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Picking up from part one of our replacing state agency legacy document manage system (DMS) conversation, we’re re-joined by Paul Gorman, a former CIO for two state agencies, and Terri Jones, Enterprise Advisor at Hyland Software. Listen in as Paul and Terri continue their conversation on what governments can do when your “whizz-bang” amazing document management system hasn’t aged well, including:

 

  • How to manage the project to avoid potential issues
  • The importance of executive sponsorship
  • The importance of benchmarking
  • The benefits of content management platforms vs. document management

Check out this episode!

Read the Transcript

 

Steve Glisky:

Welcome to the Paperless Productivity podcast, where we have experts give you the insight, know-how and resources to help you transform your workplace from paper to digital, all while making your work life better at the same time. 

Paul Gorman:

Thanks for joining me today. My name is Paul Gorman, your host today. This podcast, When Your Whizz-bang Amazing Document Management System Hasn’t Aged Well”, is the second installment where we are joined by Terri Jones, who was previously directed IT efforts for a large housing finance and community development agency and currently serves as an Enterprise Advisor at Hyland. Today, we’ll continue our conversation on replacing legacy document management systems.  Let’s listen in with Terri where we left off last time.

Paul Gorman:

When you think about content management system replacement, what do you warn people about or, and to be aware of?

Terri Jones:

Yeah. Yeah. There’s a few things and we’ve kind of alluded to some of them, but, but let’s, let’s stay them really say really specifically some of the things. I get really nervous when workflow and that kind of automation tool is not in the content management system. And part of that, my experience has been that when people take a data system and they try to automate what is essentially a process, which at least in the old days, and for many of us still is routing documents around for review and approval.

 

There’s a lot of custom code to make that happen in a data system. And if a process changes as, it so often doesn’t government that becomes an expensive custom code thing. It could break the next time you have to update or upgrade. And so, this is why, when you look at things like the content services magic quadrant, you see a workflow engine included in their review of content services platforms. Because there was something about having the automation sort of advances being with the documents that really drove that industry to come up with better ways to do that. And if you pick the right content services platform, it can do any workflow that you could maybe custom script in in one of those data systems. But more importantly, if you pick the right one, it’s a low code or configuration, which means it’s a sustainable automation tool going forward

 

If you have to change it, it’s much easier and you don’t necessarily have to pay expensive consultants to do it. So separate workflow from content management makes me a little scared because I think the costs of doing that are very difficult for government to afford. I think there’s a need to have a couple of tools like records management built into that since you’re putting the content in there, make sure that there’s a records management tool that lets you handle the retention, because if you’re terribly successful at getting rid of the paper, all of the records are in there.

 

So, how do you purge them? How do you purge them to policy? How do you put, holds on them? You know, how, how is that really going to work if you don’t have a records management tool in that system. And I have seen people use those records management tool in that system. And I have seen people use those records management tools embedded in their content services

platforms to demonstrate to auditors that they have purged a policy. So, if someone comes and asks you for a document, you can use those records management tools to demonstrate that you purged a policy you no longer have that record. And that’s a very important thing because public record requests and stuff like that, it’s has really accelerated in the last couple of years Not addressing all of your integrations is, is another one of those pieces.

 

I’ll tell you that they can integrate, but you kind of need, I would say a spectrum of integration tools. And it depends on really the system that you want to build, but a good content services platform will have sort of. What will we call it? Screen capture screens, screen scraping types of technology so that I can pass a data value and use it to search inside content services platforms to bring my documents back.

