Building a Core of Internal Champions for Your ECM Project

Your organization is buried in paper. And if it’s not negatively impacting the service you provide your customers or members, it will be soon. But you’ve come up with a solution: use enterprise content management (ECM) to electronically capture documents and the important information that surrounds them.

Not only will it decrease your reliance on paper and speed up your processes with instant access to information, it also saves money on shipping and storing all that paper. Plus, it gives you the ability to proactively comply with regulations. You can even integrate your ECM platform with the systems you rely on every day so information is accessible from the applications your employees use every day.

With a quick return on investment, it should be an easy sell, right?

Now comes the tricky part: getting other people in your organization on board. Here are my top five best practices to help share your vision with other decision makers.

1. Start with paper-intensive processes that affect customer and member service
The best places to start looking for internal champions are where paper-based processes affect service. For example, many financial institutions store information like IDs and signature cards at the branch where customers or members originally signed up. When they visit a different branch, they’re forced to wait while their information is faxed over. Do you really want to make them wait hours or even days for paperwork?

Providing exceptional customer or member service is a great way to differentiate your organization, so this is a great area to look for champions. People who interact with customers and members will understand how immediate access to information is a huge benefit, both internally and externally.

2. Identify your core of internal champions
The higher up you go in the organization to find evangelists, the greater influence those people will have with the executive team. Show these people how capturing documents and information electronically gives them increased visibility into processes and empowers them with real-time information.

Find experts who can help others understand how inefficient, paper-based processes can be optimized and how the solution can be expanded across the organization to share information to further increase speed and accuracy. Be sure to find out what return on investment these individuals expect. The more questions you can anticipate and answer, the more likely you’ll be able to give the ultimate decision makers the answers they’re looking for.

3. Develop your core of internal champions
Find out what pains your influencers are experiencing and schedule a short session to teach them how an ECM solution can quickly solve their issues. Show your advocates how capturing and storing documents and information electronically lets employees instantly access them, so they take care of customers or members immediately, instead of making them wait.

Demonstrate how ECM takes their cumbersome day to day processes and automates them – minimizing their workload, increasing their efficiency and providing consistency. Once your champions see the positive changes an ECM solution brings, you’ll have a team full of believers.

4. Respect that change is challenging
Manage your project with the knowledge that many people like paper because it’s tangible – they can hold it in their hands and feel connected to the information on it. Gently remind them that paper isn’t secure. It can be lost, accidentally thrown away and it’s always going to be susceptible to disasters like fires or floods.

Focus on the impact on what ECM does for them. The more you help them understand how an ECM solution helps change their daily life for the better, the more likely they’ll be to jump on board.

5. Engage your champions to evangelize to the entire organization
Effective internal communication about an ECM project can build momentum and have a positive effect on morale and culture. Set up training classes for the “new, better way” to do things. Come up with a way to make the proposed changes a positive push, instead of a negative adjustment. The more people talk about making information available with the click of a mouse, the more the idea will seem like a no-brainer.

Unite people to make your project a reality
People will have an easier time joining your cause when you show them how decreasing your dependency on paper increases speed and accuracy, cuts costs and helps provide superior service. Then you can move on to show them how you’ll be able to proactively comply with regulations like Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms.

Going into the process with these tips in mind, you’ll set yourself – and your organization – up for success. The trick is unleashing your most important assets: people. The more people you can get on board and the higher up you reach, the easier it will be to initiate an ECM project that everyone will thank you for. Just not on paper.

Michelle Harbinak Shapiro

Michelle Harbinak Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro brings more than 15 years of experience in the banking industry to her role as Financial Services marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best practices and evangelize the power of ECM as a tool for banks, credit unions and lenders to help automate paper-based processes and proactively manage regulations.

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