Scalability: Why It Matters!

Most CEOs and business owners are constantly assessing the best way to grow their companies. While there is no definitive answer when it comes to business development, there is one step that all businesses must take prior to seeing growth. A solid and scalable infrastructure must be put in place to allow any business to grow efficiently and profitably.

Scalability Matters

Processes can easily become insufficient as a company attempts to grow. A manual process that once took an employee a few hours each week can become a full time role, taking away from other areas of the business that need attention. This causes both the company and employee to suffer.

Growth should not mean that employees are required to work more hours or extend their job scopes. Scalable infrastructures mean the process is so automated and integrated that the additional load can be taken on with little-to-no notice (except in increased profits).

Each process within an organization must be assessed and the question asked, “Will this be sufficient to help me achieve my growth goals?” If the answer is “no,” steps must be taken to ensure that it will not cause problems in the future.
One of the top strategies for implementing a scalable infrastructure is turning to technology, such as automation. Automation has made the daily lives of workers significantly better in many areas. For example, data entry can go from a time-intensive manual job to the simple process of scanning in documents. Software, like Advanced Data Spectrum‘s Intelligent Data Capture, will not only increase efficiency, but will show an immediate return on investment by allowing staff to reallocate their time to other revenue-focused activities. It will allow you to grow without having to reassess and implement new processes at each business phase, meaning you have a truly scalable business.

6 Rules to Productive Employees

Are your employees as productive as possible?

Business TeamThe move to automation has proven to increase productivity for many employees by removing tedious activities from their daily routine. Automating tasks, such as data capture and data entry, allows for extra time that your employees can use to focus on other projects to benefit your business. In addition, there are several rules you, as an employer, can abide by to ensure your employees stay focused and on task.

In an article that appeared on money.CCN.com, productivity is attributed to finding the right measurement for the job. “Measuring Minds at Work” outlined six rules to ensure your employees are working hard.
1.     Ask Your Employees: If your employees assist with the system of measurement and know their productivity is being evaluated, they’re more likely to feel a sense of ownership and flourish.
2.      Make It Multidimensional: Look at all levels of the worker’s contribution. Everyone thrives and struggles in different areas, so identify those to get a better sense of productivity on each of those levels.

3.      Include an Objective Measure: Include measurements that can be accounted for from the outside so a tangible goal can be reached.

4.      Include a Subjective Measure: Get feedback from the employee, as well as the manager. The worker’s response will give you insight into their mindset.

5.      Don’t reinvent the wheel: If your worker doesn’t need to start from scratch, don’t make them. Utilize the materials that are already created to ensure efficiency.

6.     No Worker is an Island: Encourage team work so no employee feels like they’re on their own.

Don’t let your business suffer from inefficient and unproductive workers. Learn more about ensuring employee productivity by reading the rest of the article here .

6 Steps to Optimized Document Management

Data and document management can be a costly and time-intensive process for any business. On top of the hours that must be spent manually entering data, the likelihood of human error is high. What if you could simplify the entire process to ensure greater efficiency and accuracy on top of lowering costs for your business? The solution: automating your document and data management process.

Automation is the key to optimization. Automation of any document management workflow includes 6 steps:

  1. CAPTURE: Send your documents in via scanner, email, fax, import, etc.
  2. CLASSIFY: The document type is then identified (ex. invoice or credit memo).
  3. RECOGNIZE: Automatic character recognition (OCR / ICR) is completed so all resulting data and data values are stored.
  4. EXTRACT: Data requirements are extracted based on document type by pre-set rules, templates, keywords and dictionaries.
  5. VALIDATE/EXPORT: Extracted data is validated against host application data to ensure accuracy, and then exported for processing.
  6. ADDITIONAL WORKFLOW: All subsequent workflow should be managed for exceptions, review and approvals, as well as archiving and integrated retrieval from any business application.

These six steps, most likely performed today by an employee, could be made more efficient if moved to a technology solution. The benefits of optimizing your document management process through technology include:

  • Reduction of errors associated with manual data entry
  • Automatic verification that data is valid and accurate
  • Reduction in document fraud and increased security
  • Leverage of captured data to automatically index image
  • Speed routing and approvals to accelerate the transaction cycle
  • Reallocation of employee time to more value-added activities

Don’t continue to let disjointed and error-prone business processes slow your success. Learn more about optimizing document management and how Advanced Data Spectrum can help by visiting our website.

How Much Does Your Data Cost?

Businesses track costs closely. A savvy business owner or CFO knows exactly what it costs to deliver their product or service. They know the cost of office space, talent, phone and internet services, even advertising and marketing costs. However, few businesses track the costs of acquiring data.

