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DIGITAL THE ONLY OPTION IN A HIGH-STAKES INDUSTRY

How frustrating is it when you need geological data that you know has been gathered in the past but is unavailable to you when you need it? Imagine if previously collected data was lost and the cost of replacing it ranged from $50,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That is a common experience in the mining industry. In order to deliver a cost efficient analysis, it is imperative to locate and convert all existing hard copy documentation and integrate it with your digital data.

Measured Group is a mining consultancy specialising in geological modelling, resource estimation, mine planning, exploration services and geotechnical support. As a consulting group, Measured rely heavily on being able to access historical data. This is the foundation upon which they build modelling and guide future decisions for exploration and mine development. Accuracy is essential.

With global experience in due diligence, feasibility studies, mine planning and ore reserves estimates, the stakes in all of Measured Group’s work is high.

With each new project relying on historically collected paper-based data, Measured Group engage Avantix to digitise the data.

“Avantix undertakes painstaking digitisation of plans, maps, down-hole geophysics and drill logs,” says Avantix CEO, Duncan Lord. “The data is incorporated into geological-specific databases.

If data accessibility and accuracy are integral to your business, contact Avantix today.

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PAPER IS AN IMPEDIMENT

Core samples drilled prior to a decade ago are exclusively available in non-digital format. This might be on thermal paper or plastic film, both of which are vulnerable to deterioration, or on long unwieldy lengths of paper. Each of which contain valuable data needed to be extracted manually, before being useful for future strategy decisions.

“Paper is an impediment,” says Lyon Barrett, Measured Group’s Principal Geologist – Managing Director, whose work is predominantly in the coal industry but includes other commodities such as iron sands, copper and gold.

DARK DATA IS LOST DATA

“Dark Data is when you know you have information there but, as you can’t put your hands on it, it can’t be used,” says Lord.

The challenges of “Dark Data” are not limited to the fields of geology and mining. Most businesses have data that is inaccessibly filed away (carefully or otherwise). Data that isn’t used, or isn’t accessible when needed, may as well not exist.

Digitisation of paper files can bring dark data into the light. Even without the huge costs involved in the mining industry, replication of data collection can be an expensive endeavour for businesses in all fields.

Despite these benefits, if a mining company has not previously experienced finding and then digitising dark data, understanding its importance is not always instinctive. “It can sometimes be hard to quantify the value that it will deliver,” says Barrett.

During the Measured Group consultation process it is necessary to identify if there is existing archival data and then establish its usefulness towards an up to date analysis. Referring to a recent engagement with a global mining company that tracked down archival material in a shipping container, Barrett says: “We were impressed with the way they listened to our questions and supported the digitisation initiative.”

The end result for this project? “The front-end costs associated with finding and digitising the lost data likely cost less than a tenth of any drilling that would otherwise have needed to happen,” says Barrett. “The knowledge of the mineral deposits was improved to the point that they were able to make fully informed decisions about how proceed.”

THE AVANTIX EXPERIENCE

Measured Group have come to rely on Avantix to convert these hard-copy graphs into digital data. These logs are scanned and each curve is converted into a LAS data, allowing easy importation into the modelling software.

“Avantix and Measured Group have worked together on four or five projects already,” says Barrett. “Avantix are very responsive; they turn data around as quickly as can be done. I’d always use them, as they always deliver.”

Avantix are ready to guide you through your digitisation process. Call us today to discuss your needs.

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Building a new home is one of the biggest investments that many will make in a lifetime. When choosing a builder, an individual seeks a company that will go above and beyond.
AusHomes, builders of high-quality, cost-effective homes in South-East Queensland, are using Avantix’s digital scanning services to go above and beyond for their customers and their legal requirements. The bonus? A huge savings on cost.

EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE

“I get phone calls from people who I built a house for 20 years ago asking which roof tile was used during the build, or to get help finding the sewage connection point,” says Brett Shepherd, CEO of AusHomes, which work exclusively in the domestic building market.

