Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best Practices for Gateway EDI

Posted by Mark Brousseau

For Gateway EDI, EHNAC accreditation shows the way to best practices. EHNAC Executive Director Lee Barrett explains:

As one of the fastest-growing providers of healthcare electronic data interchange, Gateway EDI processes transactions for more than 10,000 medical offices representing 50,000 providers in all 50 states. Gateway EDI also connects to more than 3,000 payers and offers services ranging from standard claims processing and status reports to more advanced capabilities such as technology for flagging rejected claims.

Founded in 1983, Gateway EDI has continuously pursued innovations, business practices and opportunities to improve its services. In 2006, just such an opportunity arose through a relationship with the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC).

“Our initial interest in EHNAC was prompted by a state of Maryland requirement,” recalls Dave Cheli, chief information officer, at Gateway EDI. “But the accreditation process proved to be a real eye-opener for us.”

An industry veteran, Cheli was already familiar with EHNAC’s work, which dates to the early 1990s. Though the Gateway EDI team knew generally what to expect, they were pleasantly surprised with the advantages of achieving full accreditation in March 2006.

“It provided a great framework for bringing together a wide range of security, privacy and operational aspects,” says Cheli. “Seeing it all from EHNAC’s perspective in a comprehensive overview was an interesting experience. It shined some light on some aspects of our business where there had been missing pieces.”

Taking a closer look
Transaction auditing serves as a case in point. Gateway EDI manages more than 15 million transactions a month, and the EHNAC criteria require that electronic health networks demonstrate the ability to produce detailed audit trails for all of them.

“Most clearinghouses handle millions of transactions on a monthly basis,” says Cheli. “You might think you can account for every transaction, but EHNAC forces you to show that you can. When you start looking at reports and doing the research, you learn more about your business. For us, the process highlighted some areas where we were able to shore up our capability to reconcile every single transaction.”

In addition to these operational enhancements, EHNAC accreditation has impacted the customer service side. “As a result of our original accreditation in 2006, we added some processes that have benefitted our clients, such as closer monitoring of customer service status,” says Cheli.

In response to marketplace trends, Gateway EDI has grown its business on the strength of value-added services and strong support. And in the years since it began working with EHNAC, Gateway EDI has further built on that advantage. In May 2008, Gateway EDI was included in the “Ambulatory EDI Claims Clearinghouse” report published by KLAS, the Orem, Utah-based research firm ( specializing in monitoring and reporting the performance of healthcare vendors.

Gateway EDI’s results included 100 percent positive commentary regarding the vendor relationship, and perfect scores, 100 percent, for Would Recommend to a Friend or Peer, and Services Delivered within Budget/Cost. With most Gateway EDI customers “feeling well taken care of”, Gateway EDI earned an 89 overall rating score, a functional strength rating of 4.5 out of 5.0., and first-place for practice management integration. It also captured the top rating in several categories, including “Quality of Services Staff” and “Real Problem Resolution.”

Standards as best practices
As a self-governing non-profit, EHNAC maintains a comprehensive set of publicly-available standards criteria covering privacy and confidentiality; technical performance; business practices; physical, human and administrative resources; and security.

The EHNAC standards development process is fully open and transparent. Based on years of research, it’s the result of continuous input from electronic health networks, payers, hospitals, physicians, consumer groups, financial services firms, security organizations and vendors.

“Because it’s built on years of studying the industry and it’s so broad based, the EHNAC criteria have essentially become a collection of best practices,” says Cheli.

A credible process
EHNAC’s accreditation process, which is based on these established standards, begins with a candidate organization’s submission of an in-depth self-assessment. Later, an EHNAC site reviewer visits to evaluate the accreditation candidate more closely. This hands-on approach helps companies identify issues as well as opportunities.

“In 2006 and again, with our re-accreditation in 2008, the EHNAC assessor spent time understanding our processes. They’ve asked a lot of insightful questions and shared some wonderful tips with us,” says Cheli. “For example, this year we got some very valuable advice on improving our disaster recovery and business continuity measures.”

An operational catalyst
Cheli believes that EHNAC has served as a sort of catalyst, helping Gateway EDI expand privacy and security measures, make decisions about business practices and set meaningful operational objectives. “We now have a lot of people setting departmental goals and monitoring performance metrics that are built around EHNAC criteria,” he says. “Getting a set percentage of claims out in a certain time frame, for example, is now crystallized for us as a monthly goal. And we’re more meticulous about monitoring against those goals.”

“Would we have gotten there without EHNAC driving a lot of this?” Cheli asks. “Probably. But not as quickly. EHNAC is the only organization that provides a comprehensive accreditation service for clearinghouses. HIPAA-related issues are just a part of the overall criteria. They look at it from a total operational perspective.”

Truth in advertising
One also can see the results of Gateway EDI’s efforts with a quick visit to its website. Gateway EDI customers have an average overall error rate of only seven percent. Ninety-eight percent of customer service calls are answered directly by a real person. Gateway EDI solves 92 percent of customer questions on the first call.

And prospects can rest assured that these claims about claims are real. In addition to performance standards and policies and procedures, EHNAC accreditation encompasses “truth-in-advertising” criteria. So statements like these are verifiable.

What began as a requirement has become a resource for Gateway EDI — and relationship, too. “The people behind EHNAC are experienced, smart and very passionate about what they do,” says Cheli. “They’ve been extremely supportive of us, and our relationship has been wonderful.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ibml Assists Habitat for Humanity

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Last weekend, about 100 ibml employees assisted in the construction of a home for a deserving family in Birmingham, AL. ibml worked in concert with Habitat for Humanity, ABC 33/40 and other Central Alabama businesses.

Led by a Habitat Construction Supervisor, ibml employees assisted with construction tasks on a home for Tiffani Whitehead and her three children: Darion (age 10), DeVaunte (7) and Tahlia (4). Both boys attend Powderly Elementary School, where they have competed in the Math Derby several times. Tahlia, who is very "girly," enjoys lip gloss and fingernail polish. Tiffani has been employed as a customer service coordinator for BBVA Compass Bank for the past five years. The family attends New Pilgrim Baptist Church in Titusville, AL.

A global company headquartered in Birmingham, ibml has approximately 125 employees in the city.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NACHA Rule Strengthens Need for Payments Hub

Posted by Mark Brousseau

NACHA's proposed rule change for mobile payments provides a wake-up call for banks and billers unconvinced of the need for an Enterprise Payments Hub. Leilani Doyle ( of US Dataworks ( explains:

A proposed NACHA rule change for mobile payments is another nudge for banks and billers that have been reluctant to deal with the stark realities of the increasingly diverse payments environment.

The proposed rule change would expand the definition of Internet-Initiated Entries (WEB) to include ACH debits authorized and/or initiated via mobile/wireless networks, and require that those payments utilize the WEB Standard Entry Class (SEC) code. The rule change would cover payments made with a mobile device such as a smart phone, cell phone, and/or PDA, where the payment is transmitted via a wireless network. NACHA just concluded a request for comments on the change.

Expanding the WEB SEC code to include mobile payments is a reasonable idea.

NACHA says the rule change would clarify the entry classification for mobile payments over the ACH Network, and provide a framework for risk management and security, including authentication and authorization. While current NACHA rules don't specifically address mobile payments, many companies are either originating these payments over the ACH Network, or planning to in the future.

The NACHA proposal comes at a time when mobile payments are poised to grow. Insight Research Corporation estimates that 2.2 billion consumers will generate $124 billion in mobile financial transactions by 2014. More conservatively, Mercator Advisory Group estimates that payments from remote devices will grow from an estimated $389 million in 2009 to $8.9 billion in 2014.

A Better Solution
Regardless of how fast you believe mobile payments will grow, the NACHA rule change for mobile payments shines a bright light on a subject that is vexing many banks and billers: how to deal with yet another distinct delivery channel for payments with its own unique characteristics. Banks and billers must balance the need to mitigate the risks of each payment channel with the desire to remain flexible and avoid creating new silos, which, in turn, stifle agility and customer responsiveness.

To be sure, as mobile payments volumes rise, the channel will bring its own set of systems and process challenges, and be subject to fraud and attack -- regardless of the NACHA rule change.

That's true of all of the emerging payment channels.

The solution lies in utilizing an Enterprise Payments Hub to provide a single platform for processing all paper-based and electronic payments (including mobile), regardless of clearing channels.

An Enterprise Payments Hub provides a consolidated, end-to-end transaction processing platform that offers integration with legacy payments and receivables systems and processes. Management of all payment channels, including lockbox, mobile/wireless, Web bill payments, and over-the-counter work, is controlled through a single enterprise platform. An Enterprise Payments Hub is capable of managing the entire payments lifecycle including payments processing, check processing, retail processing, payments decisioning, and returns management. Incoming payments are cleared using Check 21 and ARC conversion for conventional remittance or lockbox processing, while other forms of bill payment and retail work is processed using the appropriate NACHA SEC code ( i.e. ARC, POP, RCK, TEL, WEB, PPD, CCD and BOC). Credit card and debit card payments are also processed through the platform for a fully integrated accounts receivable (AR) process.

