Xerox is one of the leading vendors helping companies manage their documents. Managing documents is more than just scanning documents, but it also includes workflow, permissions, and being able to integrate paper documents in the normal “digital process” of communications in a company. This includes employees, partners, customers and any others.

David Smith, vice president, DocuShare Business Unit, Xerox Corporation shares his insight about document (or content) management.
Smaller organizations can’t afford to waste time or money searching for documents. To remain competitive and maximize workplace productivity, SMBs require immediate access to business critical information, which can be achieved through an effective enterprise content management solution (ECM).

The ROI of ECM for SMBs
Increase productivity, reduce storage costs, and improve customer service
According to Basex, a knowledge economy research firm, $650 billion worth of productivity is lost per year as a result of “information overload” — the barrage of papers, emails and other forms of content circulated daily. An ECM solution helps employees combat the ongoing drudge of documents by taking paper out of the process in exchange for digital files that are easy to manage – making work processes faster and more efficient.

In addition, SMBs can cut print-related costs, sometimes by thousands of dollars each month and reduce the need for physical filing cabinets.
Also, with an ECM system, customer documents — such as purchase orders, warranties or invoices — can be quickly accessed online which improves customer response times and customer satisfaction.
Compliance
Government and industry regulations require businesses of all sizes to comply with specific document retention and retrieval policies. Failure to comply with these mandates can result in hefty financial penalties. An ECM solution can help meet compliance measures by establishing document access permissions and a record of activity for auditing.
Green Benefits
Businesses are taking a hard look at their impact on the environment. For many SMBs, “going green” is not only important for sustainability goals but can also result in significant cost savings. An ECM solution manages documents electronically, reducing the amount of paper, ink and toner businesses use. Gas emissions, transportation and postage costs affiliated with the shipment of hard-copy documents can also be greatly reduced when using an ECM solution.
Choosing the Right ECM System


Simplicity

Small businesses can be easily crippled when forced to spend too much down time implementing a solution, or teaching employees how to use new software. It is important to keep things simple and make change easy and intuitive so it is accepted and adopted quickly. While for years ECM solutions were too complex for the average SMB to implement, today some solutions can be installed and running in the same day, with very little IT support required. If the solution has intuitive interfaces, little user training may be needed.
Accessibility
Accessibility of files and information located in ECM repositories is crucial. While it’s important to access files from within the office, also look for an ECM solution with Web-based folders that allows secure, 24/7 access for remote workers, such as those in home offices or other locations across the globe. This speeds efficiency and fosters communication and collaboration without straining the budget. Digital archives can be easily backed up to protect against accidental loss, including natural disasters or other business interruptions.
Leveraging Existing Assets
To be optimally successful and achieve higher cost savings, SMBs need to convert paper documents into digital files. Document scanning devices are necessary to make this happen; the good news is that scanning technology is now very affordable for SMBs. Multi-function printers (MFPs) can also be leveraged for scanning purposes. Most small offices already have an MFP, so documents can be scanned from the device directly into the ECM system without making a significant investment in new hardware.
Catering to a Growing Business
It is important to ensure that current and future investments will be able to grow as business needs evolve. Look closely at the amount of storage available and the ways the system can be customized for automation of other business processes. Also, choose a solution that works with common hardware and software platforms and accepts documents and images in a variety of formats.

Custom Solutions to Solve Business Needs
ECM solutions can be customized to meet any small or emerging business’ needs. For example, by integrating additional software from other vendors, or even a proprietary document workflow solution, business processes can be automated well beyond document storage, retrieval and sharing.
ECM in Action
By turning hard copy forms into easy-to-manage online digital files, insurance administrator OwnerGUARD, Inc., has been able to process claims faster with Xerox Corporation’s DocuShare® enterprise content management solution.
Previously, OwnerGUARD, a San Diego-based small business, was inundated with high volumes of paper documents, leading its 40 employees to spend up to three hours per day searching for the information they needed to process claims. Using MFPs, OwnerGUARD scans claims forms into a digital format, sending them seamlessly into the customized DocuShare system.

By digitally automating claims management and also imaging large amounts of paper documents to access them easily online, they were able to boost turnaround time by 40 percent while saving about two hours per claims processor each day and more than $5,000 per month on print-related expenses.

As with OwnerGUARD, ECM can help other SMBs get work done more efficiently and unearth new cost savings and sources of revenue.
For more information, and to see a 5 minute video case study on OwnerGUARD along with other examples of how companies benefit from ECM, visit www.docushare.com

Peachtree 2010: Focus On Customers and Contacts
Every year, the software accounting vendors upgrade their software, putting in the latest and greatest features and options. What goes inside is determined by customer requests and what new features management comes up with.
Peachtree by Sage 2010 is out and includes a nice set of new features. One set of features I’ll highlight is the emphasis on customers.
The new customer management center lets you manage and access more customer data from within Peachtree.

For example, according to the press release, you can:
•    Save time by viewing the details you need all-in-one-place to better manage and service your customers.
•    Create a customizable dashboard view of your customer’s information such as their converted and unconverted quotes, invoices, receipts, time tickets, aged balances, items sold, and much more. Drill down to the detail and quickly take action.
•    Save time by looking up customers quickly based on their id, phone number or any of their contact information or recently looked up customers, and filter further based on date ranges. Utilize the Recent Selections link to quickly pull up customers who you have already viewed.
•    Easily export customer information to Excel® or PDF or launch an e-mail from the Customer Management Center.

There’s a lot more in this new edition, but that’s a taste.
Like past editions, my advice is the same.
If you are a Peachtree customer and use the product on a daily basis and rely on it a lot – the upgrade is probably worth it.
If you don’t use Peachtree that much, take a look and consider if it’s worth it for you.

For those of you using QuickBooks or Microsoft Accounting, you should probably stick with what you’re using unless you find a compelling reason to use Peachtree and/or you just hate the product you are with now.

If you are one of the many businesses still relying on paper and pencil and/or Excel to manage your finances, you’re wasting time, probably losing money and definitely losing productivity every day you are not using an accounting program to help manage your cash flow and overall finances.