 

That’s kind of a generic thing in an imperfect world, your content services platform we’ll have one of those tools. And it has been tested against hundreds of applications. Really important question to ask when you’re looking. But you might also say, “gosh, the whole world is using Salesforce or Workday or Oracle”, or, you know, you’ve got one of those systems you might want to check and make sure that your content services selection has a purpose-built integration for some of those really common types of programs, SAP, Oracle, stuff like that. Because what that means is that vendor likely has a partnership with another system that you spent a lot of money with. And so, you can kind of expect a better and tighter integration and a real complimentary situation, you know, maybe it’s maybe it’s your ESRI GIS solution that you really want to integrate to the documents so you can search by the map, things like that. So, you want to be sure that maybe you’ve got some integrations that are really developed with that other vendor software in mind and that there’s a partnership. And then finally, you may actually want something called an API, which, which I’m sure everyone who’s listening knows about, because sometimes we do work in our content services platform and we want to be able to push that status in an automation project and change the status inside a data system that we’re using. So, in a perfect world when you go out and you look at your content services platforms, you think of sort of three levels of integration and ask. Very specifically for them, because that is going to put you in the best place to kind of create a good end user experience to avoid duplicates in terms of data entry and two systems to allow you to maximize your automation projects by changing statuses and data systems.

 

So, definitely look for a complete integration toolbox. And, and, you know, that really talks a little bit about some of the right types of integration. So, go for the whole toolbox and think about the different ways that you want to do that, whether it’s retrieving a document, whether it’s using data from a system as a search term, whether we want to change that in a one-way or even a two way back and forth between document management, kinds of activities and data stuff.

 

Really important to think ahead and to set expectations, do not make the mistake of investing in such a nice system and then failing to capture early enough in the process. Those kinds of scans store and retrieve, and we scan at the end to just get rid of the file. You’re not delivering much value at that point.

 

You’re not going to be able to automate. You’re not going to be able to support people with compliance tools. You’re not going to give them that great experience on their desk, if you capture too late in the process, even if you have to put aside sort of the backlog of paper files that you want to convert someday start day forward and capture as early as you can. Or sometimes the phrase they say is capture as close to the customer as you can. And in a perfect world, you know, we’re doing electronic forms and we’re also starting to eliminate paper as we get in there but capture early, if it comes in electronically, we capture it at that moment and we get it stored and can offer a variety of ways to make it more efficient to, to retrieve it.

 

Paul Gorman:

Just hopping in here. I’m thinking about when you’re when you’re at this point, you’ve, you’ve basically got your, your project ready to go.  What are, some of the things to look out for in in the project itself? Are there ways in which you should initiate and manage the project to, to avoid potential issue?

Terri Jones:

Yeah. I think that’s a good question. And of course, everybody’s budgets are this or that and people’s head counts or this or that. And, and your IT staff is already supporting whatever you already have. I think. I think it’s really valid to look at outsourcing some of this work.

 

And I think that the capabilities of content services while it’s, it’s, there’s a database there and people understand databases, but I think there’s a lot of value in outsourcing the beginning stages, certainly getting the installation right. And using people who have government experience and content services experience to kind of launch the ship in a good way.

 

And I think. I’m not necessarily saying having a huge, you know, multi-year, whatever those kinds of contracts are that make us nervous sort of engagement. I think there’s tremendous value and using the expertise of vendors that have been doing content services for a long time, and especially doing it in government to advise your team, to help them understand. So that, don’t just have them come in and do the installation, have them come in and really do those first couple of pilot workflows and let your team understand your team, to help them understand. So that, don’t just have them come in and do the installation, have them come in and really do those first couple of pilot workflows and let your team understand how that works. Let them see it in action. Get them trained and certified as well, so they can support it day to day. And then I think the second piece of that is after you’ve, you’ve worked with that vendor, then you know who they are. And when you start to make those bigger moves and maybe you don’t have the biggest IT staff, you can go back to them and, and in more of a project kind of way, have them be sort of the help off the bench. Because you need to kind of surge up and, and have staff come in and get it done. Make sure that your staff is involved as well, so that, you’ve got the documentation and they’re continuing to grow their own experience. So, there’s a, there’s a downside to being too big and outsourcing, and there’s definitely a downside to being too little. I don’t think you should make the mistake of having only the installation be the thing you do, because I think we’re all under pressure to deliver value quickly and being able to outsource to a reputable government experience vendor. Helps us show that value faster. And the time to value is like, you know, it’s a phrase that we’re all hearing a lot.