An Enterprise Payments Hub is especially effective when the multiple payments channels of an organization are centralized, as standalone systems and processes can be significantly reduced. For example, an Enterprise Payments Hub can enhance workflow and data management, and facilitate common processes and administration across all payment channels. This functionality eliminates manual processes, accelerates exceptions handling, increases corporate agility, and improves float.

These capabilities also provide a platform for straight-through-processing (STP).

The Bottom Line
While the United States lags behind many industrialized countries in the adoption of mobile payments, there is no question that banks and billers need to be prepared for the channel's inevitable growth. The sooner organizations can develop a framework for mobile payments usage and risk, the better positioned they will be when the channel explodes. NACHA should be applauded for providing some level of regulatory guidance on payments that originate from mobile devices.

But the proposed NACHA rule change is only one piece of the emerging puzzle.

To optimize their payments processing and risk management, banks and billers must bring all of their payments channels -- including mobile/wireless -- together in an Enterprise Payments Hub.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Case for a Technology Refresh

Posted by Mark Brousseau

In spite of the economy, this might be a good time for organizations to refresh their technology infrastructure. Doug Myers (, Creditron's vice president of sales and business development, explains:

If your payments processing department's performance isn't up to snuff, it may be because you spend too much time and money maintaining and managing your existing systems, and not enough on investments in new technologies. Spending money now to refresh your payments infrastructure could pay big dividends long-term and better position your organization for the economic recovery.

The fact is, many organizations rely on inefficient and outdated equipment to process their payments. Many of these systems were installed in the run-up to Y2K. As evidence, 72 percent of attendees to a recent Creditron Webinar stated that their legacy remittance processing system was between eight and ten years old. This means they were installed long before Check 21, remote deposit capture, the growth of Accounts Receivable Check Conversion, or the maturation of imaging at mail extraction.

This type of outdated technology can compromise cost efficiency and business productivity.

To this point, TAWPI's 2009 Payments Benchmarking Study found that more billers reported that their unit costs have increased over the past year than those that reported declines. This rise in costs is in spite of the intense focus at most organizations to drive down costs. What's more, billers who responded to the survey reported that they have seen some decline in quality over the past year. The study reported that the chief culprit for this decline in quality is older equipment that needs updating.

Moreover, 36 percent of attendees to the Creditron Webinar said the biggest challenge with their legacy remittance system was the steep maintenance fees and high number of manual processes it requires. Another 18 percent of Webinar attendees cited poor software and hardware reliability, and lack of Check 21 capabilities as the biggest issues with their existing remittance processing system.

But this old technology may be costing operations managers even more than they realize. Dig deeper and they will likely find other ways that their antiquated technology is hampering their bottom line:

• Large footprint for outdated scanners
• Expensive scanner supplies and consumables
• Lack of redundancy for scanners
• Antiquated or inflexible software workflows
• Limited new hardware and software features
• No ability to consolidate paper and electronic payment streams

So what's an organization to do? One option is to outsource its payments processing. But this requires a leap of faith that a third-party provider can match the levels of quality and timeliness currently achieved by an organization's in-house operation. This isn't likely. And most companies realize it: despite a brutal economy, there has been a decrease this year in the number of RFPs issued by billers looking to outsource payments processing. Another option is to do nothing different. While avoiding capital investment, this option does nothing to address an operation's rising unit costs or the potential of unsupported equipment. A third option is to try upgrading the operation's existing infrastructure. This option is likely to disappoint organizations across the board: it requires capital investment, but only provides limited benefits in terms of functionality, efficiency and cost control.

Clearly, the best option is a refresh of the organization's payments processing infrastructure. In addition to significant savings on hardware maintenance and supplies, a compelling business case for a technology refresh can built on anticipated benefits from automated mail extraction, image inquiry, hot file capabilities, courtesy and legal amount recognition, Check 21 as a Service, and cashiering.

With a technology refresh, companies can slash processing costs, improve access to working capital, provide a foundation for future business needs, and eliminate the risk of equipment obsolescence.

Here's a real-world example: a utility that processes an average of 3,700 payments a day would save more than $900,000 over five years by refreshing its legacy payments infrastructure with an end-to-end solution that includes cashiering, automated mail extraction, an image-based remittance solution, and Check 21. What's more, the utility would significantly improve its access to working capital.

With an eye-popping business case like this, it's little wonder that 6 percent of attendees to the recent Creditron Webinar stated that they plan to replace their legacy remittance processing system in the next six months, while another 6 percent of attendees said they plan to do so in the next 12 months.

So, don't let low payments processing performance be a problem of your own making.

By choosing to invest in new technology in the short-term, you can keep your operations costs low, address current and future business needs, and be in a better position to outperform your peers.

A Compelling ROI for Document Management

By Mark Brousseau

Organizations hungry for productivity gains in light of the economic downturn will likely find a compelling return on investment from document capture solutions, Andrew Pery, chief marketing officer at Kofax said this morning during a keynote presentation at TAWPI’s Capture Conference.

“If document capture is looked at as part of your mission-critical business process, and you integrate that into your business applications, then the savings are quite significant and compelling,” Pery said.

One common measure of a return on investment calculation is the average total savings over three years, divided by the cost, Pery told attendees. What factors drive this return on investment?

… Breadth – “How many people will the application affect?”
… Repeatability – “How many times a day will people use it?”
… Cost – “Is this a costly task?”
… Collaboration – “Will employees need to collaborate?”
… Knowledge – “Can I reuse the information I create?”

“One of the most important metrics is the payback -- the time period needed before net savings equal initial cost,” Pery said. “Organizations tend to pay a lot of attention to this because the shorter the payback the higher the probability the project will be adopted,” Pery explained to attendees.

Key to this payback is productivity gains from reductions in cost (direct savings), expected reductions in cost, increases in worker productivity, and increases in manager productivity.

“When someone creates an ROI analysis, particularly in these tough economic times, the focus primarily is on direct savings,” Pery said. And this is a reason for the growth of document capture. “Document capture, in terms of annual growth potential, is expected to outperform virtually every other segment of the software market because users recognize the potential direct cost savings.”

For instance, the economic value of automating invoice processing is increased processing efficiencies, improved ability to audit, improved visibility across AP, and streamlined research.

The bottom line, Pery said is to choose products and services that consider document-driven process automation as a strategic investment.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Be Open to Change

By Mark Brousseau

What’s the biggest mistake that organizations make when deploying document management solutions? Not being open to change, Dana Showers of Capture Sage said during a panel discussion today at TAWPI’s Capture Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

“When organizations are evaluating document management solutions, they need to take a hard look at each of their requirements and determine whether it is a real business requirement or whether it is really an inefficient workaround that has become a ‘requirement,’” Showers told attendees.

“When evaluating new document management solutions, organizations should be completely open to change and work hard to determine which existing processes add value. If a process doesn’t add value, then it should be thrown out, otherwise it will cost you down the road,” Showers said.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Attendees Share Operations Tips

By Mark Brousseau

During an interactive networking luncheon at TAWPI’s Capture Conference in Ft. Lauderdale today, attendees were challenged to provide the best strategies they’ve implemented in the past year for improving their operations. Below is a sampling of the best strategies:

1. Eliminate manual reporting and move to automated real time reporting. This will help you meet your service level agreements.
2. Implement 2D barcode capabilities. The State of Georgia Department of Revenue was able to save $1 million in three months by implementing 2D barcoding.
3. Incorporate auto-classification into the capture process as early as possible.
4. Start designing your business processes with the end game in mind. Understand where you want to go, and white board it out.
5. Don't price the solution until you are done with due diligence and requirements are defined.
6. Don't just automate a manual process – upon closer inspection, you might decide to re-engineer or completely eliminate the process.
7. Design your black and white forms with a color gray that drops out on certain scanners.
8. Evaluate your processes every six months to make sure they still make sense – or haven’t morphed!
9. Use an abacus (don’t ask!).
10. Approach automation projects in phases, starting with getting buy-in.
11. Look for ways to automate exceptions processing with image technology.
12. Don't be intimated by offshore key entry.
13. Implement OCR for T&E forms and P-card forms. This saves time, money and labor.
14. Before rushing out to buy a solution, see if you can’t get significant benefits by re-engineering your processes.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Creating the Efficient Paperless Office

By Mark Brousseau

There’s a school of thought that the data capture and document imaging industry should have made more progress by now. “We’re talking about the same issues today that we were years ago,” Chris Preston of EMC Corporation said during a keynote presentation this morning at TAWPI’s Capture Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. But the economic downturn may accelerate the pace of change.

“The technology has substantially improved, and we’re moving to the right direction, but we’re not getting the paper out of the organization entirely,” Preston told conference attendees. “The challenge is to more efficiently handle the paper once it’s in an organization.”

Preston noted that the economic downturn is driving the push to more efficiently handle paper. “What’s driving organizations are three basic things, and they will continue to drive organizations even in the recovery: reduce operating costs, better serve customers, and reduce risk,” Preston said.

“Organizations want to know how to deliver value faster, better, cheaper than before,” Preston said.

