Archive for 'Uncategorized'

Aug
2013

BPM sustains because- it is a journey and not a destination

Fascinating mail from Microsoft CEO was sent to all the employees, which conveyed the message very loudly, that evolution was the past as well as the future of Microsoft. The vision of Microsoft- they have changed the world and they will continue doing so. This is the true vision of the IT software – be the change and bring the change. It’s a vision which is difficult to be transformed into a roadmap and yet more difficult to follow.

But only this holds the key to the success and sustainability of IT software. There are not many IT traits today which have survived and evolved through ages. More often than not, a new technology overrides the older one and makes it sink into oblivion.

Business Process Management (BPM) is one of the few IT traits today which has its roots back in 80’s. And, still it’s growing, evolving and spreading. There must have been something significant, something extra-ordinarily different from the other technology tools. BPM must have done something very right that the others couldn’t. If we start thinking and unraveling the mystery, the first thing we would think of is- innovations that happened around BPM in decades. No one can deny that R&D is a key contributor for the long existence of BPM. However, innovation alone will fail to answer our question. There are examples of IT tools and traits which were innovative and disruptive in the market but became obsolete in time. For example: pager replaced by mobile, Orkut by Facebook, Symbian by Android, etc. So, other than innovations, BPM must have done something very right over the ages. Let’s try to find out what that could be.

Thinking of fundamentals of BPM, the key reason for BPM’s success is – illustrating a vision along with a roadmap even before the implementation kicks off. All successful BPM vendors throughout the world would certainly agree that the success of a BPM program in any organization, depends a lot on what the organization thinks of BPM. Organizations, interested in adopting a BPM tool may or may not be aware of the full capability of a BPM tool. In organizations, the need of a BPM tool usually comes for the automation of a single process or to address the business specific needs of a particular department. This is a beginning of something new but it starts with a narrow vision. If the organization starts BPM adoption with this vision in mind, they are restricting themselves with limited BPM capabilities and the project will soon come to a hopeless end. So the proper planning for BPM adoption is very crucial. For so many years, BPM vendors have been doing exceptionally well in taking a lead role in the planning phase of BPM adoption. Successful BPM vendors ensure the following things prior to embarking upon the BPM implementation phase:

a) BPM should be a CXO initiative: To involve the CXOs in a BPM initiative is a must. It should be kept in mind that the true benefit of a BPM solution can be realized only when it is adopted organization-wide and not just in few departments. That means, eventually in the future, all the departments of the organization will have to use BPM tool. If the BPM initiative is not on the CXO’s agenda, it is almost impossible to implement it organization-wide. So, BPM vendors always involve CXO-level people in discussion from the very beginning even though it may be a small initiative from a particular department.

b) Present the Roadmap to the CXOs: Long term vision is something the CXOs crave for and hardly misses their eyes. So, the BPM vendors create the BPM adoption roadmap and share it with the CXOs. The roadmap typically captures all the milestones of BPM adoption and how much time it takes to reach those milestones. The roadmap further clarifies what kind of BPM benefits, the CXO can expect in different BPM maturity levels along the curve, and in how much time it will be realized. The procedure to measure the tangible benefits and how to comprehend the intangible benefits also becomes a part of an elaborate roadmap. If the CXO has multiple business objectives in mind, prioritization of those is also very important in this exercise. Because, based on the objective priority, the BPM implementation roadmap will be defined. In other words, the CXO must know what he is going to get and in how much time from the BPM initiative. For so many decades, BPM successfully projected and achieved the CXO level objectives, and this is undoubtedly one of the key reasons for BPM’s glorious existence today and in the future. The expectations and the business benefits of a BPM initiative have changed over the years and for that reason, BPM also evolved itself in innovations through decades. But the important thing for BPM has always been how to fit in the CXOs vision of his organization’s future.

