Fred Dunayer: Welcome to the SCORE’s Small Business Success Podcast, Been There, Done That. To get free mentoring services as well as to see the wide variety of resources available for small businesses, visit our website at www.score.org or call 1-800-634-0245. Now, here’s your host, Dennis Zink.
Dennis Zink: Episode number 34, Document Management. Fred Dunayer joins me today in our studio as co-host, score mentor and our audio engineer. Good morning, Fred.
Fred Dunayer: Good morning, Dennis.
Dennis Zink: Our guest today is Steve Feldstein with Brother International. Steve, welcome to Been There, Done That.
Steve Feldstein: Good morning, Dennis and Fred. Good morning to our listeners.
Dennis Zink: Steve Feldstein has been with Brother International Corporation for about five years. He’s the marketing director for scanners and business products. Prior to that, he was with Sharp, Minolta, Ricoh and Okidata, where he was involved with product marketing, product development and product planning. Steve, what is document management and how does it work?
Steve Feldstein: Well, document management is really the use of a computer system and software in combination together to manage and track electronic documents, electronic images of paper that are captured through the use of a scanner, a document scanner. With the help of a document management system, it’s possible to have the right information in the right place at the right time. That’s really the basis for decision making, triggering different business processes and the ability to get to information faster so that decisions can be made much faster and more efficiently.
Dennis Zink: Why is it important and what are the benefits to small business?
Steve Feldstein: Document management is important for a variety of reasons. I would say first and foremost, it’s a much easier way and more efficient way to organize information rather than sort of the old way of hard copy documents being stored in file cabinets. Now, within seconds, with a document management system, you can easily search for particular keywords within a document or if you are in the legal profession, you could even search a particular case number or a particular claim number if you were in, let’s say the insurance or financial processing type of industry.
You can then not only find those documents and organize them really much more efficiently and easily and at a lot less cost, but then you could edit and retrieve and manage the documents right from your desktop application and be able to store many more documents, millions of documents even if you wanted to, even into the Cloud, versus the cost of trying to move hard copy documents either off site to a third party company – that may be very costly.
Dennis Zink: How has the industry changed in the last five years?
Steve Feldstein: The industry has changed in the fact that I think that people nowadays are much more attuned and much more used to having electronic information, whether it’s on their tablet, on their phone or at their desk, the applications are much more easy to use. You don’t have to be a document management engineer or any kind of programmer or anything like that. I think, with the ease of use factor increasing probably tenfold over the last couple of years, I think it just makes it a lot easier for many, many more people to get into the electronic document management world much more easily.
Dennis Zink: What kind of factors should a small business owner look at when they decide on what kind of document management solution they need?
Steve Feldstein: First and foremost, I would say, there’s really two different types of document management. There’s a desktop document management and sort of a professional document management. The first type, the desktop document management is I would say more for a small office or a small business that doesn’t necessarily need to have lots and lots of different types of workflows and business processes and approval processes in place. Desktop document management, it’s basically different types of software that you could load onto your desktop.
For example, Brother International, with all of our scanners and all of our all-in- one devices as well, we bundle desktop document management software right in the box so that once you put your printer or your all-in-one or your scanner on the network or even if you hook it up via USB with the software that we include, you can easily begin scanning and actually organizing files right on your desktop and being able to edit those documents, change the documents, stuff they call OCR which is optical character recognition, where you can actually take let’s say a newspaper article. With OCR capability, all the text within that newspaper article can be brought straight into a Word file and then you have the ability to edit that information or use it in some way, shape or form within another business document or if you were doing research, for example. It just makes it a lot easier in the fact that you can manipulate information and data versus having just static information in a hard copy format.
Dennis Zink: Years ago, we talked about the paperless society or the paperless office, I wonder to what extent has that actually happened because I know myself, I like to print out documents even though I may have them on the computer, there’s just something about printing a file and I know where I put it in my file cabinet. I still do both. I don’t necessarily print everything but how has that come to fruition in terms of the paperless office?
Steve Feldstein: It’s funny you mentioned that. I think in the industry, we’ve been talking about the paperless office for the last 15 to 20 years. I think overall, yes, we’ve made some steps forward toward that. However, I still believe because of the amount of information we now have access to, the paperless office is never going to happen. We actually at Brother did a recent independent study to see businesses that had 500 employees or less in size how much dependence did they have with their printers and scanners today, we were asking that exact same question.
The interesting thing that we found out and it’s really two main points here. Number one, 73% of the owners and decision makers at companies with 500 employees or less, use their printer or scanner devices at least four times a day according this company that we used, Wakefield Research. Certainly, printing is not going away. The second point that I want to make is that 51% of the respondents prefer to read documents on a printed piece of paper.