 

And we know about conversion, right? We know that there are some real pain points to converting from some of those old document management systems. So that is definitely a place to have some help because there are people that do that every day as part of their business.

 

And you want to be on top of that. So, things like annotations are difficult. Many of the older document management systems, and maybe some of the new ones have proprietary wrappers as they’re called around images, you really can’t get them out of their system. That’s sort of like you’re being held hostage. And it’s great that we’re talking about that because that is definitely a piece of advice that I would want to give to people. When you look at your content services platforms, make sure they’re storing in native formats. You know, they should be able to handle PDFs. They should be able to handle Microsoft Office documents. They should be able to handle, of course, TIF images. But proprietary wrappers can make conversion very difficult and very expensive. And you may well want to have the conversation about whether you even convert that, but you surely do want to look for a content services platform that has experienced in that, and maybe can leave that repository in place, never converted, but still retrieve it and render it so the end user can see it. That can be very important. You know, the OCR thing Paul, I like to think of that is salespeople that had sort of low end systems would talk about OCR as being some, you know, really kind of magical capability. If we’re doing our job with keywords, there’s a very limited need for OCR and eventually you know, people, people want to use OCR for things to capture stuff. And that’s a very important conversation, but as sort of a baseline search, I always feel like the OCR comments and, and, and sort of the story that was told was really to sell a system that didn’t have as many retrieval tools.

 

And that’s, before we talk about the accuracy of OCR, the processing time involved. So that’s another one of those topics where I don’t think blanket OCR makes sense for an agency. There could be a reason to do that for capture and more automation, but it shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t be something that you think you have to do for every opp, every team using it.

 

Paul Gorman:

I like the views, the targeted approach on OCR, you pick the type of content we’re trying to get all of the keywords or index values together on it. Wouldn’t work well, like, like meeting minutes or you know, sometimes legal documents or less legal documents for the more than meeting minutes. I would think contracts helps.

 

But I see the, the meeting minutes as being the primary. Reason for OCR and typical organizations, because you just can’t index the, the minutes of the meeting with enough keywords to help you to find contact discussion that may exist in the in the document. They talk about dozens and dozens and dozens of different projects. And you certainly wouldn’t want to index the document with all that.

Terri Jones:

No, you really, you really wouldn’t, and you pointed out a really a good example. I mean, I think, I think things like being able to full text search. Can be very valuable when we’re working with our legal folks and departments that have to search in very robust ways.

 

I think that OCR, as you mentioned can make sense when information is being pulled to help automate. So sometimes we call that a more advanced capture approach. So, having the capability to do that kind of OCR in the platform that you select, is I think useful depending on what your agency is doing. But definitely a blunt object, it needs to be used carefully. And, and that kind of stuff. I think.

 

 

Paul Gorman:

What about the executive sponsorship on these projects?

Terri Jones:

Critical.

Paul Gorman:

You really kind of need some need some senior leadership.

Terri Jones:

You do. And one of the things that’s been really nice about sort of some of the current government trends is to see so much interest in digital transformation. And I think leadership that understands how our constituents and customers have changed knows that getting rid of the paper and having automation to have web-based services and all that kind of stuff is important. So, I feel like this is easier than the old days, Paul, when we were trying to explain to our executives why we would want to do this.

 

But it is still critical because as I said, when we started, we were talking about the roadmap. The approach has to be, you have one, one content system that you’re not going to buy other content systems that we’re going to have these tools and that will be an expectation for end users to use it so that the investment delivers value.

 

And you absolutely need executive sponsorship for that. And I mean, really the, the conversation about how not to roll out an enterprise system starts with well, you know, we didn’t really get our executives on board. They couldn’t articulate the value from their perspective. They couldn’t see how it was aligned with the mission of our agency and the performance measures and indicators that we were trying to achieve. I mean, that’s, that is how not to roll out an enterprise system. And I think the exercise of getting the executive sponsorship helps you with that effort to roll out an enterprise system where you’re also going to have change management, you’re going to respect the challenges that this may present for your end user staff.