Preston pointed to a study conducted by EMC and The Economist that cited agility as the top priority for 88 percent of executives worldwide. “Agility is not just about speed, it’s about adaptability and the ability to adapt quickly,” Preston said, noting that agile companies grow revenues 30 percent faster according to the study. To improve agility, Preston said organizations must:

… Improve process efficiency (change management, outsourcing, automation and satisfaction)
… Improve knowledge management and information sharing processes
… Encourage and extend collaboration across the business and beyond

“Doing all of these things will provide a foundation for becoming a more agile company,” he said.

To this end, organizations are moving from an application approach to information-centric infrastructure, with a common, virtual pool of information that applications have access to, or contribute to. “This is what organizations are trying to aspire to,” Preston explained.

Standing in the way of this migration is information. “If you look at information, there is lots of it (1.8 zetabytes), it is mostly unstructured (95 percent), mostly unmanaged (85 percent), managed by organizations (85 percent), and becoming more regulated,” Preston said. “The consequences of not managing information are severe – everything from regulatory fines, impact on customer service.”

And the paper challenges facing organizations aren’t likely to change anytime soon. Preston noted that more than 20 millions of office paper is produced and consumed each year in the United States and Europe. “Paper is, and will continue to be, a critical component of business transactions. In order to drive efficiency you’ll have to find better ways to manage paper,” Preston told attendees.

“The opportunity is to look at document imaging and data capture to transform paper into business-ready information so the organization can do something with it,” Preston stated, adding that the greatest opportunity to reduce costs and enhance services lies in transactional content management.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Slower Distributed Capture Growth?

By Mark Brousseau

Panelists at TAWPI’s Capture Conference admitted that they were surprised by the slowdown in growth of distributed capture solutions reported by TAWPI’s 2009 Document Management Study.

“When we looked at the report, we thought it was a very interesting statistic,” said Andrew Pery, chief marketing officer at Kofax, said during the panel discussion this morning in Ft. Lauderdale. “Based on our own experiences in the market, both distributed capture and remote capture are proliferating and there is increased adoption for both because of the benefits they provide.”

“The study shows that global and Fortune 500 companies are the primary users of distributed capture solutions with smaller firms using it in a more limited basis,” said Dana Showers of Capture Sage.

KeyMark CEO Jim Wanner told attendees that the recession has undoubtedly played a role in distributed capture “not taking off.” But Wanner said there is another issue within organizations that may be inhibiting growth: “There is a huge disconnect between the individuals responsible for scanning and the individuals making decisions on MFP devices. These individuals frequently don’t communicate effectively on how to solve the challenge of capture within the organization.’

The results of the TAWPI aside, the panelists saw growth ahead for distributed and remote capture.

“Distributed capture will continue to grow,” predicted Ken Kriz, manager of strategic alliances for AnyDoc Software. “But it can’t grow at its previous pace because it cannot overtake centralized scanning. Some organizations will utilize distributed capture, and some of them will not.”

“The use of Citrix has really taken off, which will help distributed processing,” Showers added.

Pery noted that despite the popularity of ATM banking, 63 percent of respondents to a recent study said they prefer to interact with a bank branch employee – illustrating that the ability to deploy remote capture solutions and multi-function devices are becoming more strategic. “We’re also seeing expanded use of capture at the fringes of the enterprise, such as with field agents,” he said.

Going forward, the panelists saw mobile phones as another remote input stream for images.

“High-production users won’t use cell phones to scan documents in the back office, but they might be one of the inputs into a high-production system,” Kriz told conference attendees.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Payback Time: Evaluating Document Capture ROI

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Calculating return-on-investment (ROI) is all about the numbers, and the simpler the better. But be careful to focus on the right numbers or you risk missing process improvements that really count. KeyMark Inc.'s Brian Becker explains:

For any document capture system where you put automation in play – whether basic indexing, or complex document classification – simple recognition rates would seem to be the obvious measure. The reality, though, is that simple optical character recognition (OCR) and classification rates tell only part of the story, and often only a secondary part at that.

Ready. Aim…
Take a minute to list the goals for your document capture system – the factors specific to your business needs that will define success or failure of the project at the most basic level.

Now look over that list. Whether you listed two goals or a dozen, OCR recognition rate is likely not among them. That is because the real factors that drive your bottom-line ROI will be things such as:

... Efficiency improvements / Reduced manual labor
... Higher throughput (quicker availability of documents)
... Quality improvements (fewer errors = fewer corrections and improved customer experience)

While recognition rate does play a part, it tends to have little meaning on its own. It can be useful (specifically during system tuning), but it will always be secondary when measuring system results

It’s all about... You
The key to optimal analysis of your system is to identify the most important goals for your business. What business problem are you attempting to solve? What are the measurable parameters for your goals that indicate success?

For each area to be measured, what is your target? This might be a percentage reduction in number of errors, or maybe a specific number of documents-per-hour per operator. Use whatever makes sense in your environment for determining the benefit of the new system.

Is your goal to allow each of your operators to continue to classify and index your current document volume, but in half the time? Measure system throughput (per FTE-hour) and see how it stacks up to your old numbers.

Is your goal to reduce indexing errors by X percent? Analyze a sampling of work performed the old way, and compare the error rate to that from a similar sampling of work performed using the new system.

When complete, your list of goals and targets should be a solid basis (along with associated cost factors) for calculating the ROI, both planned and actual.

By the way, once you get your new system in place there is a good chance you will identify additional benefits, and will want to measure and compare these to the old process. While it may be beneficial to do so, be careful to keep your focus on areas of measurement that tie directly to your justification for the project. Since your goal is to measure actual vs. planned ROI, if you step outside of the original boundaries be sure to treat that separately.

What matters most
In the end, the success of the system will hinge on a solid design and implementation, with recognition rates playing an important, but limited part. A well-designed system can provide a great ROI even with mediocre recognition rates, whereas even the best recognition rates cannot overcome poor design or execution. It’s the total package that counts. (And, of course, you do want the best recognition rates on top of the best system!)

When you evaluate the success of your system, numbers don’t lie. Just be sure you’re looking at the full picture so you can be confident that you are measuring the parameters that tell the real story. Get it right and you will know exactly when you have achieved success.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TAWPI Releases Findings on Payment Processing Benchmark Report

TAWPI has just released the findings of our 2009-2010 Payments Processing Benchmark Study. The study is the most up to date, comprehensive study ever produced on current and future trends in payment processing including mail, lockbox and remittance operations. The report examines the productivity and cost of processing payments through an analysis of various functions such as:

  • Measurement of payment processing performance across dozens of benchmarking dimensions, including volume adjusted cost per item for both clean and exception items.

  • Integration levels of front-end payments systems with back-end ERP platforms (e.g., SAP, PeopleSoft, etc.)

  • Data on the adoption of ARC and Check 21 image deposits and statistics on the growth of biller direct recurring payments using ACH, debit and credit cards

  • Feasibility and cost justifications for in-house versus outsourcing of various payment functions

For more information and to obtain the results click here and be directed to the TAWPI website.

Monday, November 30, 2009

e-Prescribing Accreditation

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Below is an article from Lee Barrett, executive director of the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) on the importance of accreditation for e-prescribing stakeholders:

EHNAC Advocates Third-Party Accreditation for e-Prescribing Stakeholders

By Lee Barrett

As pharmacy continues to play an ever-important role in patient care, pharmacists progressively maintain access to sensitive patient information. Added to this, there is increased incidence of electronic prescribing, at the encouragement of federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services. e-Prescribing has even been referred to as the “on-ramp” to the healthcare information highway. All of this means that pharmacy continues to play an integral role in readying the healthcare industry for complete reliance on electronic health records, and in the imperative protection of patient health information. In response to this repositioning of the industry, state Boards of Pharmacy seek to hold organizations that have access to this information to high standards. As such, pharmacists are required to respond to the patient’s right to privacy.

The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) represents a wide range of stakeholders in its peer-driven effort to advance healthcare through electronic transaction standards, and is positioned to assist pharmacy in ensuring they are protecting patient privacy rights. The accreditation services offered by EHNAC facilitate improved business processes and expanded market opportunities for electronic health networks, payer networks, financial services firms and e-prescribing and other solution providers.

As the healthcare industry evolves toward increased electronic exchange of clinical data, it becomes more critical that trading partners and their customers such as payers, providers, pharmacies and other stakeholders can rest assured that the networks and applications in use are functioning appropriately, but also that they are well protected. Toward this end, EHNAC’s e-Prescribing Accreditation Program (ePAP) helps demonstrate the operational integrity of e-prescribing transaction networks, electronic health record systems, e-prescribing solution providers, and any other electronic health network or company that manages e-prescribing transactions on behalf of its customers.

Through ePAP, EHNAC assessors review an organization’s electronic and fax-based transactions across five main categories of criteria, including privacy and confidentiality; technical performance; business practices; resources; and security. ePAP accreditation from EHNAC also gives an e-prescriber’s customers confidence that all necessary standards for transaction timeliness, security and privacy with new prescriptions and renewals are met or exceeded.