c) BPM gives benefits to all: The users of As-Is business have to agree and appreciate that the advent of BPM in organizations, is not a threat but an opportunity for all to improve and perform better. Now, conveying this message to the future BPM users, is as important as involving CXOs in the BPM project. It is very common in users to be reluctant to changes and more particularly when the changes come with a looming threat of headcount reduction and being monitored all the time by business stakeholders. In other words, bringing automation means, all the users are susceptible to job insecurity and losing control of their daily operations. And this tends to lead them to reject the BPM project. For so many years, BPM vendors have successfully preached all level of users- how BPM will help in their day-to-day activities, make them more effective and probably help them get a promotion. And most importantly, BPM vendors have convinced the users that- the automation brought by BPM only ensures restructuring of the organization by changing user assignments in different roles and certainly not by reducing headcounts. A typical example could be, re-assigning more users in customer facing roles rather than in back office for improved customer delight.

d) Defining the BPM maturity level benefits: BPM in different maturity levels exhibits different kinds of benefits. In generic, organizations are made aware that they will observe the following benefits in different maturity levels.

Level 1- Cost optimization and operational excellence: This is the basic benefit, an organization observes immediately after start using the BPM solution.
Level 2- Adherence Regulatory Compliance mandates
Level 3- Monitoring and continuous improvements: A CoE can be formulated at this level which takes care of new process roll-outs and improvement of existing processes
Level 4- Aligning organization strategy with BPM: This is the phase when the CXOs start tuning the organization-wide BPM architecture to achieve the highest priority business objective. This is the time for CXOs to look back at the BPM roadmaps and how the business objectives were prioritized earlier in the planning phase. For an example, a bank’s top priority business objective could be- improved customer delight and satisfaction for competitive edge, in other words customer centricity is the highest priority.

At this level, BPM must ensure that all the customer facing bank processes like – New customer on-boarding and KYC, Customer Request Management, Customer Correspondence Management, Loan Request and processing, etc. are leading to customer delight. These processes are effectively helping in getting new customers, retaining old customers, and cross-selling & up-selling products, to the right customers. Revenue generation using BPM solution is possible when the business strategy gets successfully aligned with BPM.

After this level, there comes the enhancements, modifications and the need to assimilate evolving market trends like cloud, mobility, social media, etc. For example, a bank might have successfully automated its Customer Request Management process earlier, and now needs to integrate the same process with social media for even better customer delight and service management.

So, we can say that, the reason behind BPM’s long sustainability is the philosophy it brings in any organization with its adoption. An organization adopts BPM with at least 7-10 years of vision in mind and slowly BPM becomes the backbone of their IT infrastructure. Then, it can’t be replaced, but only improved, as all the mission critical business processes are running on BPM. And, this is why, for an organization, the journey with BPM will not end, because there is no final destination, there is only moving from one business objective to another. BPM is a journey. Sit back, hold tight, and enjoy it.

Bio: Sandipan Chakraborty is part of the Marketing Team at Newgen.

Jun
2013

Customers have Options, Banks don’t…

Today, customers not only want anytime-anywhere access to their account details, but also the power to manage accounts, check status updates, and even chat live with a customer service representative 24/7. If you can’t satisfy your customers’ requirements, someone else will.

With expansion plans of leading banks, government’s focus on financial inclusion, and the entry of foreign banks, competition in the banking landscape is getting stiffer each day. Driven by the preferences of their tech-savvy customers, banks are investing significant time and money in exploring newer technologies that can help them exceed their customers’ expectations. Banks are looking at innovative technologies such as mobility, cloud, and virtualization to drive differentiation. Going by a recent industry research, published by analyst firm Ovum, IT spending by banks globally will reach $118.6 billion in 2013.

In today’s scenario, where real-time customer service has become a norm, mobility has become a strategic imperative for banks to remain competitive and retain their customers, by proving convenient, simple, and secure banking services. Mobility offers an opportunity for banks to offer convenient self-service tools to their customers. It gives customers the freedom to securely access their personal accounts, process transactions, or make payments – all using their mobile devices. When it comes to retaining customers, there is no room for delay – your bank is either on mobile or off the market.

Bio: Garima is Manager - Marketing & Communications at Newgen Software.

