Workflow Automation Software

Millennia Group Blog

Try doing less, it really works

via Flickr - Juhan Sonin

It is usually with good intentions that a project is tackled with extreme attention to detail.  Every possible variation of input and output are considered and analyzed.  Focus groups are put together to gather information from all interested parties.  The process is time consuming but can result in some good data being gathered and a successful project outcome.  It is the right way to do things.

Now the hard part is trying determine how users will find that data if they need it again.  The data that was gathered may have dug up some minutia but also large sets of data that will be used every day.  The trick is to provide the everyday user with the ability to find information in a few clicks (simple interface) but also provide a way to find that one obscure piece of data.  Can a one size fits all search work? 

An example may be the best way to explain this.  Think about your grocery store.  The food is organized in groupings by type of food or ethnicity.  All the cereal is in one place as are the eggs.  It’s not efficient to configure the store such that all food produced in Sioux Falls Idaho is one place and all food from Traverse City Michigan is in another.  That may be very useful to the one shopper that happens to need something they saw on the Food Network, but not useful for the other 99 out of 100 shoppers.

Searching for data or documents needs to follow the same basic rules.  Building a search interface that will work for all users in all situations is noble, but not practical or efficient.  Build a primary search interface that is useful to the majority of users.  Then provide options for advanced searches either through a secondary interface or filters on the primary search results.  In a nutshell, keep your primary search interface targeted to no more than 5 or 6 optional pieces of data.

The end result of giving users less to search on will be more efficiency, greater happiness with the system and less complaints.  So as fun as it is to try to build the do-all application, all of your users, even the super searchers will be happier if you provide multiple options.  If you are the grocery store owner, just put in an end cap with all the awesome food from Sioux Falls.

Millennia Group provides workflow and document management solutions.,

Absolutely positively this is the one

via Flickr - Dan Zen and William HookLet’s face it, if we encounter 10 of our co-workers during the day, it would be impossible to categorize all 10 as highly structured, organized rule followers.  It might be more realistic to say maybe three of the 10 fit that description.  If you extrapolate those numbers out in a company of 1,000 employees, that is 700 employees that can take a unique approach to structure and organization.  No big deal unless any one of those 1,000 employees needs to go back to find a document because the CEO has a question.

An easy way to turn all 1,000 employees into super organized, happy rule followers is to use electronic workflows where-ever possible.  The end result of workflow is the final, approved set of information upon which all employees can rely.  There will be no more guessing on which supporting documents were the basis for the final credit approval or what version of a spreadsheet was the final one used in the report.  All users will be able to confidently say to the CEO, Yes, this is absolutely, positively the one.

If the 700 semi-rule following employees are entrusted to manage their daily tasks in a loosely structured environment, most will likely complete those tasks in an acceptable amount of time.  What type of carnage they left on the file server to achieve completion is another matter.  All 1,000 employees are at risk of wasting time trying to find the final version of a document or documents that were the basis for the transactions or decisions derived from those tasks.  That is costly and unacceptable.

The technology to turn every-day business tasks into efficient electronic workflows is not necessarily new nor revolutionary.  There are plenty of examples of very capable and affordable workflow solutions that can help a company process new vendors, expense reports, even tech support calls.  Budgets can be created in an online system and routed for review and approval.  Document management systems can help you take a collection of documents supporting a loan request through review and approval.

Don’t let the type of tasks discourage your vision of what can be.  Affordable, secure and reliable technologies are available to make processes more efficient and effective.  Digital workflow processes can be simple two step processes all the way to highly complex ones with 20 steps or more.  Regardless of how complex the process, the end result always produces documents and data that will need to be referenced again at some point.  Use workflow to gather the relevant information, whether that is documents or data, route it through the logical process and when complete, retain that cohesive package of information as the final truth.

Breaking through the barrier to get that first workflow established will be the tip of the iceberg.  Users will see the value and the benefits to their daily lives and the company will reap tremendous benefits.  Just think of how much money the company will save when all 1,000 employees are no longer wasting time, especially the CEO’s time, searching to find the elusive final version.

