Importance of Being Ernest: With email

Today’s guest post by: Campbell Robertson (@Campbell_Tech), World Wide Industry Director – Public Sector

I see it almost weekly now that some investigation or inquiry into a scandal or political wrongdoing relies more and more on email as evidence.

Either the emails can’t be found (for obvious reasons) or when they are found they illuminate a further chain of evidence that the guilty party can’t hide.  All in all it points to the importance of a public sector organization to properly manage and store email in accordance with legislative guidelines and record keeping principles.

In the past records management was viewed as a dull and lackluster practice of storing physical documents in the basement of the department.  However; in today’s world it only takes one leaked email of a politician to highlight record management’s importance.

Email is like so many new forms of information (such as instant messages, images, voice mail, social media messages, etc.) have been overlooked mostly as a formal record.  As I work with government departments around the world I have noticed that managing email as a record is becoming more and more prevalent.  The hard part is to manage it well.   Backup tapes or copies will not cut it; therefore proper classification and metadata is needed with a robust governance strategy.  Information Lifecycle Governance (ILG) becomes the means to the end to ensure that risk and security of information in email is managed effectively and efficiently.

ILG then begs a few questions.  Who will own the management of email at the end of the day? Who will communicate and enforce the governance rules to all users ? What will the file plan look like?  I have worked with many organizations on how they can effectively incorporate email into the their overall governance and information management strategy.

The federal team of IBM ECM worked on a pilot project with a US Military agency on automatically classifying email as a record.  I would encourage you to read the whitepaper on this project to see some interesting and eye opening capabilities in being to automate records declaration and management; such as storage savings and efficiency gains.

Seize the moment. Learn how to bring your Business content to life at Insight 2014.

Today’s guest post by: Caroline Seymour, Director, WW IBM ECM Marketing

Organizations today have a greater volume, velocity, and variety of information than ever before. They are constantly challenged with managing and deriving value out of unstructured business content. From mobile devices and social media networks to cloud-based applications, we are continuously creating and sharing information – proof that we are in the age of Big Data & Analytics.

Don’t miss the IBM’s Premiere Big Data & Analytics conference, Insight 2014, to learn how to bring your enterprise content to life.  Continue reading

Banks are Cashing In on Intelligent Capture

Today’s guest post by: Kevin Craine, Author, Writer, and Podcast Host— Director, Craine Communications Group
 
Banking is undergoing a massive shift that began with the automated teller machine, continued with online banking, and is now accelerating with the advent of mobile computing. It wasn’t that long ago that customers were limited to their local branch and the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. “banker’s hours” of the 1900’s. But today, customers are free to do their banking from anywhere and at any time, and the very idea of visiting a branch is becoming an antiquated notion.
  
Capturing New Branch Value
 
Bank performance these days is less about a physical branch experience and more about the real time experience customers have when interacting with the firm. Driven by smart phones, iPads and 24/7 connection to the Internet, most financial institutions are investing heavily to upgrade their Web and mobile infrastructures. As a result, they have discovered a new value for a proven technology that many already use: Document and data capture. Indeed, a new generation of intelligent capture solutions has emerged that is helping banks remove the burden of paper in legacy processes, like loan origination and new account openings, while extending the power of capture to achieve new levels of case management and business intelligence.
 
 Loan Origination Still Snarled with Paper
 
Simply put, there’s no time for old paper-bound methods when today’s banking customers expect real time service and the very profitability of the firm hinges on efficiency, cost containment and customer responsiveness. One good example is the loan origination process – a process traditionally burdened with a host of paper-based inefficiencies and expense. As other areas of business and commerce have become more and more paperless, the loan origination process for most banks has remained mired in paper copies and manual workflow. Banks pay the price in unnecessary shipping expense, printing costs, and administration overhead, while profitability and performance often suffer from the inherent delays and complexities of a paper-bound process.
  
Mobile Capture Boosts Branch Profitability and Case Management
 
New mobile capture solutions change all that with the ability for banks to remove paper from the loan origination process by using smartphones and tablets to drive the digital “capture” of the necessary documents. Loan officers and customer engagement staff simply take a picture of each document with a smartphone or tablet – either in the branch or in a customer’s home or office – then upload the images in a batch and automatically kick off the subsequent steps in the loan approval process. All the while, advanced document classification capabilities streamline the centralized back-office management of each loan.
 