 

And you’re going to know that you have to focus on training, and you have to focus on what the value is going to be so that you don’t become one of those folks that invested in an enterprise system that no one in the enterprise is actually using. And you’re that?

 

 

Paul Gorman:

What do you think about that? I mean do you recommend benchmarking, the, you mentioned the initial processes, would you do some benchmarking of those initial processes? So, you could demonstrate the value.

Terri Jones:

You have to do that. And, you know sometimes depending on what our mission is, it’s trickier to benchmark, but we sure should know how fast the process is in its current state, as they say. And then be able to see what the improvement was once it’s deployed, people have been trained and it’s kind of running along.

 

I absolutely think that’s true. And I think. I mean, people have dashboards now and all kinds of crazy apps that we use. So, for us not to take baselines and be able to show how processes have changed means we’re missing the chance to show to our customers known as the taxpayers. How we are doing a better job for them and being better stewards of the money and the investment, we made, because we’re getting to decisions faster.

 

We’re taking action faster and we’re making a bigger impact faster as a result.

Paul Gorman:

I used to say if we were the agency that I was managing a CIO for, if we weren’t McDonald’s, we would have no idea what to sell a hamburger for. Cause we really didn’t see idea what it cost us to create it. So, follow up on something you had mentioned in our first content podcast about content management platforms being distinct from document management. Could you elaborate a little bit on that?

Terri Jones:

These are really important things and we’ve; we’ve talked about a few of them just in some of our, you know, our advice and pitfalls, but. If it’s a real content services platform, there shouldn’t be any limitations on the type of content it can store. And we know that some of these other things that never fit in the file cabinet now need to be stored whether those are audio or video files CAD drawings you know, being related to plans, all that kind of stuff.

 

So, no content type. Limits. We need to be more than just a scanner when it comes to capture. So, we have to be able to capture documents electronically. The last thing we should be doing is scanning. And we will maybe have some, because our customers come in with paper or whatever, but you need electronic capture tools. You need tools to capture out of email. You need the ability to be able to capture and extract data if you are scanning paper. So advanced capture tools and electronic capture tools are very important, whether it’s OCR, as we were talking about ICR, OMR. Being able to recognize what form type it is so we can route it immediately and classify by that form so we can route it immediately. These are all very important distinguishing parts. We need an electronic forms tool to replace all those pieces of paper that we give to people that they give back to us. And it should be able to sit on a public or an internal website so we can get rid of internal forms, as well as external forms and connect them with document and data object, workflow capabilities. So that we can really do that digital transformation. We can even do sort of digital by default, where I submit an electronic form on a website, I upload two pieces of documentation, which were really photos that I took with my smartphone and that stuff can go right into workflow.

 

And if I have a case management capability, which you should also be looking for that the data objects in the case management piece can go through the workflow. So, if I have a case management approach to licensing, like childcare facilities, that facility record can go through a workflow to remind my staff that we’re three months out from their next inspection.

 

And that entire object actually goes through the workflow, not just the documents. We need those integration technologies that we talked about, whether that’s at a document level and a screen scraper, an API, a purpose-built type of integration for your GIS system or office or CAD or something like that.

 

And we need at the end to have a case management tool that’s available to us for those document and process centric, types of activities that our staff does. And to be able to do that in a low code or no code environment, that’s configurable means a sustainable kind of solution that can be very tailored for who we are as government agencies.

 

And when we get to all of it at the end that we have a records management tool. So, when we use the P word platform after content services, those capabilities are really driving the reason why it’s now called a content services platform instead of a document management system. Because the capabilities are all sitting there in that platform and it’s really well-rounded for what we do in government.

 

Paul Gorman:

If you were to contrast that what would a document management system typically provide? In contrast to that content platform.