Answering these kinds of questions is all part of AusHomes excellent customer service. When operating on paper archives of records, such a request would necessitate a trip to the rented storage facility and retrieval of the correct archive box. Shepherd soon realised there must be a better way.

“We moved to digitisation of our build records,” says Shepherd. “Now, thanks to OCR recognition and astute naming of our digitally scanned files, questions from homeowners can be answered with a few clicks, all within the one phone call.”

Find out today how digitisation could help your customer service excel.

EXCEEDING LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

Houses are built to last far longer than a lifetime. Yet legislation requires that records relating to a build are retained for less than a decade.

Though AusHomes hands over all certificates as well as a detailed folder relating to the build at completion, unsurprisingly, many people lose these over time.

Though complaints about AusHomes’ work are rare, disputes do happen. The easily retrievable digital files are AusHomes first line defence in their risk management of such instances. Without excellent records, any disputes can easily become a case of one word against another.

“For the protection of the company, we digitise all records including photographs of the home just before handover of the keys.”

Another benefit of AusHomes long-term view of record management is that their current practice is likely to be in line with any potential future changes in legislation. While other businesses may have to scramble to comply, AusHomes will likely be able to continue business-as-usual practice.

COSTS DRAMATICALLY REDUCED

If you assume that going digital would be an added cost of business, read on.
The financial benefit of AusHomes’ long-term digital strategy is substantial. Over more than 20 years in the business, during which they have built over 4,000 homes and apartments, the bulk of paper records was substantial and constantly growing.

“It used to cost $40,000 per year for rental of storage space just for records relating to new home builds” says Shepherd. “The cost of the digital scanning services is a fraction of that, around $5,000 per year.” Add in the costs of folders, binders, dividers and archive boxes for files that could be 2 inches thick and, according to Shepherd: “We’re talking about an aspect of our business that now costs less than a 10th of what it did previously.”

Speak to Avantix about how scanning services could reduce your costs.

Shepherd sums up the advantages of building record file digitisation. “It’s a highly efficient way of storing files that goes beyond current legal requirements, protects us in cases of dispute, and allows us to provide excellent customer service.”

Avantix congratulate AusHomes on their decision to build and protect their business by using digital scanning in a farsighted strategy that is contributing to them going above and beyond the expected.

Avantix are ready to guide you through your digitisation process. Call us today to discuss your needs.


TOWARDS A PAPERLESS MEDICAL PRACTICE

Paper-based medical records, and all the resources they require, will soon be relegated to the past for Moreton Eye Group, a multi-site eye health practice.

“Files can be 10 centimetres thick,” says Lesley Henderson, Moreton Eye Group’s Clinical Manager. “And the physical elements – the folder, the clip, the paper and the identification stickers – are surprisingly expensive.”
With an estimated 15,000 medical records files, a number that increases every week, that’s a lot of storage space.

Moreton Eye Group are undertaking a clear-sighted medical records digitisation project as a major step towards their ultimate ambition of operating as a paperless practice. The aim is simple: “We plan to turn our paper charts into electronic charts,” says Henderson.

Would your workplace blossom under the weight of less paper? Read on to hear more.

The positive changes resulting from the digitisation of health records will be seen across the practice. Moreton Eye Group operate across three practices and patients need to be seen at different clinics depending on their needs. Paper-based records need to be transported between clinics, necessitating a dedicated courier service.

“A lovely man named Dan gets into his van each weekday morning and does a round of the clinics,” says Henderson. Though other supplies form part of the transport needs, the majority is patient files. “It’s a 50-60 kilometre round trip each day,” says Henderson. Last-minute urgent appointments see administration staff dropping everything to fax pages from a record to another clinic.

Even within the one practice, a single file might be needed by two or three people simultaneously. “Currently, there is a fair bit of fossicking for files within a clinic,” says Henderson, of the need for doctors, nurses, allied-health and administration staff to all use the one paper-based record for their work.