 To see a video on Intelligent Capture for banks visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pMwljPBPg4
  
Intelligent Capture
 
In today’s challenging economic climate, banks must be more agile and competitive than ever before. But that is difficult to do when the loan origination process is dependent on antiquated, paper-based workflow. New intelligent capture capabilities — like mobile capture, multichannel input and advanced case management techniques — enable a number of important improvements and capabilities that bring new value to branch operations while improving the experience customers have when interacting with the firm.
 
 
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Guest contributor Kevin Craine is the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy, host of the Document Strategy Podcast, and a respected authority on document management and process improvement. He is the managing director of Craine Communications Group. For more information visit CraineGroup.com.
 

Why do you need a Digital Strategy for employee records?

Today’s guest post by: Dan Bigos,Market Segment Manager,ECM Industry Strategy

In my last post, we explored the benefits human resources can achieve by transforming paper employee documents into an electronic format and replacing paper forms with electronic forms. Both approaches lead not only to significant cost savings but also greater accuracy in capturing and managing employee information.

With a transition to digital employee records, there are added benefits that can accrue an HR organization. In addition to employee records that originate in paper or electronic forms, additional employee information may include PDF, Word, photos and email. All of these being “born digital,” make it easy to capture, classify and secure in a logical employee folder maintained in a document management system. Employee records can then be easily linked to employee information contained in the Human Resource Management System(HRMS) to provide an HR specialist with a “single view” of employee. This eliminates the need to search for employee records that might otherwise be located in separate, unsecured locations, physical or digital. Security can also be applied to insure that document access is limited to specific HR roles, corporate legal, or the actual employee. Digital management of employee records has obvious security advantages in comparison to paper records.

Digital management of employee information also makes it easy to replace manual workflows, using automation to process an employee request (perhaps initiated via electronic form), add a document to the employee file, or confirm that an employee has reviewed or responded to a required document or request. A considerable amount of administrative overhead can be eliminated with the introduction of automated processes. If need be, workflows can be audited for an additional degree of confidence that a process was completed in a timely and prescribed manner.

Digital management of employee records also enables an HR organization to retain records only as long as legally required. A formal process to capture and classify employee documents also permits a retention cycle to be applied so that records will be retained only as long as legally required. From the perspective of HR, legal, compliance and IT, this approach has demonstrable advantages in comparison to paper records management or the “maintain electronic files forever” approach that continually adds to data storage costs. Employee records management policies vary by industry and geography. The Society for Human Resource Management provides guidance on this important topic.

As before, I pose a set of questions to help determine where an HR organization may benefit:

  • How many different types of documents are contained in a typical employee’s file?
  • Are all employee records easily and securely available via the HRMS?
  • Do you have high-volume processes that could benefit from process automation?
  • Do you retain employee records longer than legally required?

You may find these links useful in understanding the capabilities and benefits of managing a wide range of employee documents, process automation and records management.

 

Un-leash your Knowledge Workforce

Today’s guest post by:Mohammed Attar(@MattarECM),IBM Case Management Business Leader

How are knowledge workers going to make better business decisions if they don’t have the flexibility to decide based on existing content, newly added content, or live streaming content? Business content, in all forms, contains the information your knowledge workers need to drive business outcomes.

In my last entry, I mentioned that businesses are changing at a breakneck pace and I called for us to embrace change with a flexible case management solution that permits more than just business as usual. It is time for all of us to recognize that standardized, automated business processes no longer fit the bill for many of the modern business challenges that confront the world today. Rather, our new knowledge workforce requires the capability to handle special exceptions in context with unstructured business content and unconstrained business challenges.

Knowledge workers perform better when they are empowered with tools to leverage the power of their enterprise to solve cases freely, at their expert discretion. A recent AIIM study found that 51% of organizations report at least half of their business processes are unpredictable or nonlinear in nature. In addition, it was found that 62% of organizations report at least half of their processes call for the creation of case folders or other collaborative content products. These numbers are not in decline and they are not holding still – they are increasing, and we are all encountering new challenges as our work becomes more creative and collaborative over time.