How could this cost be overlooked? Data keeps the business running! Systems generate information and reports, messages are queued, and databases are populated. Despite the rise of web engagement and mobile devices, the brutal reality of the business world is that a large portion of outside data comes into our businesses on paper or electronic documents (PDF, etc).How much does your data cost? photo by freedigitalphotos.net- Adamr

The acquisition of that data comes at a significant cost to the organization. The question is, how much?

To determine your data costs, there are several factors to consider:

1. Where in the process is data captured?

The cost of data changes depending on what point in the business process it is captured and validated. Often, acquisition of data occurs on an “as needed” basis at the point of processing the transaction. Business best practices show that capturing all necessary data earlier in a business process provides significant benefits. On the other hand, data capturing costs increase later in the process.

2. How is data being captured?

When it comes to capturing data off of paper or in other non-accessible formats there are two primary methods: Key from Image (KFI) or automated data capture technologies. Not all KFI solutions are created equal. With KFI solutions, your company may be saddling some of your best talent with data entry work, which is an inefficient use of company resources. Building an automated data capture solution in tandem with KFI applications and your business systems can increase efficiencies and eliminate costs.

3. Where is the data used or needed in the business process?

…and does it arrive there automatically? Automated data capture technologies can automate the input of data, create look-ups and validations, and execute business rules. Often the burdens of managing tasks and document flow cost the business in other ways, including management effectiveness. With automated data capture, instead of managing the paperwork shuffle and assigning employees to tasks, managers can focus on throughput, accuracy, employee engagement, and business results. With the current methods of delivery, how often is your data seamlessly arriving in the right place at the right time?

With these questions in mind, how much is your data costing you? How could your business benefit from increased data capture accuracy, faster data delivery, higher employee productivity and advanced workflow and routing?

 

Spirit of Giving

Everyone deserves a bit of Christmas cheer.  Sometimes though, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, we tend to forget others outside our circle of family and friends.  So how can you break from the usual, get out and do something for the greater good?  Pay it forward?  Here are five incredibly easy ideas to get you going.  For more great ideas on giving back in your local area, visit http://www.volunteermatch.org/.

1)      Volunteer at a local animal shelter.  If you don’t have time to volunteer, perhaps drop off a bag of food or giving a monetary donation for the shelter to use.

2)      Volunteer to read to a class or mentor a student at your local school.  The little kids LOVE hearing someone other than the teacher read to them.

3)      Take cookies or desserts to your local fire or police station.  All you need to do is double your batch!

4)      Have your office staff get into teams of 2 or 3 and select wishes from an Angel Tree.  Your heart will be so happy you did.

5)      Visit your local Senior Center and decorate resident doors, play games, play the piano, or just talk.  It gets so lonely during the holidays.

See, it’s simple.  Now go out and make someone smile!  Just imagine the difference we could make if everyone just did a little something.

Be Thankful

It’s that time of year, the time to give thanks.  Your Facebook news feed may be full of friends posting daily “today I am thankful for…” statements; it’s turned into an annual tradition for a lot of people.  But why do we wait until November every year to really think about the things we are grateful for?  For most of us, we are truly thankful most of the time for our family, friends, health, the air we breathe, etc. right?

I considered doing the posts this year, but talked myself out of it.  Why you ask?  Because I want to make an effort all year to truly be grateful for all the blessings in my life.  That means more than just making something up on a daily basis and asking for forgiveness if I happen to miss a day. (I promise no one cares about your posts that much)  Beyond the obvious things that I am thankful for, I think I am most appreciative of the technology that we have – and that it will only get better as we continue to innovate each and every day.  Think for a minute about how we communicated back in the 80s.  We used pay phones, party lines and fought with our siblings over who gets to use the home phone.  Unless you saw someone at church, a slumber party or the skating rink over the summer you wouldn’t know if they got a new shirt or haircut until everyone gathered back at school in the fall.  Today, we have MCM (man crush Monday), WCW (the Wednesday woman crush), TBT (Throwback Thursdays) and the selfie (which I just heard today has made the dictionary and is the word of the year).  We have connected with friends from our past and even go as far as dating and marrying people that we meet online!  Yes, times have changed socially.  But it has also impacted the way we do business.  We have the ability to work better, faster and more efficiently with technology, spreading our reach globally.   I am amazed every Wednesday when I am on a Skype call with our UK office.  It’s like he is right here with us instead of across the ocean.  Think about how businesses use social media on a daily basis to not only sell products, but to just be a voice.  Voices change the world.  I am thankful I have been around see it come this far.

So much has changed both socially and economically over the past decade.  Are you up to speed?  Are you doing what you can to ensure that your business processes are taking advantage of the technology available to run as efficient as possible?  If not, you should.  We are here to help, just give us a call.

You will be thankful you did.