Millennia Group provides document management and workflow solutions that help make companies more efficient and effective.,

To Repair or Replace

via Flickr - Tetsuya Yamanoto, click for licenseMost likely every business school in the country teaches a section on lease versus buy analysis.  That may be trickier now with the constant tax law changes, but nonetheless, it is a systematic approach to comparing the cost variables and economic benefits of each option.  The end result of the analysis will hopefully provide a clear choice that shows one option with a superior return on investment.

Believe it or not, this type of analysis is helpful in the document management world as well.  It’s called the repair or replace quandary.  We find that a high percentage of companies that completed a scanning project, or inherited the end product of one, found that the work was poor quality.  This makes it difficult and frustrating for users to find important information.  Does it make more sense to repair the damage or just start over?

For the repair option, it is important to understand the scope of the problem and the type of problem.  How many documents are affected?  Is it hundreds or tens of thousands?  Was it that all documents were scanned as one giant PDF?  Maybe it was missing pages or documents.  Maybe it was poor naming convention.  It’s also important to know if the paper still exists or not.  It’s difficult to repair poor scan quality when you can’t go back and rescan the original.  

Think about the skill set of the people that would be required to repair a particular type of problem.  If missing documents or pages is the issue, that requires costly, detail-oriented labor.  If the problem is separating out a single PDF into multiple documents, that may be an easier task if the documents are standardized and can be readily identified.  If the documents are not standardized, the level of skill increases and the cost follows. 

Don’t forget to consider the process, tools and equipment that would be necessary to efficiently repair files.  If it’s an audit with rescanning, the original copies and a scanner are needed.  But technical talent may be required to replace the files hosted in a document management system.  When the scope involves large batches of PDFs that need splitting or re-naming of documents, a tool that can efficiently feed up new files and make it easy to complete the necessary tasks will be required.

Starting over or replacing the files is a possible option and should be considered when the documents in question are accessed frequently and mission critical.  Starting over is also a valid option when the problem is missing pages or potentially missing documents from a collection.  The cost to audit the files and find the problems may be higher than staring over.  Renaming documents or splitting up PDFs into separate documents are more likely “repair” options.

Look at the scope of the problem.  Understand the various costs involved based on each option, including human costs, as well as the potential need for new applications or hardware and project management time.  Then consider what the need is for a clean repository and compare the costs to the benefit.  That sounds a lot like a lease versus buy analysis. 

Millennia Group provides document imaging services along with workflow and document management solutions.  Contact us –,, (630) 279-0577


via Flickr, BodoAs businesses become more micro focused on efficiency, the number of highly targeted software solutions treating one specific pain, soar.  Examples include expense report management or employee onboarding solutions.  These are cloud based, third party solutions that typically generate a “document” as an end product or include supporting document attachments. 

That point solution may in fact become relied upon by the business users as their document system because that’s where they go to find the documents they need.  It’s not uncommon for these applications to list document management as a feature.  The functionality doesn’t qualify it as a document management solution and the organization should be careful to accept it as that, no matter whatcha call it.

The information and documents in these solutions are likely well organized given that it is a highly focused solution.  The information and documents may be protected and tracked as most hosted solutions manage that by default.  It is even possible that access can be managed to permit other users to access the information and to share it.  Sounds like it could be document management.

However, those solutions are really more a process tool that happens to include documents.  That is more workflow than document management.  The fact that it provides easy access and a well organized repository does not mean it should be treated as document management.  The solution may not meet the organizations compliance requirements, which may include records retention and legal holds.  Just the fact that it is a separate solution makes the “management” component more difficult.

However, the good work being done by that solution should be and most likely can be extended.  The information should be exportable to the sanctioned document management system (DMS).  The export would ideally be programmatic and via a secure API process.  That could be part of the workflow.  For example, when the task is complete, that triggers the push of the information to the DMS.  But even a simple download and upload to the DMS would be better than nothing. 

The point solution may be producing information that is valuable to other users in the organization.  Make sure that information is available to those other users in a format and via search context that makes sense to them, not just the primary user.  So, no its not document management, but it is good information that is well positioned as an input for a document management system.  Call it what you want, but don’t treat it as document management.

Millennia Group provides workflow and document management solutions that make it easy for users to find the information that they are looking for. For more information, contact us at, or (630) 279-0577 x122.

