FOSE 2011, plus ECM’s Benefits To Your Agency

Last week as I walked the exhibition hall at FOSE 2011, I was amazed at how much innovation is aimed at making our United States Government (the greatest in the world) even better. I had some great conversations with government employees, consultants, and vendors who are trying hard to make agencies more efficient, more effective-in other words, to make our government leaner while providing better service to the taxpayer. While some people expect the Beltway to be packed with lazy bureaucrats, intent on inefficient and bloated organizations, I have not met many of those types. Perhaps they attend a different conference?

With the current paradigm of lower budgets and fewer employees providing more services, your agency may be thinking, “Enough! I have already lost too much and can’t find anywhere else to cut!” I hear you. In my last post, I talked about all the things you stand to lose with ECM. Enough talk about cuts, let’s talk about some gains!

Here are five things your Agency can expect to gain when you implement ECM:

1. Sleep: I have met a lot of government employees, and the vast majority seems to have one thing in common: they really care about doing a great job. I hear from my government friends that they are very concerned about security and disaster recovery. Some have even lost sleep as they mull over the possibility that important and sensitive documents may be viewed by the wrong people, lost, destroyed, or released to the public without proper review and redaction. No one wants their 15 minutes of fame to be caused by an event like that. ECM can help you control access to your documents through security and audit policies. And in the event of a flood, fire, or other catastrophic event you will be able to restore every record because the digital world can be archived, migrated and restored much easier than the paper world.

2. Space: Paper is bulky, heavy, flammable, and requires large cabinets, rooms, doors, and reinforced flooring. And that’s all when you’re done using it for right now and need to store it. While you’re using it, paper remains bulky, flammable, and it takes up space on your desk. When you arrive at your desk on Monday morning, would you rather see a new stack of paper demanding your attention, or a small plant and framed photo of a loved one? If you said “a new stack of paper” then you are probably not in touch with the rest of your team. Bringing those invoices, employee files, contracts, and other documents into an enterprise content management (ECM) system means your desktop is available to host your collection of fast food happy toys, or your feet while you enjoy a few minutes of throwing birds at pigs.

3. Time: Your ECM workflow system will get the documents and other content to the right place at the right time. You can also set alerts in workflow so you know when new documents have arrived, or when they have been on someone’s “desk” for too long. How much time does your team spend searching for documents, catalogs, contracts, faxes, and pictures? With ECM, that content can be stored in context with the applications driving your business process, making them easy to find when you need them.

4. Money: To justify your ECM project, ask your vendor to help you calculate the Return On Investment (ROI) that can be expected. ROI is a balance of the system’s costs versus what you are already spending today on your current process. For example, in a paper-based invoice payment process you may employ ten people just to keep track of the paper until it is paid and filed away. Of course, those ten people also wear other hats, and all ten will be busier than a flea in a kennel full of dogs when your department is audited. With ECM, you might find that all ten people can spend more time on other tasks when they are shuffling, filing, searching for, making copies of, and cursing at paper. That productivity gain counts towards your ROI. You may even find some of those ten people can be reassigned, reducing the labor costs of the invoice payment process. Finally, reducing your audit response time and impressing the socks off the audit team will reap benefits beyond the obvious financial savings.

5. Respect: When you sleep better, you will look better, feel better, and think better. Your peers will notice. Then, when you pass your audit with flying colors, your leaders will notice. Other agencies will notice the increased productivity, the better employee retention figures, and the additional office space. They will respond with respect-perhaps tinged with some jealousy–and everyone is going to notice the additional money you have to spend on high-priority projects when ECM is able to streamline your processes. What I’m trying to say is, maybe Rodney Dangerfield could have used a little ECM!

I hope to hear more stories from government agencies whose work force can sleep better; that are able to free up more space, time, and money; and that find they’ve earned the respect of their peers after a successful ECM project. I don’t wish an audit on anyone, but if you are audited I hope you have a game-changing ECM platform helping you respond quickly with all the records required (and none that are not required.) But mostly, I hope to see you at FOSE next year and hear those stories in person!

Originally published at

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