The scanning of medical files will mean the end of file-fossicking and transport. All staff will be able to instantly access all files whenever needed.

If you’d like instant access to your files, contact Avantix today.

WORKING TOGETHER – DIGITISATION OF LARGE ARCHIVE FILES

Moreton Eye Group found Avantix by doing a websearch for another digital scanning company. “Avantix’s name came up in the search result also, so I rang both” recalls Henderson. “Avantix were so responsive, they came to see me immediately.”

After an initial pilot test, full digitisation commenced. Avantix worked alongside Moreton Eye Group to develop the best approach to scanning over 10,000 patient files. Each week, 50 archive boxes of files are digitised.
Avantix’s work with Moreton Eye Group has included working with the fully electronic medical records system provided by Dox.

“Avantix and Dox have worked together with Moreton Eye Group to deliver a highly efficient solution that caters to all types of information; both structured and unstructured,” says Duncan Lord, Avantix CEO.

“Avantix have really gone above and beyond,” says Henderson, referring to Avantix’s response when a file that is in the process of being digitised is unexpectedly required for an urgent appointment. “Avantix have gone out of their way, which is really appreciated.”

Of the level of customer service received, Henderson is equally full of praise. “Every one of the people who answer the phone knows what the project is,” says Henderson.

TRANSITION TIME

With the digitisation process in full swing, it is transition time for Moreton Eye Group. “There have been some challenges, especially in the early days,” says Henderson of the change from paper-based to electronic medical records (EMR).

The medical records scanning project has resulted in substantial savings in another major transition for the practice. Building costs for a brand new clinic have been substantially reduced as a result of not needing to include dedicated paper-records storage space.

Avantix congratulate Moreton Eye Group on their clear vision in enacting a farsighted digitisation strategy that will see practice efficiencies both within and across each of their clinics.


DIGITISING RECORDS DRASTICALLY CUTS TIME & IMPROVES WORK FLOW FOR SDRC

Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) have enlisted the digital scanning service expertise of Avantix in enacting their long-term digitisation strategy.

Queensland’s southern-most council, SDRC was formed in 2008 through the amalgamation of the Shire of Warwick and the Shire of Stanthorpe and has a population of over 36,000 people.

With two major service centres positioned 60 kilometers apart, as well as staff working on a mobile basis, the need for digitalisation was urgent.

Prior to digitising, a simple and common request relating to a Building Approval would prompt substantial work. “Staff would find the relevant register, locate the hard copy record in whichever location it was held, then scan it,” explains Mrs Susan Brown, Records Management Project Officer. “Now that digitisation of records is complete, a customer in any office can ask about any property and be provided with the information they require quickly.”

After this initial success, attention turned to Town Planning applications, then Engineering files. “They are the council’s next biggest repositories of information,” says Brown.

Engineering plans can be up to A0 size and, with handling, can easily become damaged. “By having documents in a digital format, staff can access and use them as many times as needed without the original suffering from wear and tear or, worse, being at risk of serious damage or being misplaced.”

While SDRC has a large format scanner, which they will use for newly created documents, it was recognised that attempting to complete and digitise the project in-house would not be as efficient or effective as working with an expert provider.

LARGE FORMAT DIGITAL SCANNING SERVICES BRING VALUE TO TRANSITIONING CUSTOMERS

Large format scanning of maps and plans is a speciality of Avantix. With the experience and knowledge gained from over 16 years in handling the digitalisation, data capture and data governance of large scale projects, Avantix has been able to bring real value to customers transitioning from paper to electronic records.

“Our team is able to bridge the gap between labour intensive tasks and higher cost resources that understand CAD, CAM and GIS content,” says Jim Cohen, of Avantix. “By understanding how information is used by front line staff, Avantix is able to help during the discovery phase, to identify which data fields are needed to achieve the best outcome. This arms users with the ability to quickly find drawings based upon what they have to go by at the time; no matter the field or filter, be it project, drawing number, title, revision, vendor or even discipline.”