With the health of the pharmacy industry and patients at stake, there is urgent need to secure patient privacy as e-prescribing increasingly becomes standard practice among healthcare providers.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Enterprise Payments Hubs Attracting Interest

By Mark Brousseau

Challenged by new regulations, the overhead and inefficiencies of siloed payments systems, and fast-rising unit costs for paper-based transactions, more billers and banks are taking a hard look at so-called Enterprise Payments Hubs -- solutions that enable the end-to-end processing of any paper-based or electronic payments or clearing channel.

Twenty-percent of participants on a recent US Dataworks ( Webinar stated that they plan to implement an Enterprise Payments solution in the next six to 12 months, while 25 percent of the Webinar participants stated that they plan to implement an Enterprise Payments solution in 12 to 24 months. Ten percent of the Webinar participants said they already have implemented an Enterprise Payments solution. The survey respondents included billers and financial institutions.

Backing up their plans, 25 percent of participants on the US Dataworks Webinar said they already have researched Enterprise Payments solutions.

So why the rising interest in Enterprise Payments solutions? Webinar participants cited high unit costs for transaction processing (30 percent) and the inability of their legacy systems to adapt to new payment types (15 percent) as their two biggest challenges with traditional standalone payment systems.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Many Faces of Capture

Posted by Mark Brousseau

An interesting article by Jim Thumma of Optical Image Technology on the Many Faces of Capture:

The Many Faces of Capture
By Jim Thumma, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Optical Image Technology

Business efficiency starts with the capture of quality data. Whether your information is stored on paper or mixed media, you need accurate, readable information to make sound decisions. After all, data drives every business transaction you make. If images are skewed, characters are illegible, or data don’t match collection criteria and require follow-up, organizational productivity is hindered. To be useful, data must be readable and reliable.

Successful capture requires hardware and software that enable:

- easy, fast capture of documents, images, and content;
- accurate recognition of data within each document/image: de-skewing, de-speckling, or otherwise adjusting for clarity;
- validation, using custom rules for data verification (i.e., a date field allowing only numeric information, or a name field permitting only alphanumeric characters);
- meticulous classification, so people with varying needs can locate needed information later.

What kind of capture is right for you?

Barcode recognition software – If you process high volumes of routine documents such as insurance claims, or college or loan applications, bar code recognition may be appropriate for you. It’s fast and precise, requiring no manual verification because of its inherent accuracy. Using recognition technologies, the software accurately identifies batches and document types and supplies specific document-related information.

Signature capture devices – If your staff needs to obtain point-of-transaction signatures from clients, electronic signature pads make collection much easier. Electronic signature software that’s part of browser-based EDM and workflow eliminates frustrating delays and keeps related business processes moving.

Scanning software – Scanning is the most common method of capture, and for many, it’s the most convenient. Whether you need desktop scanning for lighter demands or high-volume scanners that feed, sort, and classify documents in batches, consider your document requirements carefully:

OCR – Optical character recognition captures type on documents electronically, eliminating tedious, costly, error-prone manual entry.
ICR – Intelligent character recognition captures hand-written letters and characters, using smart technology to verify accuracy or request manual verification.
OMR – Optical mark recognition is highly specialized software, used to capture check marks in boxes, filled-in bubbles, and other shape-filled information on structured forms.

Multi-functional peripherals (MFPs) with scanning capabilities – If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, MFPs are a great place to start, although you may need EDM for verification and correction. By integrating with EDM software, you can also expand indexing capabilities beyond the limited fields most MFPs allow, making documents and their contents easier to retrieve.

Web-based electronic forms – Adding e-forms as part of a document management system has several advantages:

- Eliminates faulty data by using drop-down menus to guide data entry;
- Increases data accuracy by giving clients ownership of self-submitted information;
- Automates indexing, making information useful as it’s collected.

If you routinely collect customer information, want to eliminate waste and provide customers 24/7 convenience, e-forms are an excellent choice.

Fax capture – If you currently distribute faxes manually or frequently have to follow up with senders about incomplete or poor-quality transmissions, fax capture is worth considering. Data transmitted via fax can be captured, indexed, stored, and routed electronically to appropriate staff Inboxes using automated workflow, saving time.

Email management –Up to 90% of business communications take place via email, so efficient capture and archival of important emails as records is vital. If you use email management (part of an integrated EDM suite) to sort, index, and store emails logically, you’ll be prepared if you are subpoenaed for information or your emails are subject to investigation and audits.

Digital capture alone doesn’t result in efficiency, but quality capture is the first step to achieving it. Understand your needs, evaluate vendors carefully, and choose wisely!

2010 IT Spending: A Mixed Bag

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Responding to a still sluggish economy, IT executives in North America and Europe are taking a variety of measures to get more value for the money spent on IT services, according to the latest Enterprise IT Services Survey by Forrester Research, Inc. According to the survey results, IT contractors and consultants will see the deepest decreases in spending, while systems integration and outsourcing services will have the most increases.

Unlike during the last recession from 2001 to 2002, when outsourcing and offshoring experienced growth from firms seeking to reduce internal IT costs, the picture for IT services is much more mixed in terms of spending plans. When asked about changes they expect to see in their organization's total spending on IT services, 30 percent of executives surveyed said they plan to increase spending on systems integration and project work, 26 percent plan increases in applications outsourcing, and 25 percent expect to increase spending on infrastructure outsourcing. However, 41 percent of executives expect to reduce spending on contractors, and 34 percent foresee lower spending on IT consulting.

"As the global economic downturn puts pressure on IT services spending, firms are taking a range of actions to deal with the cuts," said John McCarthy, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. "The pressure to reduce IT spending is going to continue well into 2010. The data shows no quick turnaround — it's going to be a tough year for services firms as clients increasingly ask them to justify the ROI for IT projects and provide more value for a lower price."

Other key highlights of the survey include:

... Infrastructure outsourcing priorities. When asked what infrastructure services their firm is currently outsourcing or plans to outsource to a third-party company in the next 12 months, survey respondents placed convergent telecommunication/network management services and data center management services at the top of the list.

... Application outsourcing priorities. Managed hosting services lead the list of application outsourcing priorities, with 44 percent of respondents currently outsourcing and six percent planning to use managed hosting services in the next 12 months. In addition, the outsourcing of packaged applications maintenance and support services increased from 27 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009, and another seven percent of respondents are planning to do so in the next 12 months.

... Systems integration priorities. Integration work installing or upgrading packaged applications remains a top activity, with 42 percent of respondents saying they already have a project under way or will hire a consultant for this in the next 12 months. Custom application design and development follows, with 38 percent of firms doing a project or hiring a consultant to do so in the next 12 months.

... IT consulting priorities. Forty-three percent of respondents have a security assessment project either already under way or one that will commence in the next year. Infrastructure virtualization and automation programs follow, with 32 percent of respondents hiring a consultant in the next 12 months or already having a project under way.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recession Creates Supply Chain Risk

Posted by Mark Brousseau

The drive to control operating costs and improve efficiencies by global businesses during recession has the potential to create new risk exposures within supply chains according to insurer ACE European Group (ACE).

Speaking at The Economist Risk Summit in London, Phil Wall - Senior Account Engineer at ACE, urged businesses to recognise that initiatives designed to reduce costs and streamline operations can create unforeseen side effects, such as increasing property loss and business interruption exposures within their supply chains.

He also called on businesses to consider adopting specific measures to mitigate these exposures. These include more rigorous risk identification, ‘best of class’ loss prevention standards in supply chains, greater communication with suppliers, and creating more robust alternative supplier arrangements.

The supply chain has been a key area of focus during the economic downturn, with companies adopting a number of different measures to achieve cost savings - in a recent survey sponsored by ACE, it was revealed that close to 60% of global businesses had negotiated lower prices with suppliers over the last year. Other measures taken by businesses include more outsourcing to third party suppliers, the placing of larger contracts with a reduced number of suppliers to achieve economies of scale, the consolidation of operations into large production facilities, the use of ‘mega’ distribution warehouses and a move to ‘just-in-time’ production.

Wall said: “Whilst such measures represent short-term gains on the balance sheet, businesses need to be aware of the potential impact of these initiatives and understand the additional longer term exposures that may come with these. The failure of one supplier in a small chain or an incident in a large scale warehouse creates very real and major risk exposures that could significantly damage a company.”

The use of suppliers in new and more cost effective territories is one area that highlights the scale of the new risk exposures. Wall explained: “These emerging markets can look like attractive options with cheaper labour costs. However, issues such as unknown loss prevention standards, political and infrastructure uncertainty, cultural differences and unforeseen natural hazard exposures can make them riskier and more costly options in the long-term.”

Wall called on the Summit audience of senior European executives involved in risk, strategy, finance and compliance across a broad range of industry sectors, to ensure the appropriate level of focus on the identification of new and emerging risk exposures is being applied within their organisations. He also urged businesses to demand “best of class” property loss prevention standards at critical facilities to help ensure that the supply chain is protected. In addition he advocated building stronger relationships, adopting a team approach with key suppliers to identify potential exposures and agree action plans to address them and identifying alternative suppliers to minimise the interruption in the supply chain.

Wall concluded: “Supply chain risk management needs more Board-level priority. Businesses cannot afford to underestimate the potential impact of these emerging risks.”

