Paper pains Featured

7:00pm EDT December 7, 2009

Most organizations have different strategies for integrating document management processes into their operations. It may be a corporate strategy, an IT strategy or a specific document strategy.

However, few organizations have a dedicated document strategy. As a result, most documents moving through an organization don’t effectively foster corporate objectives.

“Most document management strategies include these basic elements: increasing revenue and customer satisfaction while decreasing costs,” says Matthew J. Brooke, solutions analyst at Toshiba Business Solutions.

Smart Business spoke with Brooke about how to develop a strategy that attacks those three elements.

What steps need to be taken for a company to move into a document imaging solution?

The first step is to recognize what kind of document related challenges and processes an organization is experiencing. If a company decides that it needs some type of organization of its documents, and understands that moving documents throughout the enterprise via a paper-based process is costing money, then there is some type of pain.

According to statistics from Cooper’s and Lybrand, an average office makes 19 copies of each document, spends $20 on labor for filing each document, spends $120 searching for each misfiled document, loses one out of 20 office documents, and spends $250 on document recreation. If you put it together, you’ll see a lot of unnecessary costs.

Document solutions providers review business processes and related documents and offer businesses document process recommendations, which convert receivables to cash faster, cut costs and improve employee productivity and customer satisfaction.

Virtually every type of business that is filing hard copy documents will experience an immediate return on investment with an electronic document management system.

What are some of the most common document-related pains?

Every business sector has several types of document management pain. Generally, there are several pain points to look at. The first pain is to secure the information as it flows through the business processes. The second is trying to improve productivity. That can be done by trying to offer customers a better, faster way of getting their hands on information. Companies are obviously trying to reduce costs by eliminating expenses like rent for additional storage space or paper folders or file cabinets.

The most important pain point is disaster recovery. Because 60 percent of all information is still stored in hardcopy, a disaster recovery plan is crucial, making a document management and imaging solution vital.

How can a document management solution fit into different types of business processes?

There are common document management challenges that exist in all companies. Generally, a document management solution would focus on the accounts receivable and accounts payable departments. Most companies have a collection department. You’re trying to increase revenue by bringing in as much receivable cash as possible. You may have customers who are behind on their invoices. With a true document imaging strategy, you can reduce that accounts receivable past due by 30 to 40 percent, bringing cash receivables to the company quicker.

How can document imaging help reduce late payments?

If I’m in an AR roll at an organization and I call a customer to follow up on a past due invoice, their usual response is that they lost or never received the invoice. Nine times out of 10, that collector has to put the customer on hold, or stop the conversation, go to a file cabinet and search for the invoice, which might be misplaced or, on someone else’s desk. Then, the collector has to call the customer back, make a copy of the invoice, then either fax it or mail it to the customer. Now, four or five days have gone by. The collector calls the customer again but can’t get a hold of them.

With a document management solution in place, the collector can have a copy of the invoice up on the screen when the call is placed. Then when the customer says they can’t find the invoice, the collector can e-mail or fax it from his or her desktop right then and there. A true document management solution cuts back on the cost of those receivable days out.

What are some solutions to other pains you mentioned?

When it comes to accounts payable, having a true document management process in place will reduce AP process time, and relieve any miscommunications within the organization. An invoice from a vendor is scanned into the system, attached to it is a bill of lading from the vendor with a purchase order from your organization, along with a copy of the actual check that was sent to the vendor.

Consider this: a purchase order is processed for 10 PCs, which is then issued to the vendor. The vendor processes the PO, sends 9 PCs and attaches the bill of lading for those 9 PCs, then sends an invoice for 10 PCs. The issue is the bill of lading goes to shipping, the invoice goes to accounting. The problem: without the accounts payable and the shipping departments communicating to each other, they are not going to know that there were 10 ordered and paid for, and only 9 were received.

With a document management process in place, you would have all these images electronically. You can link all these documents together and view them all on your screen so you know exactly what you’re getting, what you’re paying for, what you received, and what you need to cut a check for. This way, the entire organization is linked together.


Matthew J. Brooke is a solutions analyst with Toshiba Business Solutions. Reach him at or (216) 525-8385.