To safeguard the reliability of drawing data, custom business rules are developed in consultation with the customer to produce a result compliant to the defined standards. The project methodology allows for high volumes of plans in paper, microfilm, aperture card, PDF or CAD file format to be processed in an efficient manner and provides confidence in the quality of images and data.

COUNCIL SAVES & REDUCES COST WITH AVANTIX EFFICIENT SCANNING & DIGITISATION METHODS

SDRC have embraced the benefits of efficiency, thoroughness and customer service that result from digitisation. “Avantix have opened our eyes to the possibilities of what digitisation can offer,” says Brown. “Council is reducing costs, by saving time and staff resources both now and into the future.”

Of working with Avantix, Brown says: “Avantix have been a great partner to work with. They are professional, flexible and accommodating. They ensure our business processes can continue with as little disruption as possible.”

On a day-to-day level, this means that Avantix prioritises information that is needed to meet immediate business or customer needs. “If we need access to a document or file they have, they process it immediately,” says Brown.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE THE BENEFITS DIGITISATION COULD BRING TO YOUR BUSINESS?

The next areas within SDRC to receive digitising attention include Roads, Sewerage and Infrastructure. “This is a significant digitisation program that promises substantial benefits to the region over time,” says Avantix CEO, Duncan Lord.

Avantix would like to congratulate Southern Downs Regional Council on their forethought in creating a strategy for digitalisation, as well as their systematic approach to implementing their plans to increase business efficiency and customer satisfaction.

CONTACT US TO DISCUSS YOUR DIGITALISATION NEEDS TODAY.


Avantix went ‘back to school’ to complete a project that saw the digitisation of 100 years of yearbooks at Scots PGC College.

Scots PGC College is a private, co-educational school with day- and boarding-students across the primary and secondary years. In the lead up to their centenary, it was recognised that, though their carefully compiled yearbooks held a wealth of history, the information was not
sufficiently accessible.

Before Avantix was engaged, school staff would spend hours manually searching the yearbooks to find information requested. Though a testament to their customer service that they undertook this laborious work, the inefficiency was increasingly apparent.

Digitisation was sought

In order to meet requests for information about past students, as well as easily research stories for the planned centenary celebrations, digitisation services were sought. As the magazine-style yearbooks had already been bound into books, this was essentially a book scanning project that required the right level of care to ensure preservation of the original collection (a speciality of Avantix).

The Scots PGC College team briefly considered doing the scanning work themselves but quickly realised how time consuming the task would be. They were also understandably concerned about the wear and tear that could result from the handling of the ageing, one-off yearbooks.

Scanning Services streamlined in to a successful outcome

Jim Cohen from Avantix, says “This is a perfect example of how an expert digital scanning service can transform a scanning project, perceived as difficult by the customer, into a streamlined and successful outcome”.

“For a customer to scan each page, one at a time on a flatbed scanner would take 3-4 minutes per page and put the spines of the books under significant stress and strain”, Cohen says. “Instead, thanks to the specialised equipment and technical knowledge of the Avantix team, the yearbooks were digitised efficiently and safely returned in perfect condition”.

Searchability was a key outcome of the project. The entire collection was made content searchable and catalogued within Adobe Acrobat for ease of use. The benefit to Scots PGC College is that search criteria can be applied across multiple magazines simultaneously (e.g.Name, Year, Sport, etc). The software returns the results of every time that search criteria appears across all publications. “You’ve got absolute clarity”, says Cohen “every time that student is mentioned in the yearbooks, they are instantly found”.

Digital Scanning cuts search time down from hours to seconds

The catalogue search function within Acrobat Reader is a little-known free tool that, though readily available, is not widely used. Scots PGC College benefited from Avantix’s set up of this tool for their yearbooks, as well as providing training for their end users.

