Driving Better Business Performance with Document Management Processes: A Recent Survey Suggests How Organizations Can Align Their Document Management Processes with Their Business Goals

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Business documents constitute the lifeblood of an organization. Though often overlooked as red tape, they are vital strategic, financial, and information assets essential to the successful operation of a business. Many organizations, however, confess to their fundamental ineffectiveness in document management, Consider it a warning sign for their corporate health.

It is not as though companies do not recognize the importance of managing their information. That is one reason organizations invest so many billions in IT. It is different, somehow, when it comes to managing documents. They are too often seen as fixed costs of doing business rather than a fertile ground for improving business performance. This is why elevating document process performance is critical, both as an internal practice and an outsourcing strategy, to help organizations reduce costs, increase productivity, lower risk, and build profits.

Six advanced document management processes appear inextricably linked to specific high-value business benefits. These processes are:

1. Document imaging

2. Enterprise-wide print/copy

3. Mail and shipping

4. Records management

5. Automated/print/mail workflow

6. Legal discovery

This premise is buttressed by a recent 2008 Oce Business Services survey of 170 executives responsible for document management processes. These included chief administrative officers, mid- and upper-level operations managers, and chief information officers. A cross-section of industries was represented, including business services, financial services, insurance, technology, and government.

Among respondents, 46 percent work at organizations with annual revenue under $100 million; 22 percent have revenue between $100 million and $1 billion; and 32 percent have revenue of more than $1 billion. Survey results reflect responses from participants at organizations with annual revenue of more than $100 million. Respondents were guaranteed confidentiality.

The survey reveals:

* Organizations need to use an integrated approach to document processes that views documents in terms of their lifecycle. Although 90 percent of senior business executives admit that managing documents better throughout their lifecycle--creation through disposal--would improve business performance, only 12 percent of senior executives rate their organizations as highly effective at it.

* Organizations need a way to quantifiably measure document performance in the context of an organization's highest business goals. A slim majority of survey participants (51 percent) indicate their organizations are actually measuring document process performance. At the same time, respondents specified that measurement would be expected to enhance efficiency, reduce cost, and yield a higher return on investment in document process activities.

Document Processes Drive Business Benefits

The top-10 findings of the survey forge additional links between sound document process management and defined business benefits.

1. When it comes to document process management, a majority of executives (64 percent) said improving operational efficiency was their company's top concern, closely followed by reducing costs. Other chief concerns include improving customer service and enhancing regulatory compliance.

2. Executives agreed that effective document management advances two pressing business concerns: improving operational efficiency (97 percent) and customer service (94 percent). A significant number of executives also agreed that improvements in these two areas help grow revenue, increase competitive advantage, drive faster time to market, and reduce costs.

3. Executives agreed that document imaging (paper-to-digital conversion) has a significant impact on the greatest range of top business goals when compared with the other five advanced document management processes,

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