Adapting to the New Normal With Electronic Document Management

The sudden shift to working from home has forced organizations to execute their business continuity plans and many are finding in practice that a very important process was overlooked – electronic document management. The document business processes that were used in the office are proving to not be so adaptable to a remote workforce; employees are left to operate with difficulty to find or incomplete information or even having to make special trips to the office to locate the information that they need. This has caused organizations across many industries to reevaluate how to best manage their business-critical documents and the need for a document management solution that fits their business.

Q: How did ICM Document Solutions get started?

A: ICM was founded by my dad, Phil Harrington, during his attempt at retirement, in 1988. Prior to ICM, my dad had earned a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, another in Electrical Engineering, and an MBA. He then worked for GTE for 25 years before retiring at the ripe age of 48. Being the type to always keep his mind active, he served as a business technology consultant during his few years of “retirement” before starting ICM, which was originally called Image Conversions and Management. In its initial years, ICM was a scanning firm converting business records, technical manuals, engineering drawings, and other business-critical information into a digital environment.

My dad grew ICM from a start-up scanning firm to a full blown, one-stop shop document management solutions provider as he adapted the company’s solutions to what the market needed, and where the future of technology was headed. He was an active part of the day-to-day operations up until the day he passed away in 2015. ICM is now a second-generation family-owned and operated company AND a certified women-owned small business that is owned by my mom, Carol Harrington, who was married to my dad for 54 years, and myself, as the CEO and President. ICM was such an integral part of our lives ever since my dad first started the business. I remember working the front desk as a receptionist while going to college. It was such an exciting feeling to help my dad start the business and I loved watching the drive and passion that he operated with every day; it’s an honor for me to now lead this amazing company that he created! His grandchildren (my kids), Ryan Wells and Paige Purslow, have now also dedicated themselves to continuing and evolving the ICM vision. The passion that ICM’s customers experience when working with ICM stems from his families’ desire to continue his legacy! His work lives on through us.

Q: What makes ICM unique in the tech world, how are you different?

A: ICM has quite a few things that make us unique! First, because of our size and structure, we can be quick and nimble for customers! This is enhanced by the fact that, instead of reselling someone else’s software package, the ViewCenter platform envisioned, created, developed, and supported in-house. ICM’s Product team consistently improves the platform per an evolving strategic roadmap based on customer requests, industry trends, and in anticipation of technological advances. Plus, we are a one-stop-shop for document management; meaning, we can do the conversion of your existing records, implement our document management suite to manage them, and utilize custom development for any needed enhancements or integrations. Also, we know that every customer’s situation is unique so we approach their project with a curious and consultative thought process to make sure we are truly identifying the problems that need to be addressed – holistically – and not just handing them a “cookie cutter” solution. This makes the experience much more personalized and hands-on for our customers, from pre-sales, through implementation, and ongoing support for the life of every project. The diversity in our company (60% minority, 51% women) is definitely an asset that contributes to the creativity that is used to solve our customer’s challenges and provide them with a solution that is right-sized and right-priced. It is our goal to build long-term, collaborative relationships with our customers, and all of this helps us do that!

Q: How has ICM adapted to remote work?

A: Fortunately for us, we build the types of solutions that enable remote access and streamline business processes, and it is given us an opportunity to “eat our own dog food” even more. From a document management standpoint, we were able to adapt very quickly using our own tools. Meanwhile, we did identify a gap in our communication avenues because we were so used to being able to walk to the person’s office or meet a customer at their facility. This pandemic forced us to find ways to effectively communicate in the digital world and we jumped headfirst into adopting Microsoft Teams for both internal and external use. And while we were able to fix the challenges of adjusting to a remote workforce, we recognized that our employees have non-work-related challenges from this pandemic, especially our employees with kids at home. As a mom myself with a son still in school, I can relate to the challenges they are facing. So, in addition to allowing remote working for anyone who can, we have also implemented a flexible work schedule to accommodate those needs and to help reduce the associated stress.

Q: How can ICM help my business, particularly with the business problems of today?