Given that many queries come from relatives preparing eulogies for past students, the new efficiency and thoroughness of searching is a real blessing for all.

With searches for historical information now taking seconds rather than hours, plans for Scots PGC College’s centenary celebrations are looking bright.

Let’s discuss the benefits of digitising your records today.


Avantix has completed a project involving the scanning of employee personnel files for thousands of health sector workers.

Working with St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA), Avantix transformed over 150 archive boxes of paper files into electronic records, ready for import into the organisation’s Human Resources Records Management System.

The project represented a crucial step in the expansion of the Shared Services Payroll section of SVHA to a national service, covering the Private, Aged Care and Group Services Divisions of SVHA. ‘Our files grew exponentially,’ says SVHA’s Manager of the Project, Ash Hansen. ‘We needed to consolidate.’

Committed to using a Queensland based service, Avantix was engaged after a successful trial. ‘On the strength of our prior experience and ability to decipher the optimum way to transition paper records to digital, Avantix was awarded the contract to digitise the entire back scanning archive of HR records,’ says Avantix CEO, Duncan Lord.

Data Governance and Records Management

Two of the essential ingredients in the success of the project – Digitisation compliance requirements and database fields, were tested at this stage.

‘It was identified through the trial that slight adjustments were needed to the data criteria to make the information more usable in HP RM8. This ensured the digital records could match the desired enterprise information, erms and data governance requirements,’ says Lord.

Avantix is proud to report that the project exceeded expectations, empowered through a collaborative mind set. ‘The project was on budget and high quality,’ says the SVHA Project Manager, Ash Hansen. ‘There was flexibility on both sides and communication was very transparent and personable.’

Communication is vital to such a project. ‘The project ran with constant communication between Avantix and SVHA with respect to the progress,’ says Lord.

GET IN TOUCH WITH US TO DISCUSS DIGITISING YOUR HR RECORDS TODAY

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Project timelines allowed for a 6-8 week period for SVHA to conduct a thorough quality review post digitisation. There was a contingency for re-scanning of exceptions if needed however, none was required. ‘That showed a very high-quality delivery by the Avantix team,’ says Hansen. ‘There was total commitment to quality.’

With the 9,000 personnel files previously taking up one-third of a very large office, SVHA was able to immediately repurpose the valuable office space for more productive use. Business efficiencies have also been created as now records can be accessed without needing to locate and unpack the physical file.

The project was so successful that other parts of SVHA Queensland have undertaken, or plan to undertake further digitisation projects. Avantix has also worked with Holy Spirit Northside Private Hospital and is in discussion with two other facilities.

If your office space or business processes would benefit from a similar digitisation process, don’t hesitate to contact us for helpful guidance through your paper-to-digital transition.

LET’S DISCUSS ERMS & DIGITISING YOUR RECORDS TODAY

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…said the Analyst to the EDRMS

Well, of course it does.

When considering a document scanning project, there are a plethora of technical settings which need to be examined.  I am constantly asked what impact scan resolution has on the file size and quality. For the purposes of this article I will focus exclusively on these two aspects and address other considerations in subsequent articles.  (The next article reviews what impact compression has on the image quality).

When scanning files, there is often a play-off between getting a document scanned at the highest possible resolution to provide the best visual quality, yet keeping the file size manageable.

File Size

Firstly, let’s start off by looking at how file size impacts usability.  To put it in unscientific terms, the faster an image appears on the screen – the better and in this context, smaller files open faster than larger files.  Conversely, frustration levels soar, if a user has to wait tens of seconds before an image appears (and even longer for larger files).  This problem may be exacerbated if a user is accessing a hosted solution rather than accessing files on their own computer.

Image Quality

On the other side of this play-off is; image quality.  The rule of thumb is: The higher the resolution – the better the quality. (In reality though, there are a number of examples where this is not so, but this too will be addressed in a subsequent article).