Collaboration requires collaboration

Every business wants its staff to perform at its peak and to get one plus one to equal three through communication and collaboration.  Collaboration can be complicated, even with technology.  Maybe the best way to highlight how complicated collaboration can be, is to think about the creation of a report that summarizes a new project.

The report could span multiple departments or even include inputs from outside parties.  Therefore, security becomes an issue.  Some collaboration may be parallel such as when working on budget numbers simultaneously in an online spreadsheet.  Other collaboration may be sequential wherein the spreadsheet then provides input for the narrative part of the report – can’t start one without the other. The archival of the completed report needs to be managed as well.  These are all issues that make any single technology solution a difficult fit.

To achieve a good fit using document management requires significant flexibility in the application.  Collaboration in the parallel sense (joint creation of a spreadsheet), requires integration with a cloud spreadsheet solution.  Collaboration in the sequential sense requires workflow with rules and reporting to make sure the next person is notified and bottlenecks can be identified.  When the collaboration reaches outside the organization or across departments, security must be manageable as well.

Not only do files and documents need to be shared in the typical collaborative environment, but also communication like notes, comments and questions.  This could be partially handled via chat windows within the application or the ability to store notes or even attach emails.  Scheduling of tasks may also be required for a collaborative project.  Very few, if any document management systems support chat windows, integrated task lists and calendars, at least without being too clunky.

There are many project and team site applications out there like Asana, Basecamp and Teamwork to name a few.  These are built to help manage the flexibly part of collaboration and can even help retain some structure during the process.  None are configured to be the final archive of the information, that is where you need a bridge to your document management system. 

The bottom line is that you actually need to get technology to collaborate to achieve the optimal end to end solution.  That likely means finding a project site that works for you and then configuring that site with the archive site (document management system) in mind.  Ensure a smooth transition from flexible project mode to organized and secure archive mode.  If you can do this, then one plus one will equal three.

Millennia Group provides flexible document management solutions.  For more information contact us at or visit our website –

Downsizing and De-cluttering

via FlickrIn essence, a good records management policy and effort helps companies continuously downsize and de-clutter.  That is not to say that the company moves to a smaller space or reduces headcount.  In this context it is the systematic process of eliminating information that is no longer legally required or relevant to the business.  This sounds fantastic for every company and every employee doesn’t it?

It sounds great to have less irrelevant information to sift through and maybe clearer lines of site to people in cubicles around you, unless you like to work in a bunker.  New office space configurations and the wave of digitization have reduced the chances of boxes piling up.  But even those pesky digital files need to be purged every once in a while.  So why is it so hard to do?

To programmatically or systematically delete files that are no longer legally required or relevant to the business (“Records”) means there must be a few things in place first.  The company will need a records management policy that describes the document classifications (legal record, business record, junk), specifies generally what files fall under each classification and then states the legal or business retention period.  The retention period is the duration (months/years) the file must be retained before it should be destroyed. For instance, retain the customer contract for 3 years after the term expires.

So instantly this highlights some basic challenges.  All files will need to be classified when the file is created or received, including the date of the file.  Secondly, there must be a way to search through all of the company files, where-ever those files reside, to find the ones that meet the criteria for deletion.  Then, and here is the most difficult part – someone needs to actually delete the files!

The benefits of having a records management program in place, as previously mentioned, include less clutter so good information is easier to find and less space, in this case, less gigabytes of storage, which might save some money.  There is also better security over sensitive data and lower exposure to litigation.  Even if it is an ethical, well run business, frivolous lawsuits still cost money and therefore, the ability to quickly prove that no smoking gun exists, is a benefit.

Many document management systems provide the ability to classify documents when they are added to the system.  Many also have the ability to programmatically find and list documents that meet the retention periods and are ready for deletion.  But users still don’t always delete those files, despite wanting the benefits of de-cluttering. 

We have added the ability to hide “retired” information from standard searches into our document management solution.  We have also added the ability to highlight information that is old, but maybe not at the point where it has met the retention period.  So while we understand the benefits of decluttering, we also understand the fear of wiping out information that could, just maybe, once in a blue moon, possibly, come in handy.

Millennia Group provides workflow and document management solutions that are flexible, effective and smart.  For more information –, or (630) 279-0577 x122.

