SMBs, You Need an ECM Strategy
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Whenever I speak with an SMB interested in Laserfiche, I query them if they have a plan or strategy, and if they don't, ask if they will develop a plan? Heck, I'll even take a goal, and from there, we can back into a plan. Typically, SMBs buy Laserfiche to relieve a pain point, such as going paperless or automating the invoicing process. The problem with this approach is unless it's considered a strategic resource, Laserfiche is often limited at the departmental level.
While much appreciated by those who use the product daily when SMBs use Laserfiche in a non-strategic fashion, Laserfiche is often labeled as a one-off, singular solution (think digital filing cabinet) rather than an enterprise-class software, baked into the strategy and goals of the organization. Much like forward-thinking SMBs have a plan for their ERP or CRM, they need one for Laserfiche also.
What is a Laserfiche strategy?
A Laserfiche strategy envisions the benefits of managing the flow of information across the entire business. Think of strategy as being the why in terms of business benefits. It provides a framework for information governance, security, and compliance. Procedures should be developed to manage the information lifecycle from classification to disposition. Also under consideration is the repository's physical location, whether on-premise or cloud, to satisfy content sovereignty requirements.
Developing a Laserfiche strategy can be an intensive process. AIIM and ARMA offer some good beginner guidance for an SMB or any new client to develop a plan around an application you don't have. Laserfiche offers excellent content, and we at CPS offer content also. Also, your Laserfiche Partner is a valuable resource for strategic planning. SMBs can dodge mistakes and experience a smoother process by following some best practices:
Get executive sponsorship and participation- A Laserfiche strategy requires organizational leadership and sponsorship. Organizations should begin planning with the top-down directions that define business objectives. The executive directive should include resource allocations, such as person-hours and budget to launch a minimally viable Laserfiche system. Plus, don't forget to have the original problem(s) you attempt to solve with the software. Ideally, the directive is a living document, so you can update it as the system evolves. The original mandates will eventually progress to SOPs and maturity measurements.
Include stakeholders. A cross-functional team -- composed of both line-of-business users, compliance, legal, and IT -- should chart the roadmap to address the objectives of the executive team, launch the initial Laserfiche system with the Partner and use agile design principles to improve upon it continuously. The team should work to define critical success factors that measure when the business objectives are met. The organization should address the needs of various stakeholders and get their buy-in to the roadmap. In addition, identifying two change management archetypes, a champion, and a connector from among the stakeholders, will benefit the project in the long term. Briefly, a champion is an individual who steps up and owns the Laserfiche implementation, and they tend to be excitable and have a knack for spreading their enthusiasm. They don't need to come from any particular department, but typically, they are records, compliance, or IT types. The connector is the person who knows and works well with almost everyone in the organization. They can spread the word about the upcoming implementation.
Spend time on taxonomy. The team involved in a Laserfiche strategy must recognize how and when metadata and document categories matter by developing an information architecture that meets business needs. For instance, users must be able to associate document categories with tasks as they will be handled by Laserfiche versus how they were controlled prior. SMBs should invest the time and effort into developing file plans, controlled terminology, and taxonomies of related terms and identifying security and records management criteria. CPS can help you with metadata management and best practices.