3 keys to effectively implementing ECM
Embracing change is part of doing business at Discovery Benefits. As a third-party benefits administrator, it’s critical the company quickly adapts to changing business requirements as needed.
One of the ways the company remains agile is through its use of technology – leveraging what it already owns to continually enhance operations.
That was the point Dean Johnson, OnBase manager at Discovery Benefits, made during his presentation last week at AIIM17. In order for the company to constantly evolve, it leverages its enterprise content management (ECM) system to automate and streamline business processes enterprise-wide.
“We’re not looking to go out and buy a system, especially if we can find a way to do it with our existing ECM system,” Johnson said. “We try to do as much as we can with what we have.”
As Johnson explained, leveraging an ECM system is a great way to improve operations – all by utilizing one system rather than purchasing several niche applications that support specific departmental needs.
How to get the most from ECM
If you’re looking to transform processes, here are three areas Johnson encouraged attendees to consider:
1. Get executive buy in
In order for any project to be successful, it’s imperative you get the support of executives and upper management.
At Discovery Benefits, doing so really changed the way the organization approached ECM.
“If you don’t have buy in from the C-levels, it’s hard to convince your individual teams and departments to actually do a project or even go with an ECM product,” Johnson said.
As a result of that buy in, Discovery Benefits has seen tremendous results. Not only does its ECM system play a critical role in departments enterprise-wide, but executives also see its value.
“We use ECM as our central nervous system,” said John Biwer, president of Discovery Benefits. “It controls nearly every process we have in the company.
2. Consider the full functionality of ECM
Scan, store, retrieve. It’s what you often hear when discussing ECM solutions. However, as Johnson pointed out, there’s far more functionality available.
- Capturing important information into one system
- Managing data, documents and processes
- Providing instant access to everyone who needs it, wherever they are
- Integrating with your existing systems
- Giving visibility into your processes and system performance
- Securely storing, protecting and destroying your information
For Discovery Benefits, thinking about ECM in this framework has been helpful. Not only do you find additional use cases for the technology, but also the true breadth and depth you can create with a solution.
Take, for example, Discovery Benefit’s ECM solution for vendor management. As you read each category, think of your own department/process that you could improve with ECM by breaking it down into these six categories:
- Capture – Quotes, invoices, purchased items, experience with vendors
- Manage – Who has the quote? Did the item(s) arrive? Have we used this vendor before? Who approves it?
- Access – Accounting, internal security, accounts payable and accounts receivable
- Integrate – Security systems, phone system, internal application
- Measure – How much do we spend with a vendor per year? How were our experiences? Do we need a new vendor?
- Store – Keep everything for eight years with two copies on-site and one real-time office back-up
3. Think with an enterprise vision
It’s not just one department – or a few – that can benefit from an ECM system. It’s the entire organization. As Discovery Benefits realized, ECM can have a positive impact on the bottom line across all facets of the company.
“What we’ve learned is that everyone sits in their silos,” Johnson said. “Everyone has their silos – accounting, benefits, claims, IT, building management – everybody stays in their silos and they don’t try and think about how to work together successfully with everyone else. We have actually gone into each team and tried to dig that information out of them. We’ve tried to bring all of their systems into our ECM system and utilize the data so we can all share it.”
Doing so has yielded some powerful results.
In claims processing, a team of 28 people processed more than 1.7 million claims that paid out around $210 million in 2008. Fast forward to 2016, a team of 35 people processed over 5.7 million claims and paid out more than $653 million – all with four months left to go in the year.
“We took this team of 28 – if today they were doing what they were in 2008 there’d be 130 to 140 people – and our ECM system has allowed us to only need 35 people,” Johnson said. “The ROI on this group alone is huge. And that’s just using your existing system to build a process to make it easier for people to work.”
That is only one example of how Discovery Benefits uses ECM. The company leveraged the system in a variety of departments to further improve processes, including:
- Accounts payable processes
- Human resources
- Policy administration
- Health exchange
The benefits of change
Although change can be difficult to accept, it is a constant within growing organizations. As Johnson explained, implementing change – and demonstrating the greater good it provides – is a meaningful way to get staff onboard.
That’s the mission statement for his ECM team: “To stay vigilant in pursuing constant improvement that aligns our actions with the goals of Discovery Benefits. We proactively look for new processes to help the end users work more effectively and efficiently. We strive toward the success of Discovery Benefits.”