I think about that myself. When I need to actually look at a document that’s probably four or five pages or more, I print it out to be honest with you because I really don’t want to look at a document on a screen for a long period of time. I mean, I’m looking at a screen most of my day anyway. I think, our eyes get tired. Regardless of the size of the screen and the resolution that you may have, I think people after a while just need to walk away from that computer screen and give their eyes a rest.
I think by printing things out, you do that whether you realize it or not, whether that’s subconsciously or consciously. But I know, in our office in particular, I see lots of documents still being printed out and being read and viewed rather than everything being done at a computer screen or even on their tablet.
Fred Dunayer: Do your employees get beat for printing when they should be reading something off of a document management system?
Steve Feldstein: No. Especially because we’re a printing company.
Fred Dunayer: That’s right.
Steve Feldstein: Yeah, we actually obviously want people to print. But no, I think, look, I think there are certain types of jobs no question, kind of lend themselves more to being in a front of a computer screen and using it a lot more. For example, at Brother, we have graphic designers and graphic artists to help us create different marketing collateral type of materials. Certainly programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, you have to be in front of a computer screen and you have to be using the tools with that software to really generate the output and what the final result is going to be.
But I would say by and large, if you just look at the general office worker, they’re primarily using the Microsoft Office Suite, whether it’s Word or PowerPoint. I know I use a lot of PowerPoint being in the marketing department. It’s very easy to just look at the screen, make changes on the screen. But at the end of the day, I’m still printing things out to see how they look, are they the right colors. Certainly in a business environment, for example, giving proposals to a new or existing customer, you want everything to look right, not just on a screen but also when you print it out.
You want to make sure the colors are right, if you have a logo that you’re using on that document. You want to make sure it’s the right color logo for your business. That really kind of sets you apart as well. It makes the document and yourself look very professional when you present those types of documents.
Fred Dunayer: Steve, if you’re in the process of setting up a new office, and you want to integrate at least desktop document management, are there specific hardware requirements that you should think about? In other words, is your typical 17-inch monitor going to do the job or do you need to look for something a bit more sophisticated and larger?
Steve Feldstein: It really depends on the applications and the workflow that you’re thinking about automating or digitizing in some way, shape or form. But I’ll make a general statement at the fact that for the most part in a small to mid-sized office, if you’re just looking for example to digitize accounts payable as an example invoices, you don’t necessarily have to have the state of the art most expensive computer monitor and software. There are lots of programs out there and even the software that we bundle with our scanners, for example, at Brother, is certainly probably sufficient for most small to mid-sized businesses just to get them started on the desktop side.
Obviously, if you need more sophisticated or complicated document management software that maybe Cloud based or you need to be able to do much more sophisticated approval types of processes, yes, then you would need obviously the next step up in document management software. But I’d say by and large, to start off, pretty much any scanner or MFC manufacturer out there already bundle pretty good desktop document management software to get you started.
Fred Dunayer: If you’re actually a paper intensive organization that’s going to be processing large numbers of documents, you probably ought to get hold of a consultant or a marketing representative from a company such as yours to go over those requirements and determine what hardware and software would be needed to meet those requirements.
Steve Feldstein: Yeah, absolutely, 100%. Once you realize that, you know what, I am doing a lot more scanning and I want to really get a little bit more sophisticated with my approval process or my document management, you should, no question, get a hold of an expert to help you kind of map out exactly what the workflow process is or processes are that you want to digitize because there are so many different variables out there. Even on the hardware side. For example, on the scanning side, you want to make sure that you have the right device that’s fast enough, that has the features set that will make your life a lot easier, more productive, more efficient, because there are multitude of scanners out there from little mobile scanners all the way up to I’ll say heavy duty department level high-end scanners that are out there.
They range in price as well. You may not need a 2 ($2,000) or $3,000 scanner for what you’re doing in your office. Maybe $200 or $300 desktop scanner is more than enough. Also, if you’re out of the office a lot and you have a need to digitize documents or scan documents, certainly you want to have a mobile scanner or some lightweight type of scanner that’s battery operated that’s WiFi enabled so that you’re mobile and you could be anywhere. Good example of that would be is if you’re in the insurance industry, maybe you’re a claims adjuster, you’re on site at an accident scene, you’re taking pictures of the accident, you need to scan those pictures back into corporate headquarters or to your office. All of those types of documents now can be scanned using a mobile scanner.
Fred Dunayer: I think you’re making an interesting point there which is that documents are not just necessarily pieces of paper, they can also be photos, audio files, all sorts of other things. These mechanisms you’re talking about can store all of those, correct?
