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How Can Government CIO's Use Technology to Manage Policy Priorities?
The Single Most Important Thing When Implementing a Document Management System
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How Can Government CIO's Use Technology to Manage Policy Priorities?
The list of Government technology and policy priorities may seem daunting, but CIO’s and department directors now have access to technology solutions that can address and solve multiple challenges at one time.
Five of the top ten management and policy priorities of 2010 include:
1. Budget and cost control: managing busget reduction, strategies for savings, reducing or avoiding costs
2. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: execution, support, reporting, and data management
Security: risk assessment, security safeguards, enterprise policies, employee education, data protection, and insider threat
Transparency: open government, performance measures and data, accountability, and access to government data
5. Governance: improving IT governance and data governance
Two of the top ten technology priorities of 2010 are*:
1. Content management (document / content/ records / e-mail): for archiving and digital preservation)
2. Cloud computing / software as a service
So how can management use the above technologies to conquer the key areas on their list?
Software-as-a-service based document and records management solutions not only remove the burden of costly infrastructure, but also the burden on departmental IT resources. As a subscription service, costs are controlled and predictable. Security and security policies are managed within the secure data facility ensuring the safeguards needed for data protection and removing insider threats. Applications that monitor and track every activity assists departments with reporting, performance measures and accountability.
So how does a government agency improve its cost control? That answer is easy, automation. One of the best places to automate, and usually the easiest, is to eliminate common paper processes. Government agencies drown in paper every day. Documents are filed, copied, mailed, e-mailed, faxed, and unfortunately, lost. Processing paper costs a lot of money and the staff needed to process the paper cost a lot of money. Wouldn’t these individuals provide more value if they weren’t pushing paper?
Here’s a real life example of this: Automating the Affordable Housing Grant Process. The transition from paper documents to electronic documents speeds up interactions between government employees and their customers.
One Affordable Housing Department currently has grants for millions of dollars which they disperse to eligible citizens seeking affordable housing. Processing the paperwork for these grants could be extremely paper intensive. Without a document management system, the process is dependent upon staff making copies of applications and supporting documents, receiving faxes, mail, sending e-mails etc.
After automating the intake and review process, documents are captured as they come into the department, routed electronically to the reviewers and stored electronically. Now everyone can log into the system from anywhere (inside the office and remote field locations), review the documents, status and messages related to the files, thus expediting the processing time, reducing costs and adhering to their compliance mandates.
In addition to efficiency, comes a reduced interaction with customers, resulting in a reduction in customer service costs. This may sound circular, but it’s very logical. We’ve all had the reverse experience where the worse something gets, the longer it takes to resolve, hence the phrase “downward spiral”.
So why doesn’t every government agency automate? Or why don’t they at least automate their paper processes? Just because an answer is easy, doesn’t mean it’s simple to implement or that they know where to begin. Technology may be the answer, but it can also be the problem.
When you look at a government agency that needs to automate their processes, typically you see an agency with a very old legacy system. It may have done the job for them originally, but now is ineffective and too costly to maintain or upgrade. Unfortunately, technology procurement cycles in the government can take a long time. The procurement process has failed to keep up with the newer technologies that have evolved using subscription services.
These subscription-based solutions can be up and running in hours vs. months or years.
Further, these systems have the added value of being very user friendly and flexible, removing the need for expensive, ongoing vendor services. Today’s web-based interfaces can allow government agencies to make the changes they need without vendor interaction.
Many agencies, however, still think that procuring a new system can be disruptive in terms of both the procurement cycle and the resulting implementation. In fact, they are actually losing money, resources and budget by not making changes.
At Document Advantage Corporation, we’ve addressed both issues for government agencies. DocuVantage OnDemand® is a hosted document management platform that is very easy to deploy. This enables organizations to be up and running in hours or days, instead of weeks to months.
DocuVantage OnDemand is available on GSA for a low monthly subscription. This eliminates the headaches associated with procurement. In Florida, we even have a blanket contract that any Florida State, County or Local agency can use.
