Living in Wisconsin we are used to snow storms, but recently we experienced a rare, February ice storm last week. The ice-covered trees provided an impressive display as the sun glistened off of the strained branches. Since we have had an exceptionally warm winter, there was no snow covering the ground. So, not to be out performed by the trees, the grass put on its own display of majestic art as each blade, individually covered in ice, provided a unique and seemingly endless array of sculpture. Even in the grandeur of all of this, however, was the strain put on each of these plants. Trees were bending and sometimes breaking from the weight. Grass would crunch when stepped on, seemingly destroying what was underneath one foot. The wind, blowing the trees gave a haunting sound of stress and fatigue. Much like how ice can damage the landscape, hidden issues within your document management system can also cause damage to the effectiveness of your workflow.
Your document management system may be a work of art, and seemingly be running without a worry. But have you recently looked under the covers to make sure everything is okay? Is there something going that you cannot see that can undermine your entire system?
We have a client who has a large and complex solution with us. They have taken primary ownership of the systems and only rely on us as a backup, or to help when they get stuck with something. A couple of months ago, we received a distressing phone call. Our client had reached the license limit for the number of images they could save to their system. No longer having the ability to store documents, their workflow process was effectively down. To make matters worse, this was their peak season and they had hundreds of employees needing to use the system. Ultimately, we were able to upgrade the license and get them processing again in a couple of hours. However, the experience provided a reminder that they need to be more proactive in maintaining their system.
The solution is called a System Health Check, or an SHC, which is a comprehensive evaluation of your system and processes. It is designed to provide feedback regarding system vulnerabilities and potential faults. Intended to be proactive, the SHC creates a report that allows users to better manage their system. This increases their overall experience by eliminating downtime and improving performance.
An SHC can either be very focused, or a high-level look at the entire environment affecting a system. For example, a standard system with only basic workflows may only require an inspection of the system performance. But for the more complex system, the SHC may be significantly expanded. As an example, not only will the review look at inefficiencies within the core system, it will also look at the server and network infrastructure. It can also dissect and evaluate input sources such as paper scanning, e-forms and file imports. For clients supporting their own system, it may look into resource allocation and core competencies of those systems. It can also uncover communication issues between users and support that can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration.
At the conclusion of the SHC a detailed report provides feedback to the organization. This information may be used for a variety of things including maintenance, upgrades, redesign or system add-ons. The real value of this approach is that all of these things are done in a controlled, proactive manner. Upgrades, redesigns and other items can be budgeted for and conducted during off peak times.
Just as the ice can create damage to your trees and plants, the invisible issues within your document management system can undermine its performance, reliability and effectiveness. Creating a proactive plan for understanding these potential issues allows you to address maintenance and enhancements on your schedule. Over the course of time this ultimately saves time, money and frustration.
Jack Arnston is a Principal at The Priton Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.