"Just see our latest balance sheet" is a common and logical answer to this question. But is it really that easy?
There is no doubt that the balance sheet paints a fairly realistic picture of the value of a company's tangible assets. It is quite simple to put a value on cash on hand, machinery, office equipment and accounts receivable, just to name a few items.
It becomes much more difficult to assign a value to a company's hidden treasures, the intangible assets such as owned patents or trademarks, customer contracts, software and other know-how. But a well-organized Document Management System (DMS) can help to identify and valuate some of these intangible items.
Fictitious InfoBrain Inc. is a reseller for a number of software products. To add value to its product offering, InfoBrain developed a suite of integration tools that increases the efficiency of the software products it sells. Once InfoBrain sells a product, its customers purchase a support and maintenance agreement.
InfoBrain's support desk helps its customers during installation, setup and operation of the programs. If a customer calls InfoBrain's support number, an incident number is assigned, the details of the problem are noted and the information is passed to one of the support engineers to take care of it.
The next available support engineer looks into the incident and, once a solution is found, calls the customer back, explains the solution and guides him or her though the necessary steps.
In a traditional environment, the documentation created during the described process would be stored in file folders, most likely grouped by customer.
If, a few weeks later, a different customer places a call with the same or a similar problem, it would be very difficult to find the documentation and, therefore, the entire process of investigating, isolating and solving the problem would have to be repeated.
If InfoBrain used a DMS, the scenario would look like this: During or after the initial contact, the information would be entered into a document. This document would be stored in the DMS, together with index information such as customer number, customer name, date and time of the call, incident number and a brief description of the issue.
The DMS would then route the document to one of the support engineers and place it into his queue. Once the support engineer processes the call, he or she would store additional documents and notes in the DMS using the same index values. Once the issue is resolved, all information, including any accompanying documents, would be available to all authorized users of the DMS.
Through methods such as full text search, the DMS would enable the whole group of support engineers to search for similar problems and the appropriate solution, before they have to initiate the investigation process.
The advantages of InfoBrain using DMS are obvious. Because the support engineers are put in a position to solve a client's issue more quickly, they would get a much better resolved call/support engineer ratio and, thus, increase their bottom line and, consequently, the company's value.
The same benefits of a DMS could be gained for documentation of patents, trademarks and other intangible assets owned by a company.