For more information on the electronic document management systems we’ve deployed at different government departments and agencies, please visit http://www.docuvantage.com/document-management-for-government.
*NASCIO's annual list of Top 10 Policy and Technology Priorities
The Single Most Important Thing When Implementing a Document Management System
Document management systems are used for a wide range of applications. They can be used to process invoices, manage contracts, route resumes, monitor grants, etc… The list is almost endless. However all of these solutions have a lot in common and they all have one thing that can make or break a system.
So let’s discuss some document basics. All document management solutions enable users to store and retrieve documents. Further, every document has a purpose. This purpose might be to chronicle an event or a transaction, it might be to describe an asset, or it might trigger an event. The disposition of any documents is dependent upon what type of document it is or where it is in the “document life cycle”.
Before we discuss disposition or life cycle, we need to layout what a document might contain. Documents may contain
3. Fields of Information
So why does it matter what they contain? A key to a successful implementation is upfront planning. Before you sign a contract, before you install software, and before you store your first document, you have to analyze your existing documents along with the document flow in your organization.
The information on a document allows you to classify the document, which in turn allows you to build a document structure that makes it easy to find documents. Documents tend not to be stand alone items. Documents are often associated with other related documents.
If you’ve ever bought a car, you know that there was a purchase agreement, a finance agreement, an insurance document, a registration document and a title. All of these different documents are related to each other. They all probably contain the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the owner’s name and probably the owner’s address.
Using the car example above, your finance company probably has a copy of most, if not all of these documents. They also have them for all their other customers. Retrieving the right documents is faster when these documents are stored in an electronic document management system and indexed by the correct fields.
In your organization, you might process invoices. These invoices might have purchase orders associated with them. Depending upon what types of invoices you are paying, there might also be shipment receipts, acceptance documents or even contracts. Again, all of these documents would be related to each other. In this case, they would probably have Vendor information, PO numbers and delivery addresses in common.
The point is that no matter what type of documents you process, documents are related to other documents, and it’s important to be able to retrieve all related documents with a simple search command. When viewed together, documents tell a more complete story and enable staff to make better decisions.
What’s contained on a document is only part of the analysis. It’s also important to know who uses your documents, for what purpose and then what they do with them. Understanding this document flow enables you to set up your document management system to route documents, which in turn speeds up your decision making processes.
The first step in understanding the document flow is to identify the stages of a document and determine who creates, views, modifies, deletes or archives these documents. This is what’s known as the document life cycle. Documents can be more, or less, important depending upon where they are in their life cycle. If we use the invoice example above, an invoice that is due might be considered more important than an invoice that was paid years ago.
It’s this understanding of the document flow that enables the routing of documents based on their status, or where they are in the life cycle, which increases efficiency throughout an organization.
By now you’ve probably guessed that the single most important thing in implementing a document management system is upfront planning. Well, it’s not. Surprised? Everything has led up to this very reasonable conclusion.
To be fair, upfront planning is important in any implementation. But the upfront planning only helps ensure that you get the single most important thing right.
The single most important thing is user acceptance. All too often systems are implemented that never get used, or they don’t get used to their full potential. This happens for a variety of reasons; one of which is poor planning. Even with good planning, however, users may not accept the system.
So how do you ensure that users accept the system and use it to their full potential? Now, the answer might not seem fair, but it’s in the upfront planning. If you involve user representatives who understand their documents and their current processes, you are much more likely to get buy in. That’s not the only factor for success, but it certainly helps.
Training the users, having a system that’s easy to use, and getting user buy in upfront, will all contribute to having a successful implementation. And in the end, what counts is that your document management system is used to its full potential and improves efficiency in your organization.
DocuVantage has years of experience in this area and will help you begin the
process. We will be there as your company evolves from manual paper processes to streamlined electronic processes. Our goal is not to just solve today’s problem, but to assist you in streamlining your processes and document challenges throughout your organization. Ask our customers how they use DocuVantage OnDemand throughout their organizations.
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