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

California Fast-Tracks Healthcare EDI

Posted by Mark Brousseau

California regulations for electronic workers' compensation billing slated for publication before end of this year are likely to see fast-tracked implementation, according to Jopari Solutions, a supplier of medical EDI connectivity and transmission for the property and casualty industry.

EBilling is a key initiative the California Insurance Commissioner and Division of Workers' Compensation officials say is essential, along with other benchmark recommendations, to streamline the state's workers' compensation system, rein in medical costs and keep employer costs down. This past week, the Commissioner rejected any recommended increase in California's workers' compensation pure premium rate.

California's eBill regulations will specify an 18-month phase-in period for workers' compensation payers to acquire the ability to process eBill transactions, after regulations get signed into law. n addition, California is adopting uniform electronic claim and remittance standards similar to those mandated in Texas and Minnesota, which are supported by national standards organizations.

Facilitating rapid transition by carriers is the fact that national and regional health care provider networks are eager to expand electronic bill submissions with payers into their California markets. A large percentage of local health care practices today also exchange electronic health insurance claims, payments and remittance, or have medical transaction ready EDI billing software. Compressed timely payment deadline for clean electronic bills under California eBill rules - fifteen days as opposed to forty-five days for uncontested paper bills - is another factor expected to put early pressure on carriers by their medical services trading partners.

As Jopari CEO JR "Steve" Stevens and veteran industry observer Peter Rousmaniere point out in a new whitepaper, The E-billing Transformation, the community of beneficiaries from the switch to electronic transmission of bills and supporting documentation, or attachments, goes beyond state agencies pushing for administrative simplification, better data and more stakeholder accountability. Stevens and Rousmaniere indicate, "Conventional transmission methods, heavily dependent on mail, faxing and scanning, impose delays and error rates which leading medical bill review firms estimate as upwards of 20 percent or more. Electronic submission largely sweeps away these defects." They explain that, "Claims payers should therefore approach e-billing not simply as a way of shaving the burdens of managing paper flow -- they should use e-billing to sweep away obstacles to improving the management of medical care."

Stevens and Rousmaniere conclude that payers undertaking early compliance initiatives will strengthen themselves competitively, both in California and nationally. Carriers slow to adopt electronic transmission methods, however, will remain burdened by antiquated workflow; unable to reduce delays and errors in the handling of medical information; and be handicapped in their attempts to control spiraling medical costs, they say.

What do you think?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Magazine Loves EMC Stock

Posted by Mark Brousseau

In it's current issue, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine names EMC one of its "5 Stable Tech Stocks You Should Love." Here's what the magazine had to say about the company:

As the business world grows increasingly digital, the amount of data companies must store is swelling. This unrelenting trend virtually guarantees steady growth for EMC Corp. (EMC), a leader in storage.

The market for storage hardware and software is plenty crowded, says Morningstar analyst Michael Holt, but EMC has differentiated itself by being "one of the first companies to push into network storage"--that is, storage on a central server. The company currently claims about 25% of this market. EMC's strategy is to sell customers both the low-margin hardware they need for storage and the high-margin software for smoothly accessing stored data.

Through its 84% stake in VMware, EMC is also "the leader in virtualization technology," says Halford. Virtualization, he explains, is an efficiency-improving technology that allows users to run multiple operating systems on a single machine. "Most surveys of chief technology officers rank virtualization as their top priority because the payback period on an investment is so short," says Jay Sekelsky, manager of the Madison Mosaic Investors fund, which owns shares of EMC.

The recession finally caught up to EMC in the first half of 2009. Sales and earnings per share fell 10% and 26%, to $6.4 billion and 34 cents, respectively, from the same period in 2008. Analysts expect earnings of 82 cents per share in 2009 and $1.03 in 2010, compared with $100 per share last year. At$15.19, the stock trades for 18 times 2009 profits and has popped 45% year-to-date.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Customers Drive Product Innovation

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Customers and in-house R&D teams are now the leading source of innovation for U.S. businesses, while globally customers are an organization's best source of innovation, according to new research from Grant Thornton International Ltd. When asked to name the origin of the best innovation ideas, U.S. business owners named customers (37%) and in house R&D teams (37%) as their leading sources of innovations followed by heads of business units (34%) and employees (32%). Globally, 41 percent of businesses say that customers are their leading source for innovation.

"In recent history the tech boom and the creation of internet social networking sites brought innovation and entrepreneurship into every American home," said Harris Smith, Grant Thornton LLP's managing partner for Private Equity and the Audit practice leader of the firm's Southern California offices. "Without entrepreneurs and innovation, America couldn't thrive."

Regionally the report reveals that in Asia Pacific customer focus is a particular source of innovative ideas and products with nearly half of businesses (48%) citing customers as the source of the best innovative ideas, compared with 40 percent in Western Europe and 35 percent in North America.

In addition, more than three in four businesses globally (78%) believe that the U.S. is the easiest country to create innovative products, services and business. The U.S. is the clear leader in this, with the next highest countries being China (22%), India (22%) and the U.K. (21%). Regionally, the U.S. is also seen as the leading country with 77 percent of Asian-Pacific businesses, 84 percent of North American businesses and 71 percent of European businesses saying it is the easiest country to create innovative products, services and business in.

"With the history of innovation in the U.S. spanning from the country's earliest beginnings, it's not hard to understand why businesses around the globe see America as the land of innovation," said Smith.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Countering the Content Conundrum

Posted by Mark Brousseau

In the article below, Bruce Sharpe of JustSystems takes structured content to the enterprise, showing how it can solve problems most people didn’t know could be fixed, problems that we all have if we work with content.

Have you ever spent hours poring over a document to ensure accuracy and inclusion of all edits made to earlier versions? Have you — or has your company — ever suffered consequences from taking content written for an internal audience and using it for sales or marketing — without thoroughly vetting it for external use?

No matter the department — HR, sales, marketing, legal, administration, etc. — many of you find that kind of content pain to be an unavoidable fact of work life, standard operating procedure. Unaware of a better way to create and manage content, you suck it up. Well, you can stop sucking because there is a better way, and that way is structured content — documents that have been chunked into meaningful component parts and tagged in a systematic fashion.

While it remains one of the best-kept enterprise secrets, structured content has long proven its value in technical communications where it mitigates risks, reduces costs, and increases revenues. Better still, the road to mature, standards-based structured content has been paved by organizations such as IBM and OASIS and standards such as DITA. Now, it’s time for other enterprise functions to realize the same benefits associated with structured content.

In brief, structured content brings organization and automation to content. Structured content lets content creators efficiently create, collaborate, manage and reuse high volumes of information, which can be repurposed into the languages and formats your customers demand.

The result? Organizations accelerate the cost-effective delivery of accurate information products — whether those products are for internal or external consumption, e.g., sales RFPs, marketing brochures, HR forms, legal contracts or any other department’s content.

So, what does structured content look like in the enterprise? It depends where you look.

In research & development, you can use structured content to create and manage engineering documents, technical publications, and strategy and planning documents. Here, structured content can help increase revenues by improving the ability of key employees, partners and vendors to share and discover documents, resulting in faster time to market for new products.

Meanwhile, costs can be reduced through content repurposing and reuse, which eliminates the duplication and re-creation of existing content. And structured content can mitigate R&D risk, for instance, helping companies avoid noncompliance, and improve customer satisfaction by ensuring the consistent use of authoritative content in product documentation.

In manufacturing, contracts, manufacturing operations, standard operating procedures and regulated documents all benefit from structured content. Revenue growth can come from streamlined creation of contracts and agreements, ultimately accelerating time to revenue. Cost reductions may be seen in reduced rework, recall and aftermarket service costs otherwise caused by inaccurate information in manufacturing documents. Risk can be mitigated by reducing the risk of inaccurate or inconsistent contracts, and by reducing the risk of human error associated with reviewing one-of-a-kind, complex legal documents.

In sales and marketing, structured content can be applied to sales and marketing collateral as well as contact center documents. The revenue opportunities in the sales and marketing department include developing a reusable library of proven RFPs and content to improve win rates. That reusable library also helps to reduce the costs of goods sold by reducing the time and costs associated with developing proposals and business correspondence. Predefined, reusable content components with approved language and standard terms and conditions mitigate risks by ensuring the accuracy of contracts and legally binding agreements.

In service and support, you can use structured content for maintenance and repair, technical support and training documents. To increase revenues, you could increase aftermarket sales through maintenance and repair operations supported with structured content. Cost reductions may be realized through content reuse, which reduces editorial and publishing costs. Structured content helps mitigate the risk of noncompliance and potentially catastrophic equipment failure by ensuring personnel have consistent, up-to-date maintenance and repair information.

In corporate administration, structured content can benefit legal and regulatory, human resources, and finance and operations documents. Revenue growth can come from improving the ability to discover patents and IP documentation for ongoing growth and protection of revenue streams. Cost savings may be realized by reducing redundant editorial and publishing costs, which lowers the cost of publishing and maintaining standard documents. Finally, structured content can help reduce the risks of errors during the review process and through regulatory filings, demonstrating that you have compliance policies in place.

Clearly, these are just a few of many examples in which structured content can benefit the organization. The important takeaway is that you don’t have to live with your current content conundrums. You can relieve the pain and realize significant advantages by embracing structured content, in whatever department you happen to work.

