Workflow Automation Software

One Super Versatile Tool

The concept of putting a checklist application online and incorporating file attachments has really sparked a great deal of interest. Like our last post, the interest has come from business areas that we did not anticipate. Therefore, we are starting to casually refer to CollectDocs as the Duct Tape application – it has a million uses.

The number of uses has increased with our addition of Tasks and Data collection to the types of items that can be part of a checklist. When CollectDocs was first created, it only allowed items to be file attachments. Now a checklist can be file attachments combined with some tasks that need to be completed and even some data points that need gathering. Behold, a simple workflow tool.

  • Tax preparer – use it for collecting the client’s w2’s, 1099’s, real estate taxes and other receipts and documentation
  • Accounting Department – use it to gather all the sub-reports needed for the quarterly financial statement preparation
  • HR Department – use it to gather the on-boarding or new hire documents
  • Procurement Officer – use it to gather the w-9, ISO certifications, materials content statement, the contract, the NDA, etc
  • Leasing Agent – use it to gather the background check, the lease, the prior landlord recommendation, the income verification, etc

And on and on. Such a simple idea that every company uses throughout the organization only now it has actual functionality and can significantly improve a process.

If you use a paper checklist or a folder system on the shared drive to manage the collection of information, we would love to hear what that process is. Thank you.

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When is a Million Not a Million and Who Cares?

Most of our customers and prospects look at a wall of file cabinets or room full of boxes and immediately think “there must be a million pages here”. They may be right, but they may be wrong. The correct answer or as close as you can get to the correct answer is extremely important in terms of the total cost of your imaging project and justifying your project.

If the cost to scan, prep, index and re-assemble (I don’t like just saying the “cost to scan”, since scanning is far more complicated than a single step) is $0.10 per page it makes a big difference if you have 1,000,000 pages or 100,000 pages. There is a huge difference between a budget of $100,000 and $10,000. As an example of how important page count is to the total project budget lets see what the budget is if we increase the cost per page by 50%.

If the project includes 100,000 pages and the cost per page increases by 50% to $0.15 per page, the budget increases from $10,000 to $15,000. $5,000 is a lot of money, but that difference is not usually a show stopper. So if a prospect call us and says “I need a quote to scan 100,000 pages”, we can misjudge the complexity of the project by 50% and not really jeopardize the budget or shock the prospect.

If the prospect had said, “I think we must have 1,000,000 pages to scan”, then it really doesn’t matter what the price per page is, the nominal amount of the budget increases so dramatically that it does become a show stopper. Of course 1,000,000 pages at $0.10 is $100,000, much different than $10,000. Even if we are off on the price by 50%, $150,000 is really not in a different league than $100,000.

This is why page count is so important. Take a close look at the documents in the file cabinets and in the boxes. Maybe there are documents that really don’t need to be scanned, which may significantly reduce page count. Take some test counts of the pages in each box or each folder and try to accurately extrapolate out the total number of actual pages that will be scanned. You might also be able to split the project into smaller parts to spread the budget out over a longer period of time.

Price per page is important and there are many variables that go into the cost of any project. However, an accurate estimate of the total page count will typically have the largest impact on total project cost.

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Compliance and Audit – Imaging Helps

Two business areas that can benefit, or suffer, from imaging are compliance and audits. Here is why – unless your imaging process is tightly controlled, the risk of mis-information is equal to or greater than a paper based system. What could be some control points. Centralized scanning could be. This might create a bit more consistency in how documents are classified and saved vs leaving that task up to every individual user in the company. There will undoubtedly be spelling errors, mis-interpretations, mistakes and duplicated efforts, some of which might go away with centralized operations. A review step can also help, but that adds a layer of management and cost on the process. Structured file names. Can work, but round things don’t always fit into square holes nicely. Workflow rules. That is a great way to ensure consistency and accuracy. A component of Workflow is source data as in matching invoices to the source accounting entry in the accounting system or matching the contract to the customer in the CRM. More to come.

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Cost Benefit Analysis of Imaging

Who doesn’t smile when they order a turkey sandwich for $5 and it comes piled high with carved turkey, a pickle, a bag of chips and a drink – That is a positive cost benefit relationship. But that same order might cost $20 – That is a negative cost benefit relationship for most of us I presume.

Is there any way to ensure the positive outcome each and every time for each and every customer (User)? You can plan as best you can, but there is probably no way to please all people all the time. You may serve great turkey, the best pickle and all the other good stuff they wanted but the mustard you provide is way to spicy.

How does this relate to document imaging project planning? In the end, there is going to be a need to identify the really critical areas that the users focus on and demand for their daily work. Take a deep look at need versus want to get these answers. How often do I need to see these documents? Exactly which documents are important to which users? Are documents for in-active accounts important? Maybe for only the first 6 months (only scan active accounts and in-active accounts that are less than 6 months old). Does each folder only have 10 pages in it? Consider scanning it as one – 10 page document instead of the more costly 10 – one page documents (each named and dated which takes time and hence money).

Most of the cost of an imaging project is invested in the categorization or indexing of the documents so they can be retrieved later with simple searches. There may be 20 different relative items for a single document, but maybe 98% of the time only 4 or 5 would be used to find it. The cost of capturing all 20 would be far greater than the 4 or 5 yet not provide the overwhelming majority of users with satisfaction.

These are just some of the ways to look at imaging projects. The process to arrive at these answers is well worth the effort and will help ensure that you get the best possible Positive cost benefit relationship.

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The Beginning

We have all seen or used a checklist in our lives. In business in particular, a document checklist is ubiquitous. There are lists of documents to collect for bringing on a new customer or vendor. Every new employee has a list of documents that are required. There are lists for gathering loan documents or for buying a property. There are extensive lists for acquiring a company.

One list that is not generally thought of as a list are the file folders that have been set up on the computer or in SharePoint or Aren’t the collection of folders just a list of sorts? The folders are used to store the digital files that are shown on the list. Granted, some documents are still in paper, but most users would prefer to have all the files electronically.

The only thing is, the list and the folders are separate. This phenomenon struck us as an oversight of a simple solution. So we created, the features of a checklist and file storage all in the same place.

So now there exists an online document checklist with the power to also store the files. It goes well beyond that, which I will discuss in future posts. The reason for the blog is that this is a difficult concept to get across. So I am asking for help to determine why a checklist with file attachment is not as common as one would think and also to find all of the potential uses of such a tool.

I greatly appreciate your feedback and I look forward to talking about all the great uses we discover.

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