Sunday, December 30, 2007

Document Management and Accounting Departments

It is an interesting landscape out there in the accounting world today. More and more organizations are trying to become as "paperless" as possible, but the inflow just keeps increasing. There are so many options out there, and with every major accounting software vendor now touting their "Document Management"module or add-on, what are managers in this department supposed to do?

Although I am a proponent of the pilot program philosophy, especially with ECM and Document Management, there needs to be an organizational plan and strategic vision. If every department put their software vendor solution into play, IT would have a major nightmare handling multiple disparate systems to manage company documents. Along with that, the majority of specialized departmental software falls way short in the capture and scanning portion of their functionality.

So what is the answer? Find a solid enterprise solution that can be customized for each department's specific needs. Easier said than done, but in focusing on Accounting and Invoice Solutions, here are some key points:

  • Focus on document capture - a quick, easy and reliable method for converting paper into digital format is essential. Utilizing a capture front-end such as iCapture can speed up the scanning process, and make the documents available to end users quickly.
  • Look at integration - Most accounting software will tout this as a major advantage to their Document Management place for all your info. In reality, no one piece of software can be a "jack of all trades"; let the Accounting Software do what it does best, and find a Document Management vendor to handle your documents. All of the major vendors have Software Development Kits (SDKs) and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that allow you to integrate these systems with just about any application on your network.
  • Look at possible future initiatives - That system may have a rock solid Accounts Payable piece, but what about all the other document types? Contracts, POs, invoices, vendor information, tax info, etc. Ensure that the system you are evaluating can handle all document types, and not just specific functional areas.
  • Get end users involved - There are so many key factors to success on these types of projects, but success will always lie in the end users ability to quickly adapt and utilize the system. Get their feedback and acceptance before moving forward.
Accounting Management realizes their need for Document Management, but the task is daunting, and in most cases totally overwhelming. Get your IT involved, and a reputable vendor with implementations in like organizations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to get started in Document Management

I often get asked the question "What is the best way to get started on my Document Imaging project?" And of course, the answer is always: "It depends"

The easiest way to begin down the Document Management path is by using an all too familiar device within every office: the scanning Multi-Function Device. Just about every office out there today has a scanning copier or fax machine that will allow you to scan to PDF or TIFF. I recommend you come up with a document/folder naming scheme within your department or company to make sure there is some standardization to the whole scanning process. This is an extremely critical step for several reasons:

  • It prevents the paper mess that already exists from becoming a digital mess
  • Standardization in the scanning provides continuity throughout the organization, insuring that you can locate the documents later
  • Standardized folder structures and file naming schemes allow easy import down the line if you choose to migrate your documents to a true ECM or DM System.

The most important piece of advice is to have a plan, and make sure everyone sticks to it.

For some organizations, enforcing standards through the honesty rule just won't cut it. Wily end-users just won't comply, and ignore naming standards. In this case, the next logical progression would be to add some sort of capture software to enforce naming standards. If you are utilizing your copier, you can use an MFD Capture package such as eCopy or EFI's SendMe to require proper naming and folder locations. Information on these products can be found on the links page here Capture Software Links .

So, aside from the basic scan-to-file scheme above, what other options exist for getting started? Most of the software vendors in the Document Management/Enterprise Content Management space have basic entry level packages that can get your project off the ground at a relatively inexpensive price. One that comes to mind is the Captaris Alchemy Gold package (If you want really good pricing on this entry package, send me a note). Others include LaserFiche and Documentum's AX. All are fairly powerful systems that allow you to grow into their full-blown product line through upgrades or the addition of modules. Click here to see links to manufacturer pages Document Management Software.

Any way you choose, less paper is better!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Scanning with your Copier or Multi-function Device (MFD)

How do you get the most out of your scanning copier?

The copier manufacturers (Konica, Sharp, Canon, Kyocera) have really stepped up to the plate in recent years, and focused on the scanning capability of their hardware. Connecting to the network with your copier used to be a costly option, but would enable the unit to print and scan. Almost all the copiers today are sold with built-in network capability, and you instantly have network scanning capability.