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Exceptions to the regular business process can be detrimental to business outcomes when knowledge workers are not free to innovate unique solutions. This manifests as unpredictable costs and repercussions for both the business and its customers. For example, doctors who need test results faster than usual will run into bureaucratic delays that jeopardize patient recovery, lenders who detect identity fraud will be forced to freeze assets long after the threat is alleviated, or innocent civilians will serve time in prison while law enforcement cuts through red tape to confirm a case of mistaken identity. Doctors, lenders, and law enforcement may be expert knowledge workers in their respective fields, but increasingly rigid processes will tie their hands tightly. As their work becomes more unpredictable, more and more exceptions will occur and the cost of a shackled knowledge workforce will climb higher.

A case management solution gives knowledge workers the freedom to put their expert discretion to good use, to overcome rigid business processes with real-time solutions, and to cut through red tape. IBM Case Manager delivers the right content at the right time to make the right decisions, and drive better business outcomes. You might even say that we are empowering knowledge workers to turn unconstrained business challenges into invaluable business opportunities. You can read more about the features and benefits of IBM Case Manager 5.2 and how it can help businesses make the right decisions here.

 
Share your thoughts and let’s continue the conversation. Tweet to: @MAttarECM

Biography:

mattar

Mohammed Attar joined IBM in 2006 as part of the FileNet acquisition. Mohammed has over 15 years of experience in the ECM space, and is currently serving as the IBM Case Manager Business, Product and Strategy Leader. Mohammed has extensive experience both in product development and management. Mohammed started his career as a Software Engineer focused Performance & Systems Analysis. He later spent time serving as a Product Manager over the IBM ECM Platform. In 2008, Mohammed led his first development team, and since then has continued to serve in a leadership capacity in the business. Mohammed was one of the original development manager responsible for the design, development, and delivery of IBM Case Manager. Mohammed holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from California State University, Fullerton. You can follow him on Twitter @MAttarECM.

The future of ECM

To say that the amount of data in the world is growing may be the biggest understatement of the century. It’s even been characterized as new natural resource. But if companies aren’t adopting effective ways of filtering, understanding and utilizing that information, they’re missing the boat—plain and simple. They have no way of taking advantage of the enormous opportunity their data represents; that of becoming more agile, efficient and competitive.

Amidst that effort to stay competitive is one key player: the customer. Neil Ward-Dutton, Research Director at the advisory firm MWD states, “Smart companies realize that they not only have to drive efficiency, maintain competitive pricing and deliver great products; they have to focus on how they can deliver exceptional experiences to customers.”

How is that done? Through intelligent Enterprise Content Management (ECM). Certainly, there are ways ECM can help your business today, but what about in the near future? As consumer demand and technology evolves how will ECM evolve with it? Let’s look at a few specific examples.

Government

Our lives are dependent on cities but for many citizens, the only time they share their views with city hall is on Election Day. In five years this could all change as cities seek out a better way to interact with citizens. Insights from crowdsourcing, mobile applications, sensors and analytics on the cloud will allow cities to better listen, interact and respond to citizen needs. This will give rise to new cities that can respond in real-time, predict problems before they occur, and deliver tailored services to make city life better for everyone.

Healthcare

One illustration of how Big Data can get in the way if it’s not deciphered and connected in a meaningful and coordinated way is the challenge doctors have in correlating data from genome sequencing. The data set produced from this practice is massive. Add to that the growing number of patient records and an ever-larger network of healthcare providers, and you’ve potentially got a log jam of data that, in the most extreme cases, could cost lives. In the next few years knowledge workers will be better armed to understand the specific healthcare needs of individuals and keep doctors and administrators alike more informed on the best steps to take.

Insurance

Fraud is becoming more coordinated and sophisticated every day. By removing the barriers between information and fraud investigators and supplying analytics, ECM will continue to help organizations strengthen anti-fraud practices while supporting deterrence, prosecution and recovery of money owed. It supports the three principal types of fraud case management—detection, investigation and reporting—with a role-authorized platform for collaboration among investigators, claims specialists, customer service representatives and security personnel.

The potential impact of ECM is as boundless as data itself. The more integrated ECM becomes across industries, the more powerful and valuable the interpretation and utilization of data will become. Costs will also plummet as more and more structured and unstructured data is transformed into a useable form (as opposed to being archived in static archives) and knowledge workers continue to grow more empowered through the ability to understand content in context, while streamlining and customizing workflows with amazing precision.

 

 

Five Questions To Ask Before You Buy A Capture System

Today’s guest post by: Kevin Craine, Author, Writer, and Podcast Host— Director, Craine Communications Group

 

With all the capture solutions available, how do you know which one is right for you?
 