The State Archives lists in its recommendations to have archive scanning performed at 600 PPI (Pixels per inch).  Note: this is a recommendation and not a standard.  The guidelines go on to suggest the resolution can be adjusted to ensure the image is “fit for purpose”.  This suggests the resolution can be adjusted to the appropriate level for the particular document type and circumstances)

The best way to illustrate the effect resolution has on Image Size, when document scanning, is via an example.  I have taken a typical single A4 page of content, scanned it at varying resolutions (both Black & White and Colour). The relative sizes of the documents are listed in the table below:

Resolution (PPI)Uncompressed
Black and White Size (KB)
Uncompressed
Colour Size (KB)
20047411 312
3001 06625 380
4001 89245 162
6004 257101 597

This clearly demonstrates that file size almost doubles every time the resolution increases by 100 PPI.  A typical multi-page PDF document consisting of 30 – 40 double sided pages therefore varies quite significantly in size (even when compression is factored in) when comparing a low, to a high resolution scan.  Not only will accessing a large file present frustration, you may well have the IT department up in arms over significant storage space requirements and network traffic bottlenecks.

Output Quality

Then next aspect of the document scanning process to review is the quality of the output and compare differences.  I have taken a screen shot of the same snippet of the document for the resolutions: 200, 300 and 600 PPI respectively (Don’t be concerned about the content.  The snippets of each document are merely to demonstrate the relative quality of result).  I have specifically used a document containing a pattern as it is where the patterns intersect where changing quality is best observed.

Resolution (PPI)B&W ImageColour Image
200200PPI B&W Sample Image200PPI Colour Sample Image
300300PPI B&W Sample Image300PPI Colour Sample Image
600600PPI B&W Sample Image600PPI Colour Sample Image

From the samples, we can see that a high resolution scan creates a crisper clearer image.  This difference is best noted between 200 PPI and the others, but  is less obvious to the naked eye between 300PPI and 600PPI.  On face value, it seems that the slightly higher quality we get with the 600 PPI image, may not necessarily be sufficient to justify creating files which are more than four times the size of the 300 PPI image.  For colour images the impact is amplified.

Fit For Purpose

Now we know the impact resolution has on file size and image quality, the next action item is to define how “Fit for Purpose” applies to your document scanning project. [Refer to page 6 of the Digitisation Disposal Policy –  Queensland State Archives]

The best place to start answering this question is to examine the reason for initiating a document scanning project and the types of records involved.  This has the greatest impact on resolution settings.  If for example, you are bulk scanning financial documents, (Invoices etc.) which only have a retention period of 7 years with no real requirement above being a legible representation of the original, then scanning at 200 – 300 PPI Black & White, may well be sufficient.  This produces a usable image where the content can be read with confidence.  If the same images are intended to be OCR’d for data capture, then you would not go below 300 PPI as going under that would negatively impact the result.

If however, you are imaging a legal document (say), where the expectation is for the image to be as close a representation to the original as possible and the smallest detail is clearly visible, it follows that higher resolution colour may be needed. Even still, you would have to think that 600 PPI would be overkill.  An alternative approach would be to step up to 400 PPI, if there are compliance concerns regarding 300 PPI.

There is a concept called “Point of Diminishing Returns”. There comes a point with resolution where the higher the resolution scans, only makes a marginal difference to quality.  For the example used above, if the document had been scanned to 1200 PPI colour, the increased quality would be minimal but the price paid for file size would be dramatic. Note:  A situation where higher resolutions do make a difference is when scaling up the image, such as a photographic negative that is to be enlarged.  For this article, I am focussing on 1:1 scale document scanning.

Given that each project requires specific considerations around file size and resolution, it is difficult to make hard and fast recommendations to cover all scenarios. This article rather highlights the factors which need to be considered when document scanning.  More often than not, we get asked to perform bulk scanning on documents at 300 PPI (either B&W or Auto-Colour) as this provides a good balance between the size and the quality of output.