A Veterans Day Message

As an Air Force veteran myself, I want to extend our appreciation for the service of the men and women in our armed forces on this Veterans Day. We honor the sacrifices made by them and their families in the service of our country and the protection of our freedom.

Serving my country and working with the outstanding men and women that served with me was a privilege as well. My military experience instilled in me the qualities and values that continue to guide me personally and that shaped the core values that guide our company.

Clint Carter, President & CEO, Advanced Data Spectrum

 

 

 

Scary Costs of Data Entry

Businesses spend so much time and energy tracking data… Whether its numbers, words, checkboxes, etc. we are often overcome with all the information we gather and ultimately store to use or to have for compliance reasons (or just because we think we need to).  I often wonder if we really understand how much time and effort is put into saving all those receipts, email printouts (because we feel safer with paper), filing the old invoices, worksheets and admission/application forms, the list is endless!  My guess is “no.”  It’s scary to think of what it may cost if you put a pen to it!   I am not even talking about how much it costs to literally have someone organize all that paper (probably copies), look at each piece and pull only the relevant information from it, and then type it into a spreadsheet…later to be distributed to a group of executives may or may not read it.  AND, this could be multiplied across the various departments in your organization!   What a nightmare!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your data entry staff spend less time with manual entry and more time focused on your customers?  We know, across industries, that efficiency is a key component to most operational strategies.  But how can you make these tasks less painful and more importantly, less costly?   Believe it or not, it can be done.  Although it may sound frightening, we can help you reduce overhead and expenses associated with the high cost of data entry so your staff can focus on more profit driven strategies.  In our latest white paper, we put some perspective on how you can determine how much your data really does cost.

So it’s your choice, you can get your “scare” on by going to a haunted house or dive right in and determine how much your data entry costs.  If you dare…

Gamification of Operations and Data Entry

Gamification is a relatively new buzz word in the industry; it is a trend that is still trying to find its place in the business world. In concept, gamification should drive engagement and improve productivity and quality. For those who might be new to the term, gamification is the application of game theory, mechanics and techniques into non-game applications or processes. Gamification works by leveraging people’s natural desires for competition, achievement, and status to improve user engagement, productivity, timeliness, and quality. Often, we see gamification applied in marketing campaigns or social and web communities, with an estimated 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies using or planning to use gamification techniques for marketing and customer retention.

The game mechanics typically applied are points, levels, badges, achievements and leaderboards. The application of these mechanics can be used to drive desired behavior. In most internal business processes, similar concepts exist; however, often these items are hidden in reports or employee reviews.

In operational groups, where productivity is critical to success, gamification adds a sense of competition and engagement with the staff. Every operation group tracks a series of key performance indicators (KPIs). A weighted productivity metric (benchmarked for level of effort) combined with a quality metric easily converts into a “score”. Publicizing the score with the individuals name creates a leaderboard. Making it public and visible feeds into the competitive nature of the staff. Adding to the leaderboard with prizes, awards or badges creates a reward system and adds urgency to that competition.

A real life implementation of these very simple techniques shows the tremendous value that gamification can add. At an outsourced service bureau, we took over a portion of our client company’s data entry work. The client company was skeptical of our ability to perform at a high level, and was benchmarking us against their internal resources. We implemented two public leaderboards (productivity and quality) and created an award system. The awards were small prizes (gift cards) and given at the end of each week with a larger prize given at the end of the year. The results were immediate and obvious. Our team was able to perform 50% more work in the same period and maintained a quality rating of 99.98%. The results were improved throughput and quality at a lower cost for our customer and continued growth for our service bureau as the client company shifted more of that work to our organization.

At the end of the day, gamification is just an evolution or extension of existing business practices. And, while it might have its detractors, in the right environment for the right audience, it can be a tool that can “level up” your team.

Interested in learning more? Engage our consulting services! Contact us today at www.advanceddataspectrum.com

Living Your Core Values

Today, I turned my calendar page to the next month and saw that September’s theme was “Responsibility – Knowing and doing what is expected of me” along with the following quote:

 “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their Commitment to Excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” – Vince Lombardi (emphasis mine)

Since “Commitment to Excellence” is one of our company’s core values, it resonated with me that our core values are reflected in the way we choose to live our lives every day. Reading that quote gave me a chance to reflect on how I have chosen to live my life, and why our company core values resonated with me as a framework for how we choose to conduct ourselves within our organization.
Core Values: Commitment to Excellence
I find myself introspecting on my life quite a bit lately, and I will ask you to consider the same questions I have asked of myself:

  • What are my personal core values?
  • Do my priorities match those core values?
  • What will I do to ensure my priorities match my core values and create the life I want to live?
  • What will I do today to live my personal core values?

One more question for you to consider: What will you do today to demonstrate your company’s core values to your co-workers and customers?