Steve Feldstein: Yes. 100%. Again, it also depends on obviously the size of those files and how much storage space you’re going to need. For example, video files are very, very large in size. You need to have lots of storage capacity on the back-end to make sure that you have enough room for those files. Certainly Cloud based systems make that a lot easier these days. Years ago, the Cloud we were shying away from because they were worried about security and someone was going to hack in or they just didn’t understand the technology. But nowadays, there are so many Cloud based systems that are highly secured and very reliable. It just makes it easy to access those documents anywhere you may be. You could be traveling halfway around the world and have access to those documents which is fantastic.
Dennis Zink: Paper is cheap these days. I remember the old days with, I guess, what you called the pin-feed platen and you had a rip off the edges of the paper with little dots and little holes in it. It just was kind of a pain to do. Everything has gotten easier these days. But now, my wife for example work for a home builder. The big thing is DocuSign. All the clients are signing, some of the old ones don’t want to do it, but generally they use DocuSign. I imagine they probably still have to print out those documents anyway and file them in their library just so people can access them that way as well as by computer. Can you comment on DocuSign as a software relating to the document storage and retrieval issue?
Steve Feldstein: I’m not that familiar with DocuSign per se. But I know that for example even in a court of law these days, there are certain types of documents that could be electronic in nature that are admissible with electronic signatures on them. In general, population and even our legal system is realizing the value of having electronic signatures and that the days of having to have a hard copy document or even a faxed document with a signature on it are certainly being diminished over time as new standards keep coming into compliance and different regulations that we may have, both federal and state, it allows the industry to really start to take the next step in having more electronic documents being viewed or entered into the systems and decreasing the need for hard copy actual signatures.
Dennis Zink: Is there an inverse relationship to faxing versus scanning? I mean, years ago, I would fax everything. Now, I scan everything. I almost never fax something unless it’s international.
Steve Feldstein: Yeah, I think we see it certainly in the industry that faxing is certainly declining over the last 10 years or so. That’s because scanning has become a lot more mainstream. It’s a lot easier to do than it was 10 years ago. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be able to scan documents in. Lots of different devices now have scanning capabilities including your cellphone. Applications are already built in in most of them that you want to take a picture of a document or something and have it scanned in, it’s easy enough to do and certainly the different software, whether it’s Microsoft or Apple based, also, really, really makes it quite easy to scan documents into your tablet or your PC.
From there, very easily can be moved to a variety of destinations depending on what you want to do. However, I will say this for fax, there are certain industries where fax will never go away. For example, believe it or not, the legal industry still has a high propensity for faxed documents. Again, a lot of that is not all documents are admissible with an eSignature. There are certain contracts, types of contracts that have to be signed in hard copy format. The only way to move those documents or have a record of those documents is to actually fax them.
Dennis Zink: Today, people are on their phones nonstop, their smartphones. Realistically, the cell phone real estate is kind of still minimal. I know my vision is not as good as it used to be. I get documents and I really cannot look at them on my phone. Is there any technology that’s being developed that will aid people in being able to view those documents easier other than having a bigger screen?
Steve Feldstein: That’s a good question. I certainly would hope the answer to that question is yes. Over time, I think that there will be some sort of technology that will allow you to view those documents somewhere if you don’t have a large screen itself. Certainly, there’s a lot of technology being centered on being able to convert text to voice. I think a lot of that technology certainly could be used in a way to help get those different types of documents into some other format that may be more viewable or easily read or understood.
Certainly, I know I use almost every day in my car because I have a long commute the whole feature within the car which allows an incoming text message to be voiced to me while I’m driving. I think that’s a huge safety plus. I think you look at all the distractions that we have these days and certainly on the road is probably the most critical time where you have to be focused. Incoming text messages or emails, the higher car manufacturer’s capability to convert those types of incoming messages to voice so that you’re not distracted, that your eyes are not moving away from your vision on the road is fantastic.
I applaud the industry and I applaud a lot of what’s being done on the safety side of things because I do see so many younger folks being distracted all the time because they’re just in front of various screens all the time. I think when they’re driving, they really need to kind of put those things aside and make sure that they’re focused on the road. I think there’s lots of room for development and certainly hope that the industry is going to move in that direction sooner rather than later.
Dennis Zink: Let’s talk about security for a moment as far as information is concerned. What are some of the main threats that you see for business information?
Steve Feldstein: Certainly security I think is top of mind for everybody. You hear about a story in the news of a new data security breach at some large company almost every other day unfortunately. But certainly, the risk of sensitive information being mishandled or misplaced or stolen certainly has grown I think over the last couple of years. I’d say the increasing threat of breaches, intrusions, cyber-crime as well as regulatory standards and the penalties that are involved, if you don’t comply with those regulatory standards, really is driving businesses to look at security under a microscope now and they should.