Are you who you say you are?

via Flickr -  David Martyn HuntIf you’re a fraudster you can easily obtain a fake driver’s license or passport.  You can create a fake social media profile complete with fake friends.  It’s difficult to confirm the actual identity of someone without a DNA profile or finger print on file with the FBI.  And that is for confirming someone in person much less remotely.

The widespread use of electronic signatures has taken longer than some people expected and that is partially due to the ability to verify the signers.  If we could feel as comfortable with the validity of the electronic signature as we do with a wet signature, electronically signed documents would become the norm.  But electronic signatures come in varying degrees of authenticity so which one do you use?

Electronic signatures can include a simple, dropped in jpg of a signature on a document, maybe suitable for internal memos.  Other forms of electronic signature include one that the recipient adds the signature to a trusted list in Acrobat or Word for instance because they know the senders email and have talked to them on the phone.  That would be perfectly acceptable for many types of B2B or B2C contracts. 

However, the ultimate electronic signature is known as a Digital Signature and that includes obtaining verification of the signer from an unaffiliated third party.  The third party first must confirm the identity of the signer, which is not quite an FBI review, but does practically eliminate risk.  The signer pays an annual fee for the initial verification and to generate the unique encrypted code that ties to the signature.  If you don’t have a password to the code, then you can’t use the signature – it’s not you.

When the somewhat complex and costly initial setup process for a truly verified Digital Signature has been simplified, it is likely that the percentage of contracts signed electronically will explode.  The trusted third parties might turn out to be a function of banks which could bring cost down.  Video cams are being used to add a virtual notary component to the process, which further reduces risk.  Seamless integration with applications is happening now.  The impediments are quickly fading.

The prospect of both parties to a transaction having trust in the digital signature can provide many benefits for both sides.  There is the cost savings of not producing and sending paper copies.  There is the time savings from not having to involve a notary or to wait for the paper delivery.  One of the most significant benefits is the ability to transform old processes into efficient digital workflows, which provide tracking, reminders and mobility.

Look at the processes in your company that involve contracts or signing documents, even internal documents.  Understand the need, chose an appropriate solution and start reaping the benefits of electronic signatures. 

Millennia Group, LLC provides workflow and document management solutions – Information [Found} is Power.,

Too many to choose from

Via Flickr - Chris WinterDo you ever marvel at the number of choices available in the bottled water aisle at any grocery store or online market? There are dozens of options to choose from.  How about barbeque sauces, bourbon, pizza or crackers?  There are far too many choices and it gets frustrating and time consuming to make any kind of decision.

This has some similarities to the frustration many people experience when they are searching for a file at work.  They may find a copy of the file duplicated in multiple places.  Determining which copy is the final version is both time consuming and frustrating.  The process of de-duplicating is not an easy task, but reducing our choices has obvious benefits and it can be done.

In document management terms, de-duplicating is the process of eliminating redundant copies of files.  In this digital file dominated era, file copies can be in many places including cloud storage, network drives, local drives and even as email attachments – cc’d to many people.  Making sure that all employees are looking at, and making decisions on, the same file is very important.

The challenge is two pronged; 1) figuring out how to clean up the existing mess and 2) preventing it from happening in the first place.  Cleaning up the existing mess involves a combination of technology and labor.  The technology can be as simple as finding all files with the same filename and properties (date modified, file size, creator, number of words, etc.) to actually comparing the content of the files.  For full comparison, some files may need to be opened and reviewed, especially scanned documents.

After the duplicates are identified, the technology takes over to separate and re-file the known, record copies into a new, organized structure.  Preventing the duplicates from happening in the first place starts with a well organized and easily understood filing structure or taxonomy.  Eliminate rogue silos of files being kept by employees and merge the silos into a single document management system or as few storage locations as possible.

Then to really cut down on duplicates, institute cloud based file sharing or use a cloud based document management solution.  Actual files don’t need to be emailed around, just links back to the single, record copy.  Also look at using workflow to capture the creation, revisions, approval and ultimately the archival of the final version of the documents.  Don’t put your employees in a situation where the choices are a burden – start to de-duplicate.

Blockchain will heat up your document strategy

via Flickr - sicilianoWe recently attended and exhibited at a technology trade show for the commercial real estate industry. The technologies that were in the spotlight were wide ranging from remotely monitored and controlled water values to AI solutions for recurring administrative tasks. Less “hot” technologies were also represented like accounting, lease management and of course workflow and document management systems.