Capture solutions have evolved from simple scanning into sophisticated systems for document and process automation. Indeed, a “Second Wave” of capture is flooding businesses today with advanced techniques that go beyond basic scan-and-store. Organizations are finding new ways to speed the pace of business and bring about more agile processes throughout the enterprise.
If you are evaluating potential capture solutions, the essential question becomes: With all the approaches and solutions to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you?  Here are five important questions to consider in your evaluation.

 

1.   Does This Solution Support Multi-Channel Input?
Capture systems are evolving from localized paper-imaging systems to encompass all types of information and content. And according to a recent study conducted by AIIM, the need to capture and manage multi-channel input is on the rise. Organizations still process a lot of paper (about 40%), but the rest takes form in other “channels” like email, fax, mobile, and legacy data streams. It simply no longer makes sense to receive an email or fax, which is already electronic to begin with, only to print it out on paper in order to scan it into the system. Does the solution address the need for multi-channel input?

 

2.   Is Your Organization Going Mobile?
We live in an age of mobile computing: 58% of American adults use a smartphone, over 40% own a tablet, and mobile computing grew by 81% just last year alone.  As a result, mobile capture is taking center stage for many organizations. According to AIIM, 45% of companies feel that mobile capture is vitally important, pointing to the competitive need for improved process agility and customer service. Capture is quickly finding its way into mobile applications. Will your solution position you to be ready?

 

3.   Will This Solution Grow and Scale as You Grow?
Most capture systems require users to program every action. And the more granular and flexible you want your capture system to be, the more program coding required. Second Wave capture solutions use a rules-based approach that does not require coding each application from scratch. And rather than follow a peer to peer architecture that requires that a specific client be designated for a specific function (e.g., OCR, validation, etc.), a client-server approach provides the ability to separate clients and servers, and allocate work to idle clients as needed. Does the solution demonstrate a viable path forward as your enterprise needs grow and evolve beyond basic capture?

 

4.   Does this solution integrate with other systems and processes?
It is common for companies to have many different data systems and any number of content and document repositories. These multiple systems sustain varied and often distinct functions such as records management, corporate finance, human resources or claims processing. Whereas in the past capture systems tended to be isolated and process-specific, today’s Second Wave systems serve to connect documents and data to any number of processes across the organization. How well will the potential solution integrate with your other systems and processes?

 

5.   Do you have confidence your software vendor can deploy the solution? 
It seems that every printer/copier vendor has a capture solution. But Second Wave capture systems are integral to performance across more widely varied applications and functions. As a result, capturing the value of capture requires a high level of expertise across varied disciplines, especially when requirements include integration with other business functions, repositories and databases. Are you confident your software vendor can support these needs, understand the unique requirements, and effectively integrate capture across your enterprise?

 

Not all capture solutions are created equal; especially as you consider how Second Wave capture solutions can be used in new and more beneficial ways throughout an enterprise. Use these five questions to help identify which features and capabilities are most important and which solution will best fits your needs.

 

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Guest contributor Kevin Craine is the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy, host of the Document Strategy Podcast, and a respected authority on  document management and process improvement. He is the managing director of Craine Communications Group. For more information visit CraineGroup.com.

How Well Do You Manage Employee Records?

Today’s guest post by: Dan Bigos,Market Segment Manager,ECM Industry Strategy

Increasing workforce transformations and regulatory requirements are making companies to look towards employee records management solutions. Significant amount of employee related information is stored as employee documents throughout an employee’s tenure in an organization. These documents range from recruitment documents, on-boarding forms, emergency notification forms, performance appraisals to separation checklists. There is a clear distinction on what should be stored as employee records and what not. The Society for Human Resource Management provides guidance on the types of records that should [not] be included in personnel files and the record type and variety vary by industry. The challenge is to efficiently capture, process and retain relevant employee records so that they may be easily, securely accessed by authorized personnel.

Despite the proliferation of digital technologies, a remarkable volume of current and historical employee records are stored in file cabinets and banker’s boxes. Inherent costs and risks include accurately capturing employee data, copying, mailing, mis-filing, security, and potential loss of sensitive employee documents.

If paper is the predominate mode of managing employee records, such as an application or change of status form, scanning paper and securely storing it in a document management system can eliminate paper at the “point of entry”. Once captured electronically in to a system, recognition technologies can be applied to determine the type of form and extract relevant employee information without need to manually key data into a Human Resource Management System.