Dr. Bruce Sharpe brings over 25 years of technology leadership experience to JustSystems, including founding XMetaL and HoTMetaL content creation solutions. He held senior technical management positions at MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, Advanced Gravis, SoftQuad Software, Corel, and Blast Radius before successfully bringing XMetaL to JustSystems. Learn more about JustSystems at and contact Bruce at

Thursday, October 29, 2009

iPhone App for Car Payments

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Mercedes-Benz launched an iPhone application that allows customers to make a car payment, calculate the amount needed to pay off the loan, locate dealers and find customer service numbers. The Mercedes-Benz website describes it as the "coolest way to make a payment."

Some people might hear this news and think "we better do something with mobile", but Forrester Research recommends that companies use the POST (People Objective Strategy Technology) method to determine which technologies they deploy. The POST method starts with the P, understanding the People that the company serves and how they use their mobile devices. People fall into six major categories in terms of mobile phone usage. Nineteen percent (Inactives) do not own a mobile phone, 35 percent (Talkers) only use the voice features of their mobile phone and 13 percent (Communicators) use no data service other than text messaging. The next three categories use more features of their mobile phones; categories do overlap. 19 percent (Connectors) send or receive email on their mobile phones but use the mobile Internet less than weekly. Twenty percent (Entertainers) stream music or video and purchase music over their mobile phones. Twelve percent (SuperConnecteds) use the mobile Internet and log onto social networking sites from their mobile phones at least once a week.

Forrester Research says that after they understand the people they are serving, companies can then set their Objectives and determine what Strategy will accomplish their objectives. The final step is then to choose the technology that will enable the company to meet their strategy. The technology decision comes last in the process, not first, warns Forrester.

What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Enterprises Continue to Invest in Social Media

Posted by Mark Brousseau

A second annual survey of companies sponsoring online communities shows signs of increasing maturation as enterprises continue to invest in social media tools and online communities.

According to the survey, conducted by Deloitte, Beeline Labs and the Society for New Communications Research, 94 percent of the respondents indicated that they plan to maintain or increase investment in their communities, while only six percent plan to decrease investment.

However, while enterprises are effectively using these tools to engage with customers, partners and employees for brand discussions and idea generation, the survey also indicates that organizations continue to struggle with harnessing social media’s full potential.

The “2009 Tribalization of Business Survey” evaluates the perceived potential of online communities and identifies how enterprises believe they may better leverage them. The survey measured the responses of over 400 companies, including Fortune 100 organizations, which have created and maintain online communities today. The communities ranged from fewer than 100 members to more than one million members.

“Despite risks associated with participating in online communities, the internal costs of community formation and management, and the fact that we are in the midst of a profound recession, organizations’ continued and enhanced investment in online communities underscores the perceived potential for the value that they may provide to the enterprise,” said Ed Moran, director of product innovation, Deloitte Services LP. “Social media and communities are expected to continue to play a significant role in the way in which companies are interacting with employees, customers, partners and the larger business ecosystem, thereby redefining the very edge of the corporation.”

Of the companies surveyed, a majority agreed that increasing word-of-mouth (38 percent), customer loyalty (34 percent) and brand awareness (30 percent) continue to be the top business objectives of online communities, followed by idea generation (29 percent) and improved customer support quality (23 percent). However, in the majority of companies surveyed, marketing continues to be the primary driver of online communities, resulting in a significant gap between community goals and the organizations’ capability to fully leverage these communities on an enterprise wide basis.

Market Shows Signs of Maturation
Several data points indicate continued maturation of the enterprise’s use of communities and social media. For instance, this year’s survey pointed to an evolution in the way in which companies are tracking and engaging with both active and inactive members. While the number of active users and their level of participation have been considered the top measures of success for an online community, this year survey respondents are paying close attention to non-active users or “lurkers” – people who observe the community, but don’t participate in the discussion.

Thirty-two percent of respondents are capturing data on how these individuals derive value from the community.

Additionally, 20 percent of survey respondents have set up formal “ambassador” programs, which give outsiders preferential treatment in return for being more active in the community.

Thirty-nine percent of the survey respondents also indicated that more full-time people are being deployed to manage the communities.

“While we are seeing signs of maturation in this year's study, there are still plenty of companies who do not realize the power of communities, and others who have not yet figured out the proper approach for leveraging communities as part of their business,” said Francois Gossieaux, partner with Beeline Labs and a senior fellow with the Society of New Communications Research. “Businesses are truly become social again, and companies should look to leverage the collective wisdom of their employees, customers and partners in order to innovate faster, reduce costs, and bolster their bottom lines.”

Rethinking Community Success
According to the survey, the biggest obstacles to creating a successful community – getting people to join (24 percent), stay engaged (30 percent) and keep returning (21 percent) – can be easily remedied through partnering and new management practices. The study indicates that very few companies, however, are taking the steps necessary to overcome these challenges.

While 58 percent of respondents evaluated partnering with existing communities, complementary vendors or end users when developing their community, 55 percent of the companies that evaluated a partnership did not actually partner.

Furthermore, the survey also revealed significant gaps between community goals (such as generating word of mouth, customer loyalty and brand awareness) and how success is being measured. The top two analytics for measuring success are the number of active users (34 percent) and how often people post/comment (32 percent), indicating that participation is still considered to be the biggest measure of success. Potentially more useful analytics, however, such as increase in search engine rank and citations/links on other sites, are less often utilized, highlighting a mismatch between the desired outcome and how that outcome is measured.

“To realize the full benefit of social media and online communities, business leaders must move beyond viewing them as “bolt-ons” to their corporations,” added Moran. “Companies need to integrate the new information flows associated with the communities with those that already exist within their companies. New management strategies and practices will be critical, including redefining the scope and role of alliances as well as the overall boundary of corporations.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Healthcare System Automates AP

By Mark Brousseau

Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) has improved the productivity of its invoice processing by 12 percent by implementing a data capture solution from Kofax, Beverly A. Carling, manager, accounts payable at CHW, said yesterday at Transform 2009, the Kofax Annual Conference, held October 21-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, in San Diego. What’s more, Carling expects productivity to climb further as the organization becomes more experienced with the automated invoice technology. “We are projecting a productivity gain of 25 percent in 2010 compared to 2008,” Carling told attendees.

With the Kofax solution, CHW’s validators can now process 2,100 invoices per day, Carling said. “That’s a lot of transactions,” she said, adding that the organization now has an average of 1-2 days of unprocessed invoices in the queue – far below industry average for AP departments.

CHW is a healthcare system comprised of 41 acute care hospitals and approximately 20 health-related affiliated corporations located in California, Arizona and Nevada.

CHW implemented Kofax Advanced Data Capture earlier this year. It also uses ProcessFlow to manage AP work queues. The implementation of the Kofax technology came as CHW was consolidating its 30 invoice processing facilities, which processed about 1.6 million invoices a year (about a third of which are handled electronically), into two centers located in Sacramento and Phoenix. At the end of the transition, CHW’s invoice volume rose to 1.7 million invoices annually.

“Our goal was to build an AP center of excellence,” Carling said.

The Kofax solution is delivering data capture read accuracy of 80 to 85 percent, Carling explained. “We’re still experiencing some false positives, but we have an action plan in place to address that,” Carling said. “I’m expecting that we’re going to see results of 95 percent.” To eliminate some manual processes, CHW has 75 different AP companies set up in its system – providing the ability to read the name on an invoice and convert it into an AP number. About 65 percent of CHW’s total invoice volume is processed through data capture. “Data capture has helped us standardize what we are putting into the system and reduce the number of manual errors that we may have.” Carling said.

CHW’s results are even more impressive when you consider the complexity of invoice processing. The organization has tens of thousands of vendors, Carling said, and there is no standard of how vendors present the data. “And we don’t really have any leverage to dictate how data is presented.”

But the results are impressive. And additional savings may lie ahead.

“We haven’t been on data capture very long,” Carling said. “We continue to do issues tracking, mostly on the false positive side, and look for ways to improve the quality of the data capture.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kofax Targets Transactional Capture Market

By Mark Brousseau

Watch out ReadSoft – Kofax is coming for you.

“We are second in the transactional capture market, and we intend to be No. 1,” Alan Kerr, the company’s executive vice president of field operations, said during a presentation this morning at Transform 2009, the Kofax Annual Conference, scheduled for October 21-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. “This is where we are going. Everything we do is focused on that.”

Currently, Kofax enjoys a 9 percent market share in the transactional capture market, Kerr said – trailing only ReadSoft. Kofax leads the “All Capture” and “Image Capture” market segments.

Kerr said Kofax continues to spend “a lot of money” on research on development around document-driven business process automation. “We are enterprise ready. This is a consistent, well thought out, deliverable strategy. It’s not a vendor trying to cobble something together,” Kerr told attendees.

It’s little wonder that Kofax would set its sights on the transactional capture market. Kerr noted an IDC study predicting that the document capture market will continue to be one of the stronger growth areas of the content management market over the next five years. He added that despite talk about the “paperless office,” 75 percent of companies use mostly paper-based accounts payable processing. “These solutions are becoming increasingly mission-critical to the enterprises that use them,” he said.

