” he said. “IDM needs to be the cornerstone of knowledge management.”

Weintraub sees IDM becoming a desktop tool, like spreadsheet or word processing programs. “CIOs should try to understand how IDM can apply to everyone in their business.”

He added, “As you start planning your knowledge management or content management strategies, you need to understand: What does the introduction of the low-cost, desktop-capable document management system bring me, and where do I need to look at other added repositories?”

What CIOs should consider when implementing IDM
Tom Wilson, senior manager for document management practice with KPMG Consulting , believes CIOs need to consider three areas when implementing IDM:

1) Cost effectiveness: Assess return on investment for this kind of implementation.

Wilson sees one of IDM’s greatest strengths as its ability to “drive a lot of the convergence in different organizations and customer bases.” He said, “There is a need to be able to communicate and understand all of the information from both organizations and act as a single company to the outside world and customer base.”

2)Change impact:What is the impact of implementing a new system in the organization? What does that mean in terms of training, skill level, and job classifications?

When using IDM with e-mail, for example, each person would determine whether the e-mail needs to be retained as a corporate record, and if so, what classification it goes into. But CIOs should also assess whether such measures would substantially increase workloads. “It can be very negative if you’re imposing additional work on users that they may not be aware of and don’t understand, or don’t see the value in,” Wilson said.

In addition, CIOs should consider ways to transition their business from a paper-based environment to one with electronic systems. Wilson suggested that CIOs examine what transition strategies make sense in their organizations and ask, “Should I do it all at once or do I bring different departments, regions, or groups up together and in stages, so as not to impact the day-to-day production?”

3) Compatibility: Most companies today have an existing infrastructure in terms of the computing environment and e-mail. However, businesses must also take into account the integration required by disparate platforms.

Compatibility with other large systems like ERP and CRM systems and the supply chain management are also important. These are areas where documents that are being managed by the IDM systems need to be available and presented to users through an ERP interface or throughout the supply chain.

User strategies
Gartner recommends four user strategies that facilitate enterprise-wide IDOM adoption:

  • Enterprises should establish a steering committee, a group of IS and non-IS users that will shape the IDOM agenda and establish the key needs of an IDOM architecture.
  • Companies should seek senior management buy-in. Grass roots initiatives provide focus and spark and should culminate in a successful campaign to gain senior manager attention and commitment.
  • With a senior management mandate in hand, the steering committee should lay out its vision of an IDOM architecture, putting together a list of the key hardware, software, and service components of the architecture.
  • Enterprises should monitor their progress toward implementing this vision by using the IDOM architecture strategy checklist.

Have you implemented IDM in your enterprise? Has your workload increased as a result? What are the benefits and drawbacks to your system? Post a comment below or send us an e-mail .