You can go one better, and replace paper with electronic forms to significantly improve ease and accuracy of acquiring employee data. Rules define acceptable data field values and fields can be verified or populated based upon data contained external sources. Both digital copies of paper and electronic forms (with a record of the data entered) can be retained for secure, future access by HR specialists as well as the individual employee. For each of these formats – paper or electronic forms – there is the added advantage of automatically initiating a workflow based upon information gathered from the paper or electronic form.

From my experience, I have found that in order to assess the potential benefit of applying capture or electronic forms to HR practices, one must consider the following:

  • What is the annual cost to store employee records on- and off-site?
  • Could physical storage space be used for more productive business activities?
  • How much time is spent manually processing employee data?
  • How many Full Time Employees are devoted to the administrative overhead of processing employee records?
  • How many HR processes are initiated by a paper form?
  • How many forms are processed annually?
  • What are the potential gains in accuracy and productivity by moving to electronic forms?

If you’d like to tackle the paper problem first, please take a few minutes to view a demonstration of scanning and capture capabilities here.

If you’d like to learn about the use of electronic forms you’ll find a quick overview of capabilities of FileNet eForms here.

The Ever-evolving World of Businesses and their Customers

Today’s guest post by:Mohammed Attar(@MattarECM),IBM Case Management Business Leader

Businesses are evolving. In today’s world, customers are demanding better products and services. In the past, customers were able to pick only two out of the three qualities in the Triple Constraint: scope, cost, and schedule – this is no longer the case. Customers are now demanding all three, and they can invariably find a business to meet those requirements. In our connected world, customers are equipped with a wealth of knowledge. Thanks to the widespread availability of the internet, customers can draw information from varied sources and the far reaches of social media and unite to wield more power in the business-to-consumer relationship.

Like in nature, as the customers evolve, so must their business counterparts. Businesses are constantly redefining their processes. Products today are better than what they were 10 or 20 years ago. Services are being performed more effectively and more efficiently to match growing demand. Even software capabilities developed10 years ago are outdated and underperforming due to the breakneck pace of how fast businesses and business content is moving and evolving. Businesses need software that can handle the changing needs of their enterprise.

Businesses today face an onslaught of incoming information and business content from all of their departments. This ranges from hundreds of job applications in human resources, to thousands of daily transactions in accounting, to a stream of constant inquiries and feedback coming through their customer service representatives and social media channels. These businesses are churning out useful business content – much like a manufacturing factory that is constantly producing valuable goods. Obviously, humans alone cannot take in and process all of this business content. Businesses must have capable enterprise-level software to be able to capture, process, and activate this content in the scope of their business processes.

In fact, the more content-centric their business processes are, the more freedom they can provide for knowledge workers to exercise their valuable, expert discretion. IBM Case Manager is part of a larger enterprise content management suite that leverages unstructured business content and empowers knowledge workers to make the right business decisions at the right time through the help of collaboration, analytics, historical cases, and other tools. When a case is completed and closed, it is persistently stored in a secure repository so it can be recalled by knowledge workers in future cases for insights and information. For some large businesses, this happens thousands of times per day and they are finally prepared to handle special exceptions, unstructured cases, and discretionary business processes.

From my experience, I have seen that businesses which take advantage of powerful case management software yield more value from their business content and knowledge workers over time.

As Customers evolve, so must businesses and their IT solutions – or else they must be prepared to face the risk of losing customers to competitors that do. What do you think?

Share your thoughts and let’s continue the conversation. Tweet to: @MAttarECM

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Guest Contributor : Mohammed Attar

mattar

Mohammed Attar joined IBM in 2006 as part of the FileNet acquisition. Mohammed has over 15 years of experience in the ECM space, and is currently serving as the IBM Case Manager Business, Product and Strategy Leader. Mohammed has extensive experience both in product development and management. Mohammed started his career as a Software Engineer focused Performance & Systems Analysis. He later spent time serving as a Product Manager over the IBM ECM Platform. In 2008, Mohammed led his first development team, and since then has continued to serve in a leadership capacity in the business. Mohammed was one of the original development managers responsible for the design, development, and delivery of IBM Case Manager. Mohammed holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from California State University, Fullerton. You can follow him on Twitter @MAttarECM.