Not only the actual data security that I’m talking about but even unauthorized user access. For example, if you have a network at your company. You’ve got various devices on that network so maybe there’s scanners or printers or all-in- one devices, you want to make sure that only authorized people are using those devices and that you don’t have someone coming into your office and arbitrarily walking in and getting a hold of confidential information or even scanning confidential information out-bound from your business that’s certainly going to breach some kind of security standard or make your company look bad in some way, shape or form.
It’s not only the data itself but it’s also the actual network that I think companies are really, really taking a very hard look at nowadays to make sure that only the proper people are using the proper devices and they’re using those devices in a productive, efficient manner that also can be traced, so that if and when something does go wrong, they have an audit trail. I think that’s key.
Dennis Zink: I realized that it differs by industry. But how does somebody know if they’re in compliance with the law as it relates to their document storage retrieval, archiving and whatever else they do with their information?
Steve Feldstein: A very good starting point would be something called the Association for Information and Image Management, otherwise known as AIIM. If you go to their website which is www.aiim.org, they have a whole wealth of information about document management, document imaging, various verticals, different areas to explore, whether it’s regulations, for example on health care, certainly HIPPA is a very big mandate electronic records, patient records and confidential information, that’s certainly a big regulatory compliance on health care side, in the financial sector, there’s Sarbanes-Oxley which basically mandates about personal financial information that has to be tracked and confidential in nature.
If you’re, for example, sending or receiving information about your 401K plan through a broker or through someone in the financial advisory capacity, that all has to be within the compliance of Sarbanes-Oxley and even as a company. For example, if you have maybe a 401K plan for your company or maybe a SEP/IRA type of plan, again, when you are transmitting information to your employees or vice versa, through your HR department or even from a business owner perspective, all of that has to be compliant within the Sarbanes-Oxley arena.
Dennis Zink: You mentioned HIPPA and the medical industry. I know years ago, there was a big effort and I imagine still going on to have all patient records in digital format. What’s the state of that goal?
Steve Feldstein: HIPPA in particular, most doctors’ offices these days, they’re in compliance. I just went to a doctor’s office the other day and I found it really interesting in the fact that all of the documentation and even the conversations between the doctor’s office and myself are now all secured on their own website. I received just notifications through my email saying a new message has now been posted to this secure website. Please go to the website. Log in. I have to create my own password. Everything is secured. Any documentation from that visit at the doctor’s office is also posted in that secure website. Really, really interesting to see that transformation come about even in a small doctor’s office.
Fred Dunayer: Steve, is there anything that we either haven’t talked about or anything you’d like to emphasize to our listeners as we wrap this up?
Steve Feldstein: I think in general document management, whether you’re a large company or a small office, has a lot of benefits to your company, to your employees. The key is that you get the right hardware as well as the right software in place so that you can be more productive. You can be more efficient. You can access information quickly. You can make better decisions, faster decisions. I think that’s what business is all about these days. We’re in a global type of environment, a global market where you can’t just live in a vacuum and think that competitors are not going to try to take away or go after your customer base on a global scale because it seems like almost everybody is online or through the web. It’s very easy to touch people in various ways that years ago we would never even have fathomed.
The only thing I was going to say is the security aspects. I think that the security components and features that the hardware as well as the software can offer. Certainly at Brother, we have a variety of products, whether that’s our scanners or all-in-one devices that have all types of built in device security as well as network security to make sure that the devices are in fact being used by only authorized people that you, the business owner, decide are in fact legitimate users of those devices.
I think that being able to use different software, certainly, you look at PDF, portable document format, I’d say that the de-facto sort of electronic format these days. There are lots of different types of PDF documents that are available. One is called a secure PDF. That secure PDF is password protected so that if it is in fact really highly confidential information that perhaps needs to be used in a court of law, that format is actually admissible.
Dennis Zink: Steve, thanks for being our guest today on Been There, Done That, and enlightening our listeners on document management.
Steve Feldstein: My pleasure. Hopefully our listeners have learned a little bit and welcome additional comments or questions that they may have over time.
Dennis Zink: Thank you, Steve.
Steve Feldstein: Thank you.
Fred Dunayer: You’ve been listening to the SCORE Small Business Success Podcast, Been There, Done That. The opinions of the hosts and guests are theirs and do not necessarily reflect those of SCORE. If you would like to hear more podcasts, get a free mentor, get a transcript of this podcast or would like more information about the services we provide, you can call SCORE at 800-634-0245 or visit our website at www.score.org. Again, that’s 800-634-0245 or visit the website at www.score.org.