Odds are, you have witnessed or know somebody who works in a company that has implemented an overarching software solution which was supposed to be a cure-all for electronic records. But when it came down to specific business processes the end result was less than desirable.  Typically in these enterprise solutions the automation of key, end-user activities is lagging.

Promises Abound

Nearly every vendor – software & hardware – claims to have the answer to your prayers.  After all, business process automation is a hot topic right now and just about every software company and integrator is jumping on the bandwagon.

Despite the hoopla, what I find most confusing; is very few ‘solutions’ actually solve the problem.  Information ends up being manually checked or pushed down the line to become somebody else’s problem.  In other cases, it may be locked away in some sort of exclusive virtual vault, inaccessible to decision makers or the front line when it matters the most. More often than not, additional IT resources are employed to ‘manage’ the software, negating any resource benefits the organisation anticipated once ‘automation’ was achieved.

In the end, the organisation is locked into an expensive, incomplete investment. Front-line employees create workarounds and even worse your customers or suppliers are confused or frustrated by the need to provide the same information multiple times.

So, I ask myself where is the time, effort, and money going once the dust has settled on the initial implementation?

Some companies may act as if the problem does not still persist, while others see the light and decide automation is more than a catchphrase; it is a strategic imperative.  In doing so, they assign leaders such as you and they bring on experts to help lead the way.

It is common for companies to experience pain in attempting to make digital disruption through enterprise software solutions work for them. The good news is that there is a way to lessen the impact by taking several steps to address legacy issues that can cause problems.

To achieve automation for business unit functions that continue to lag, it is best to take a targeted approach that is not limited to the enterprise software constraints.  Instead, huge gains can be made when scoping a solution that compliments and integrates with core systems to take your performance to the next level.

1. Identify the processes that have the best chance to produce some quick wins. This is important for everyone involved to break the negativity that can sometimes surround a changing environment.  Bring hope to end users and senior management alike that real benefits can be enjoyed across all layers.  It can be important to understand that the status quo is very rarely the only possibility.  Your recent changes have improved certain aspects of the business, but in so doing, may have made others more painful. The best of both is achievable.

2. Get input from representatives from each of departments/locations/roles that interact with the documents or data during the process. From the point it first enters the organisation through to it’s final “completed” state in the enterprise solution. Understand all the challenges that that face the people involved in each of these touch points.

3. Form an in-depth understanding of the causes and impacts that incomplete or inaccurate data has on the process. What is the waste or risk implications?  Are people avoiding what should be done?  If so, why are they?

4. Identify how, where and when the data needs to be integrated into core systems. Is there a single source of truth? Are there multiple software systems that need to be synchronised so that during every decision-making step along the way people can trust their data?

5. Where does it all go wrong? What are the causes to breakdowns in the process? Things break! The most perfect process comes unstuck when a supplier/customer/contractor/staff member misses a key piece of information, makes a mistake or neglects what was meant to occur.

6. Weigh up the pros and cons of customising the ERP versus a third party integrated software solution. Consider the risk of budget blowouts and the impact to future upgrades.

7. From this grounding, you are now armed with the information to take positive action. What this plan may encompass will depend on the specific situation.  It may be any combination of people, process or technology.  It may require custom scripting or data modelling to allow for integration in areas that cannot be integrated.

8. Learn to look beyond the clever marketing of your vendors. The trick is being armed with the full knowledge of what the solution needs to address and having a much clearer picture of the outcomes software automation must achieve. In this way, you gain control of the outcome and are not left at the mercy of professional sales people bedazzling you with the exciting story of software robots or other fluff.

As this space can be highly detailed with many variances, I am only just scratching the surface, but rest assured there is a lot more in my head than I’ll ever get down on paper.  I’m always available for a chat or a coffee to help in a more useful way.