“We’re looking at 9.6 percent growth for the market in which we operate,” Kerr explained. “This is a $2 billion market, driven by the real desire and thirst by end users to automate these processes.”

But even bigger opportunities may lie ahead.

“Just as forms processing and document capture came together to form a more robust market, we think capture will merge with business process automation to form a more robust market,” Kofax CEO Reynolds C. Bish said today. Anticipating this trend, Kofax has changed is corporate mission statement to: “Be the leading provider of document-driven business process automation solutions.”

“This is recognition of the dynamics of the market,” Bish said. “The more we thought about what we did, the more we realized that is was business process automation in a document driven application.”

Kerr describes Kofax as, “the on-ramp to automating business processes.”

Kofax’s biggest -- and most strategic -- move into the transactional capture market was its acquisition this year of 170 Systems, Inc., which expanded Kofax’s vision to include process automation, Bish told attendees this morning. “It was a very important transaction for us in a number of ways.”

“In the invoice processing market, we were at a competitive disadvantage because ReadSoft had the ability provide the complete solution that users were looking for,” Bish said. “We were unable to do that. We had to partner with several vendors.” By acquiring 170 Systems, Kofax can “deliver the complete solution end users expect and desire from a single point of procurement. It addresses a competitive weakness. And it positions us for leadership in the growing invoice processing market.”

Bish noted that most Kofax customers don’t have an invoice processing workflow solution, so Kofax has the opportunity to “take the 170 product and sell it to those customers.” Kerr added that invoice processing represents a “big opportunity” as a large and growing segment of the capture market.

Kofax acquired 170 Systems, Bish said, because it was an acknowledged leader of a manageable size and it supported both SAP and Oracle PeopleSoft. “It also had a flexible platform for automating other financial processes,” he said. “Our plan is to use their platform for other vertical markets.”

In the next nine to 12 months, Kofax will use the 170 Systems platform as a foundation to build a document-driven business process automation solution that breaks down the traditional boundaries between Kofax products – offering a turnkey transactional capture framework for any vertical. For instance, the solution will offer integrated administration and a new pricing model. “The devil is in the details, but this will be a more thoughtful integration,” said Kofax CTO Anthony Macciola.

Macciola said he’s not aware of any other solution on the market that is as packaged or as scalable as the platform that Kofax is building. “The 170 Systems infrastructure is very enterprise-oriented.”

“This is a very natural evolution for us,” Bish said. “If we’re capturing the document, why shouldn’t we look at, see what data we can glean from it, and then put it in front of a C-level executive?”

Kofax Direct Sales Take Off

By Mark Brousseau

Kofax is achieving significant “accelerating” growth with its two year-old direct sales initiative, Alan Kerr, the company’s executive vice president of field operations said during a general session this morning at Transform 2009, the Kofax Annual Conference, scheduled for October 21-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

Shortly after Reynolds C. Bish joined Kofax at CEO nearly two years ago, the company began to move away from a purely channel-centric sales model, where it avoided direct engagement of customers. While the channel-centric sales model served Kofax well for many years, some large organizations around the world said they would rather have a direct relationship with Kofax, Bish said. So the company adopted a hybrid go-to-market model that uses both direct and indirect channels.

Now, “the business is exploding,” Kerr told the mix of Kofax business partners and end-users.

In the first half of Kofax’s fiscal year 2009, direct sales represented 14 percent of its software license revenues, Kerr said. In the second half of the company’s fiscal year 2009, direct sales doubled to 28 percent of its software license revenues. Looking ahead, Kerr said direct sales should represent 48 percent of the company’s software license revenues in the first quarter of its 2010 fiscal year.

“Do not misinterpret this,” Kerr said. “There is growth with our partner channel. We are selling to end-users who weren’t part of it.” Some end-users refused to buy through partners, Kerr said.

Bish told attendees that the company is executing on its hybrid go-to-market strategy "without encountering any major channel conflict. I think I can count on one hand the number of times we've had a conflict, and to the best of my knowledge, they have all been resolved amicably."

Kerr emphasized that Kofax continues to invest in its strategic relationships. “We continue to invest in technology vendors,” he said. “We have a comprehensive, global, world-class set of partner programs.”

Attendance Up At Kofax Transform

By Mark Brousseau

At a time when reduced travel budgets are negatively impacting many conferences and other industry events, attendance at Transform 2009, the Kofax Annual Conference, scheduled for October 21-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, in San Diego, is up about 30 percent compared to 2008, Alan Kerr the company’s executive vice president of field operations said during a session to kick-off the event.

With a theme of “The Need for Speed,” this year’s Transform event opened with a video montage blending the Kofax value proposition, heart-thumping music, and images of race cars, military jet planes and race horses.

Kerr told attendees that this year’s Transform event for the Americas attracted 425 attendees; 278 of the delegates represent Kofax business partners and 147 are from end-user organizations. “Unlike previous Transform events, this year’s conference is both an end user and partner event. In previous years, we were focused primarily on partners,” Andrew Pery, chief marketing officer at Kofax said during a press briefing last night. “We now have a good balance between partners and users.”

To ensure the event appealed to both partners and users, Pery said Kofax worked hard to develop an agenda that includes a broad range of product and industry sessions, as well as certification classes by AIIM and IOMA. “We’re trying to deliver value beyond product information,” Pery explained.

Some 392 attendees at this year’s Transform event are from the United States, 12 are from Canada, two are from Mexico and two are from South America, Kerr said. Approximately 20 of the users come from the user base of 170 Systems, which Kofax recently acquired. The event also has guests from Indonesia, India, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. Kofax will host a Transform event in Berlin, Germany, October 26-27 for partners and users from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Attendance at that event also is expected to be up, Pery said.

Transform sponsors include Fujitsu (the Platinum sponsor for the event), Canon, Bowe Bell+Howell, HP, Epson America, OPEX Corporation, A2iA, Computing System Innovations (CSI), FileBound, Ricoh, ibml, Therefore, AdvancedCaptureTeam, and Panasonic.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Your Information Secure?

By Mark Brousseau

The records management industry has entered into a new era where organizations need to place a much greater emphasis on securing their electronic information, says Steve Adams, senior records analyst for the National Archives and Records Administration. “We’ve got to change our mindset. We’ve got to become more suspicious,” Adams said during a presentation last week at the 54th annual ARMA International Conference and Expo, in Orlando’s World Center Marriott in Florida.

“The more we get into technology, the more vulnerable we have become,” Adams told attendees, adding that “Microsoft software is so vulnerable to cyber attacks that it is not even funny.”

Adams noted a Gartner study predicting that 30 percent of enterprises using wireless LANs will experience serious security exposure. Adams said over known 200 malicious software programs have been developed for this very purpose. What’s more, a survey by the Computer Security Institute found that 85 percent of computers have been damaged by cyber attacks – despite the fact that 89 percent of these computers had firewalls and 60 percent had intrusion detection. “The really frightening part is that 60 percent of these breaches were from inside the organization,” Adams said.

Sound security practices protect electronic information by preventing, detecting and responding to cyber attacks and other data breaches, Adams told the three dozen people in attendance.

One challenge to good information security is some common myths. These include the notion that:

... Anti-virus software and firewalls are 100 percent effective
... Once software is installed, you don’t have to worry about it again
... There is nothing important on your computer, so you don’t have to worry about it
... Attackers only target rich people
... When computers slow down, it means they are getting old

To help secure your electronic information, Adams provided the following strategies:

... Maintain and use anti-virus software (“But too much or the wrong kind can also cause problems,” Adams said)
... Install a firewall
... Regularly scan for Spyware
... Keep your operating software up to date
... Remove unused software programs
... Follow good security practices
... Be careful what Web sites you visit
...Turn your computer off when you’re not using it
... Never leave your computer unattended at an airport or other public place

Adams said companies should also use good password protocols – requiring staff to use at least eight characters (which take longer to crack) and change their passwords often. And nobody should be exempt from the policy; Adams said senior managers are the worst offenders of password policies.

Organizations should also be mindful of thumb drives, Adams said. While they are excellent tools for transporting information, they also can get through most metal detectors undetected – providing a vehicle for crooks to get information out of your organization without anyone ever noticing, he said.

“We’ve got to have good strategies for how we protect our information,” Adams concluded.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Webb Edwards to Deliver Keynote Address at Kofax's Transform Event

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Webb Edwards, one of the nation’s preeminent banking technology leaders and experts, will provide a keynote presentation at Kofax’s Transform 2009 Americas event on October 22 in San Diego, CA. I will be blogging throughout the Kofax event.

Formerly Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo Services, the technology and operations subsidiary of Wells Fargo, Webb is recognized nationally as a leading authority on technology strategies in both back and front office enterprise environments that span infrastructure, mainstream business applications development, payment systems, ATM services, risk management and data architecture. He currently advises and consults with organizations concerning their strategies in these and other areas.

“Webb brings a practical perspective on how organizations can realize increased operational efficiency, improved competitive agility and foster better customer satisfaction by automating labor intensive and error prone document driven business processes. As such, he’ll provide invaluable insights to Transform attendees,” said Reynolds C. Bish, Chief Executive Officer at Kofax.