Terri Jones:

Yeah. Well, a lot of times it’s, it’s pretty limited. It might be exciting enough to be able to accommodate PDF or maybe Word, Word documents so coming out of Microsoft Word. So, it’s, it’s not going to take these other things that have become so important for us. You know, being able to display a site planner or even being able to store audio or video recordings in an optimized way so that the storage is manageable. It’s really only going to let you scan documents.

 

Yeah. Well, a lot of times it’s, it’s pretty limited. It might be exciting enough to be able to accommodate PDF or maybe Word, Word documents so coming out of Microsoft Word. So, it’s, it’s not going to take these other things that have become so important for us. You know, being able to display a site planner or even being able to store audio or video recordings in an optimized way so that the storage is manageable. It’s really only going to let you scan documents.

 

You know, you’re going to have to go to the scanner. You’re going to have to break the news to users that the only way to get things into it is with document scanning and it might be as interesting as having the ability to recognize barcodes, to kind of change how you put keywords on or index, as we say. It may have OCR.

 

A lot of times they talk up the OCR piece because there’s so many limitations. The workflow is really only right click and route to Terri? Click route to Paul. It’s not a true workflow with an engine behind it that can step through business rules and take more complicated things like route to Terri, if it’s $5,000 route to Paul, if it’s $10,000.

 

And, and when you think about it, there’s almost no government process that is simply a route to Terri and it’s over kind of situation. So, the workflow is very limited. The integration suite is really one thing screen scraping. Sometimes they will sort of say, Oh, use this other third-party thing, but then you face that dilemma of are those vendors staying together on the same roadmap going forward.

 

And so, you’re not able to offer. An integration that can change as you change. And so, integration tools really have to be looked at there is usually something that is document retention, but it’s not a real records management kind of tool. And I guess the best way that I can describe that is to say, when we have a file in government, there can be different rules around the different documents in theory, but because the entire file really represents the, sort of the totality of the public record about something you need records management, not just a way to purge document. And you need to be able to do that persistently over years and years and years because government persists, and those records often have to be there long after somebody retires.

 

And then finally, you know, you’ll probably see a very basic like office suite kind of integration. If you’re lucky there will be an icon for the document management system in Office until it breaks. And you might have some icons for office inside of that document management system, until it breaks down.

Paul Gorman:

I’ve actually heard a vendor claim they had an Office integration. When what they really meant was you could store Word, Excel files in their system.

Terri Jones:

Yeah. And, and when you hear that, I mean, and if you’re in there then user and most of your day is spent creating and editing those documents, you say, Oh yeah, that, that seems pretty good.

 

Cause you know, then I will have to scan them as good data. But that, as you say, it’s not an integration is what we’re really trying to do with an integration is leverage the best pieces of both of those systems make them work together so that we can make our jobs easier so we can do less repetitive work. So, we can have less walking to the file work and that kind of stuff.

Paul Gorman:

Terrific. Well, thank you, Terri. This has been very, very interesting, great conversation here.  I really want to thank you for taking the time and sharing your experience with all of us. It’s been as usual, very informative, and I think our users are going to really appreciate this.

Terri Jones:

You and I both know that conversations like this, that we have as colleagues in government, looking at our IT investments were the most valuable things that we ever spent our time on. So, it’s really nice to be able to do it in this environment and hopefully people listen. So, thanks for asking me, it’s a great time.

Paul Gorman:

To our listeners, if you’d like to learn more about ImageSoft, please visit our website imagesoftinc.com and I would strongly recommend you visit our new state agency webpages. It’s at imagesoftinc.com/government/stateagencies. Well, this concludes the podcast for today. I hope everybody has a great day. Thank you all very much for listening.

Steve Glisky:

Thanks again for joining us on this podcast. To learn more about ImageSoft, please visit imagesoftinc.com. That’s ImageSoft I-N-C.com. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to Paperless Productivity, where we capture some of the biggest paper-based pain points facing organizations today. We’ll see you next time.