Blockchain is poised to spice up the future of the document management world. There is quite a way to go before transactions are conducted and documented with blockchain documents. However, the concept is promising and it is sure to have an impact on how documents are stored, created, shared and even alter the definition of a document.

First, some background. Blockchain is a word that is used to describe a method of storing information that makes it extremely difficult to alter. The information is encrypted and redundant copies are essentially kept in a de-centralized record system, blocks. Theoretically, if you open a document that is stored (or its code [aka hash] is stored) in the blockchain, you can instantly verify if it has been altered. All references to the document (hash) stored in the blocks will match, which validates the document.

Once a document has been signed by both parties and the final version is stored in the blockchain, both parties can feel comfortable they will be referencing the same, final document. The question is how do you do that? If your organization stores its legal documents on a network drive, how it is validated? Possibly, when the document is opened it will automatically use the internet to confirm the hash/code with the blockchain.

If your organization uses a document management system, it will need to allow some communication with the blockchains to verify documents. Notice the plural use of the word blockchains. There is no restriction on who can establish a blockchain so each industry might have one or some large company may create one. Therefore, your document management system must be capable of accessing all of them. In fact, that is how the current digital signature industry works, only each digital signature player acts as the blockchain (DocuSign, RightSignature, etc.).

Some documents, like the simple apartment lease or mobile phone service agreement, might actually be data files only and all data would be stored in the blockchain. Therefore, no document actually exists, but both parties can access the information about the unalterable terms via their contract application. Those are situations that are referred to as smart contracts since the data can include both banks account numbers and therefore, the blockchain can automatically request payment and make a payment. No real need for a document management system.

More complex transactions have more complex documents and would not likely be good candidates for smart contracts. And the blockchain doesn’t necessarily offer privacy, which also might deter use for complex transactions. Deeds and other property records, that are ultimately public record, might be good candidates for blockchain and might be cost effective compared to paper. The bottom line is that there is a lot to be worked out and some things may change and other things may radically change. There is no doubt, this will change how all organizations manage documents.  Stay tuned.

Millennia Group provides workflow and document management solutions.  Visit for more information or send an email to

Email is not dead, just mature

via Flickr - Quinn DobrowskiYour email solution used to be both your communication tool and document management solution.  Everyone was sending messages and documents to everyone else and then just creating a nice neat (sometimes) folder structure to save the emails for future reference.  For a while that was a tremendous improvement over phone calls, stacks of paper and filing cabinets.

Then came the demand for corporate wide information access and individual user email accounts were demoted and retention policies were implemented.  The next dagger was the lack of encryption on standard email such that corporate information was therefore at risk.  Possibly the final blow is that email became a spam fest.  But wait, email is not dead and there are good reasons why.

Really an email is a document, a record, a corporate asset that should be treated as such.  Email, as opposed to messaging, is used when there’s a desire on the sender’s part to memorialize the conversation or message.  What once was accomplished by writing a letter, is now frequently accomplished by sending a well written email.  These writings are now retained or should be retained in your document management system.

Messaging apps, by contrast, are used as casual conversation or quick thought tools.  It would take some clean up before you would generally want to archive a message thread in the corporate document management system.  A quick word of caution – messaging apps are subject to legal discovery, so be careful what you do say.  Messaging has probably replaced many phone calls and reduced the number of three-word email responses.  But messaging is not generally used to memorialize corporate actions, decisions or activity.

Standard email is still not encrypted and caution should be used when sending confidential information in the body or as attachments.  Secure email systems do exist and should be used to transmit confidential information and documents.  The email itself may be a document record and if so, should be added to your document management system.  Your document management system should make it easy to add email messages in and allow you to securely share documents externally via email.

Email has replaced letter writing.  The email itself has become a document.  Email is readily available on your desktop or your phone.  It is cost effective compared to delivery services.  There are also secure email methods available either within your document management system or with secure email applications.  Email is not dead, it’s use has finally matured to a point where it is both communication tool and recognized corporate record.

Millennia Group provides workflow and document management solutions.  For more information, visit our website at or contact us via email at