So why would you use a copier rather than a dedicated desktop scanner? There is an article posted at that has a list of pros and cons to both device types - Copiers versus Dedicatd Scanners for Document Imaging , but the focus of this article will be on how to best utilize your copier for scanning.

Most of the MFD/MFPs allow scanning to email, scanning to SMB or network folders and scanning to FTP sites. It is interesting, and I find that most organizations will only setup scan to email. Users email themselves documents, open the attachment, rename it, create a folder and then save. As you can imagine, this is a time consuming, very manual process. The scan to folder function on most models is also a very manual process, as with most models you have to "hard code" the folder destination, and you cannot navigate folders on your network.

So how do we improve the scanning process, and make our document imaging simpler and more efficient? Through the use of software.

In utilizing software in the scanning process, there are two schools of thought:

  • Scan to the network, and then go back to your desk and desktop software to process the document
  • Process the document at the Copier/MFD at the time of scan

Let's look at these in more detail.

Desktop Processing

Let's look at the flow of this solution: Walk up to the copier, press a one touch button, walk back to your desk and open the software to process. The majority of the Document Management and ECM Software vendors have realized the enormous potential in enabling the use of copiers as a "front-end" for capturing documents, and have "copier-enabled" their applications. Once you scan from the copier, the document is placed in a queue for indexing/processing at your desktop. You can view the document, enter index or keyword values, and then submit the document to your Document Management System to be shared. Document Management Software vendors such as Captaris and Docuware have built simple, easy to use Copier capture modules. If you have some heavy duty processing needs, you can use Psigen or Kofax products and their document import function to process copier scanned documents.

If you have more basic needs, all of the Desktop scanning manufacturers have great feature sets for processing and working with scanned documents (eCopy Desktop and Nuance PaperPort to name a few). The links below have a listing of the majority of the software manufacturers:

Document Management Software Capture Software Desktop Scanning Software

Processing at the Copier

The flow for this solution involves a touch screen and keyboard at the copier: Scan your documents at the copier, touch a button on the screen for the document destination, enter your information and click done.

These solutions are very convenient and allow you to finish the scanning process at the time of scan. You can scan to email, scan to network folders and browse the network, scan to fax, scan to your desktop, and even scan into a variety of Document Management and Imaging Systems through the use of pre-built connectors. The two market leaders in this category are eCopy ShareScan and EFI SendMe. They both have similar feature sets, but eCopy definitely wins the race with the partnerships it has established with Document Management Vendors. Go to the link below for additional info:

Copier Capture Solutions

In summary, scanning with your copier is a great way to leverage your existing investment in office equipment. The process can be streamlined, and efficiency can be gained through the use of software.

For more info on Document Management and Document Imaging, go to

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Document Management and Compliance

What is Gramm-Leach-Bliley and how does it apply to Document Management?

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or GLBA, was put into place to allow consolidation in the banking industry. It provided rules for the combining of Commercial and Investment Banking. The main crux of the Act are provisions to protect the private financial information of consumers. The two main regulations governing the protection are the Financial Privacy Rule and the Safeguards Rule. The regualtions apply to many different types of financial institutions, including: securities firms, insurance companies, brokerages and banks.

Compliance with GLBA is manadatory, and below is a summary of the two mainregulations:

Financial Privacy Rule

The Privacy Rule governs the disclosure and collection of private financial information. It requires Privacy Notifications be submitted to the consumer that discloses how information will be used and/or shared. The consumer has the right to opt out and not provide the required information.

Safeguards Rule

The Safeguards Rule requires a written plan to protect and secure the private information held by an institution. The plan requires overall management of the safeguards through organizational structure, risk management plans for each department that handles the private information, plans for monitoring and suditing complaince and the ability to manage the overall collection, usage, storage, and distribution.

So how do Electronic Document Management Systems or Electronic Content Management Systems help with this daunting task?

EDMS or ECM systems can provide the oversight for managing private information through:

  • Enhanced Security and Access Controls
  • Centralized auditing
  • Centralized, rather than distributed storage
  • The ability to control usage and distribution

For some further reading on GLBA go to and read the compliance section, or click on the link below to go to the GLBA Compliance Links Page:

GLBA Compliance Page