Bish and Alan Kerr, Executive Vice President of Field Operations, will also provide keynote presentations that highlight and explain Kofax’s strategic initiatives designed to help customers and partners realize more value from the company’s product portfolio, including those arising from the recent acquisition of 170 Systems. Transform 2009 will also showcase industry specific case studies and presentations from over 20 major customers that span financial services, insurance, healthcare, government, manufacturing and high technology.

Transform 2009 Americas will be held October 21-22 in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel. Major sponsors include Fujitsu, Ricoh, HP, Canon, Computing System Innovations (CSI), Panasonic, Bowe Bell Howell, Opex, FileBound, ibml, Advanced Capture Team, Therefore and A2iA.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

News from the ARMA Conference: Saturday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Vital Path Announces Migration Center for the Desktop

At the ARMA Conference, Vital Path announced Migration Center as the newest addition to its lineup of content migration and integration solutions. Migration Center is a desktop solution designed to solve the majority of content migration needs. For more complicated and larger migration projects (over 50 Gigabytes) companies can upgrade to Migration Center Enterprise or the full PathBuilder Server based product.

Migration Center enables end users to migrate their content without the need to hire expensive consultants or have programming experience. Migration Center’s intuitive interface provides easy attribute mapping and dashboard reporting for the most basic user.

Migration Center is designed to provide a complete migration solution, without professional services for eRoom, SharePoint, Livelink, Hummingbird, Documentum, Docushare and File Shares.
Migration Center allows users to map custom attributes and types, migrate users, groups, and permissions, and apply data transformations to metadata values.

Pricing for the solution starts at $2495.

In other Vital Path news, the company's president Jay Rothe, was featured on a panel discussion at the 54th Annual ARMA Conference. The session, part of the Exclusively IT track, was entitled “A Holistic Approach to Enterprise Solutions: How can RIM, IT and Business Process Work in Tandem to Adopt a Solution?”

The discussion focused on the challenge of managing multiple records repositories across enterprises, which is often inconsistent and incomplete, further complicated by a tedious discovery process for each application. The panelists offered enterprise solutions that meet these challenges, and talked about tools available to help and ease the process.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

News from the ARMA Conference: Friday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

ZL to Present E-Discovery and Archiving Best Practices

ZL Technologies, Inc., will showcase its Unified Archive platform and present two seminars at LIT-Con, the Legal information Technology Conference, co-presented by ARMA International and ILTA, Oct. 15-16, at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

ZL President & CEO Kon Leong, will conduct two seminars to educate attendees on how to recognize the emerging differentiators between archiving and e-discovery solutions.

... “Large Enterprise Email Archiving Projects Often Fail. Find Out Why” -- Friday, Oct. 16, 2:30 – 3:45 p.m, Expo Floor, Room 1230.Electronically stored information (ESI) archiving is still a nascent field that is expanding in scope and functionality. Most early adopters were compelled to abandon legacy solutions unable to accommodate an expanding set of challenging requirements. This seminar examines several key breaking points of archiving solutions, enabling decision makers to identify the criteria necessary for successful archiving deployments.

... “E-Discovery: Why Most Enterprise Implementations Fail To Make the Grade” -- Friday, Oct. 16, 10:30 a.m. – noon, Palms Ballroom, Canary 3.In the enterprise, archiving as a proactive approach to E-Discovery typically involves billions of documents. Without a unified approach to archiving, E-Discovery searches take hours or days to complete. This seminar will explain why and how E-Discovery software fails to serve its intended purpose, introducing legal professionals to the technological pitfalls of E-Discovery across the enterprise.

Laserfiche Presents Transparent Records Management

Laserfiche is showcasing transparent records management at ARMA International’s 54th Annual Conference & Expo at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

“Laserfiche Records Management Edition (RME) reduces costs, improves accountability and enhances security,” said Margaret Anderson, Certified Records Manager for Collin County, Texas.

Laserfiche says its transparent records management enables records managers to manage multiple software applications, multiple departments’ information requirements and multiple records series and retention schedules without raising costs or disrupting everyday work processes.

Laserfiche Senior Vice President Chris Wacker added, “Laserfiche RME improves adherence to a records management plan with the functionality users appreciate, uniting document management and DoD 5015.2-certified records management in a single platform.”

Collin County’s Anderson presented a session titled, “Implementing an Electronic Document & Records Management Project," to help participants assess the document management needs of their organizations and teach best practice tips for simplifying records management implementations. She outlined the critical steps for planning the implementation and integration of an electronic records system.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

News from the ARMA Conference: Thursday

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Canon U.S.A. demonstrates its image capture technologies

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is showcasing its high-speed scanning devices at the 54th ARMA International Conference and Expo in Orlando. Also at this year’s show, Canon is offering a sneak preview of its newest imageFORMULA models -- the imageFORMULA P-150 Personal Scanner and imageFORMULA DR-2020U Universal Workgroup Scanner.

“As a recognized leader in scanning and image capture technologies, Canon is committed to providing advanced solutions to meet the needs of customers in all working environments,” said Jim Rosetta, vice president and general manager, Imaging Systems Group, Canon U.S.A. “Maintaining precise, accurate and organized records is an essential business practice that all companies must implement, and throughout this show, Canon will show how its leading technologies can help streamline the record-management process.”

Helping to address the ever-evolving and growing needs of managing information, files and records in the workplace, Canon will exhibit how its leading and award-winning image capture devices will assist organizations in developing and implementing a more streamlined, efficient method for records management. Products on display at the show include:

… imageFORMULA P-150 Personal Scanner
… imageFORMULA DR-2020U Universal Workgroup Scanner
… imageFORMULA DR-6010C Departmental Scanner
… imageFORMULA DR-7550C Production Scanner
… imageFORMULA DR-X10C Production Scanner
… imageFORMULA ScanFront 220P Network Scanner

At ARMA, Canon will have two solution software vendors, FileBound and I.R.I.S. Professional Solutions on display in its booth. FileBound will be showing its Filebound AP software, which streamlines accounts payable processes, running in conjunction with a customized Canon ScanFront 220P Network Scanner. I.R.I.S. will be showing its IRISPowerscan production scanning and OCR solution, running with a Canon DR-X10C Production Scanner.

Kodak showcases solutions that capture and preserve critical documents

Kodak’s experts will provide live document imaging product demonstrations in booth # 911 throughout ARMA ‘09, from Oct. 15-17 in Orlando.

According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, businesses and organizations in the United States contribute to the annual growth of more than 4 trillion paper documents in existence. A call for stronger compliance and disaster recovery strategies increases the urgency for electronic records solutions to replace paper-based processes. Kodak’s technology and its network of value-added resellers (VARs) help various organizations establish a digital document infrastructure to preserve information for maximum accuracy and accessibility. Existing users include NASA, the GSA, the Massachusetts State Registry of Deeds, and other local and state government agencies.

“More than ever, it’s important to recognize the critical role that electronic information plays in advancing the capabilities of a business or organization,” said Roger Markham, Product and Channel Marketing Manager, US&C, Document Imaging, Kodak’s Business Solutions and Services Group. “The combined ability to preserve these digital records over a long period of time, as well as access to information on-demand, establishes a very strong foundation.”

Kodak’s says its booth showcases the advantages of combining capture hardware and software technology to help to create an effective capture and preservation platform. For example, KODAK Capture Pro Software, v 2.0, a software application with open compatibility for third-party scanners, as well as Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), makes it easier to input, validate and populate index fields. Kodak will demonstrate the software with its KODAK i780 Scanner and KODAK i1860 Scanner. Kodak will also display Capture Pro Software with a BÖWE BELL + HOWELL Ngenuity Scanner. BÖWE BELL + HOWELL Scanners are now a part of Kodak.

Archiving capabilities of the new KODAK i9600 Series Application Software will be demonstrated with the KODAK i750 Scanner, a hybrid capture and preservation solution that converts digital files such as PDF, PDF/A and MICROSOFT WORD documents to microfilm archival storage. The KODAK i9600 Series Application Software integrates seamlessly with virtually any scanner, the vendor says, making it easy for channel partners to customize solutions that meet long term (>500 years) regulatory and compliance requirements, without concern of system or software obsolescence. This makes it an ideal archiving partner for any digital storage system.

Kodak will also demonstrate its KODAK Scan Station 500 and KODAK i1320 Plus Scanner. The Scan Station 500, a networked scanner device, will be on display with a new user-friendly keyboard that extends the scanner’s ability to quickly and easily share digital information from a single machine. Other capabilities include its exclusive Voice Attachment feature that allows users to send digital files with an audio message. The KODAK i1320 Plus Scanner will demonstrate Kodak’s Smart Touch feature, which allows document sharing and distribution with the press of a single button.

“Kodak’s broad portfolio of capture hardware and software allows us to create scalable solutions that include hybrid capabilities for film-based archiving, as well as digital access,” said Robert Breslawski, ImageLink Media and Equipment Portfolio Manager, Document Imaging, Kodak’s Business Solutions and Services Group. “Kodak continues to work with its channel partners to help customers strengthen their capabilities for enhancing control over critical information from paper-based documents.”