A: One of the biggest problem’s companies are facing with the transition to a remote workforce is accessibility to business-critical information and having a centralized, structured, and secured way to store, find, and share it all. Especially if they were still operating in partially or completely paper-based processes, which MANY companies and organizations still are! These challenges are not necessarily new, because the problem existed before remote working, but the pandemic has really brought this business problem to the forefront.

ICM’s products and services allow companies to securely store, manage, retrieve, and share their critical documents while providing streamlined, fully digital business processes and complete disaster recovery.

Q: What industries do you serve? Would your services be a fit for my budget?

A: The short answer is, all of them. Every industry has documentation that is critical to their business operations. We have worked with companies in a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, aerospace & defense, healthcare, education, and local, state, federal, and tribal governments…to name a few. The same is true for the various departments within each industry. We work with a wide variety of departments such as HR, Operations, Quality, and Finance.

Because our solutions are uniquely designed, we have some customers that are a 1-person department solution, all the way up to enterprise solutions and international operations. They are all using our same core of document management solutions, but right sized to fit their needs. The truth is everyone needs document management. We intentionally built ViewCenter with that in mind – to be configurable to a company’s unique needs, for both their short- and long-term digital transformation needs.

Q: What are the biggest challenges/roadblocks, to moving towards a document management system?

A: The first roadblock is recognizing there is a need. For example, we talk to some companies who have a good handle on their manual or paper-based process. They do not recognize the inherent risks, inefficiencies, or limitations that paper-based processes possess until a serious issue presents itself. Similarly, we talk with organizations who say they’ve gone digital in their document management and by “digital” they mean saving documents in folders with a cascading waterfall of subfolders on their desktop, a shared drive, cloud storage tools, etc. which can become way more convoluted than a paper filing cabinet! We help them see the security concerns, sharing restrictions, searching limitations, and other issues associated with these repositories and show them how much more robust a true document management system can be!

The next challenge is understanding what you have and what you need. The best thing an organization can do is map out the documents and processes of each department and team. Within each business process, identify when, where, how, and by whom documents are being used. Once you have mapped out the process and identified the issues, it is easier to define what you need. Since most companies do not have this level of detail done, ICM’s Solutions Consultants perform these types of deep dives as part of the discovery process (at no cost) to make sure we provide the best recommendations available.

Once you know you have a need, have identified the problems, and defined what you need, the next hurdle is to get buy-in from all the key stakeholders. Even though the only thing that is constant is change, people are still very resistant to it. Therefore, ICM’s Customer Success Team works with all stakeholders to ease the transition, get people comfortable with the new process, and solidify user adoption and buy-in.

Q: How long does the process take?

A: As mentioned, the first steps are to see the need, identify the problems, and define what is needed. The time it takes to implement the process really depends on what is involved. We have implemented a document management system for some customers in less than 2 weeks whereas some of the more complex, enterprise-wide solutions are typically done in phases over months.

Q: How do I know that ViewCenter will be a fit for how my business is structured?

A: One of the best things about ViewCenter is it was intentionally designed to be configurable to the customer’s needs. ViewCenter is a blank slate out of the box and our Customer Success Team works with each customer individually to map out the best structure. This way ViewCenter can easily fit into any existing business process up to completely revamping the process, which helps with user adoption and buy-in. With our in-house custom development, we can customize the core product in whatever way our customers need. That could be something simple like a data migration or more complex like a multi-system integration or consolidating a unique business process.

Q: What about all my records on paper or other physical media?

A: Remember, ICM got its start as a scanning firm, and 32 years of experience later, document imaging and conversion is still a huge part of our business. We have a state-of-the-art production facility in Phoenix, AZ, and depending on volume and requirements, we also conduct our scanning operations remotely, maintain an on-site footprint at various client facilities.

Keep in mind that digitizing the existing records is only part of the solution. There needs to be a plan in place in how to manage them in the digital world and what to do with newly created records going forward. This is another reason why our customers love that ICM is a one-stop-shop; we can address all parts of the solution, specific to your needs and at whatever pace is appropriate.

By: Michelle Harrington, CEO & President

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