Apr
2013

Choose digital…..move towards better customer experience!

Due to the dominance of the Internet and advanced technologies like Tablets and Smart Phones, processing speeds have considerably changed the speed of communication in the world today.

The printing industry is in the middle of a rapid transformation where technology is empowering the growth in the number of online media channels that consumers are driven to engage with. Consumer Behaviors are changing the role of media and communication in civil society, and these preferences are forcing businesses to rethink the way they interact with customers and prospects.

The effectiveness and efficiency of the print media is at stake. Print channels are perceived as just one of many media channels that consumers are accessing; the value and role of print is changing.  Organizations have begun labeling ‘Printing’ as just another cost activity associated with customer service. They have started moving to digital channels and optimizing their costs. They foresee digital channels as providing better value and experience to their customers.

Interactive Communication is the next buzzword being talked about and desired by organizations. Organizations can send customized & personalized Interactive communications with drill down capabilities, page navigations and sorting. Technology has enabled organizations to send emails with voice and video. Customers can be driven to a website by QR codes in personalized messages that point to product promotions and special customized offers. Systems can track customer behaviors and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly. Efficiency of the marketing campaigns can easily be monitored by tracking customers who are driven to a promotion of their interest. Online web-to-print portals are being deployed to help optimize the marketing supply chain. By doing this, organizations are transforming their cost activity into a revenue generation activity.  This is also helping them in attaining their CSR goals of reducing Carbon Footprints – “Going Green”. A leading Analyst firm’s research has found that while the market for offset printing has remained flat, e-enabled digital communications & advertisement have been increasing.

To keep pace with the dynamic changes in this market, organizations need a comprehensive customer communication management solution. Newgen’s CCM solution is ideally suited to the current needs of customers, and easily adaptable to changes in future requirements.  It is an integrated platform that supports both print and digital media channels. The idea is to help organizations better deliver customer experiences over multi-channel communication modes.

Jul
2012

How safe is the cloud for storing regulated content?

I posted a question (view the question on LinkedIn) regarding the safety of the ‘Cloud’ on LinkedIn and received some really helpful and interesting answers from experts in the area of ‘Cloud Computing’. This post features the question along with few of the most interesting answers received.

Question: With all the security measures in place (as Cloud advocates boast), how safe is the cloud for storing regulated content?

Answer by Iain Mars (view LinkedIn profile) : With data being accessible online, there’s always going to be a concern with how secure the data is but you could ask the same question with how secure is online banking? As long as you take the necessary precautions with your cloud storage or back up, you shouldn’t have any reason to be concerned about security.

Answer by Francesco Morini (view LinkedIn profile): As an entity outsourcing storage of “regulated” data, it is hard to understand how a cloud storage service provider (let’s abbreviate it to SP – after all, they must still be considered as traditional service providers) will protect the data being handed over to them.

From personal experience, I’m pretty sure that any SP will be happy to provide its potential customers with tons of paperwork describing the entirety of features and process implemented for ensuring their content’s security – the issue lies behind considering what they say trustworthy.

It was hard enough to verify security for traditional third party data storage services – the Cloud multiplies such complexities at an exponential rate!

Having said this, the cloud may be both as secure and insecure as any other storage option – either internal or outsourced. It all boils down to how it is managed.

Many regulatory standards allow outsourced storage of regulated data, providing that the SPs be selected using pondered and logical approaches.

In addition to this, it is advisable (and in some cases mandatory) that the company outsourcing data storage set forth the “rules of engagement” – meaning to define Service Level Agreements which specifically require the use of specific security processes and controls.
Whilst this does not automatically ensure the data’s protection, it does force the SP to do its best in delivering effective security.

Again, it is advisable (and in some cases mandatory) that SP processes and operations be periodically verified (or audited) by their clients to ensure that the service level agreements are being truly respected – due diligence and continuous monitoring of the SP’s performance is crucial in ensuring
the data’s protection

Answer by Vincent Maiello (view LinkedIn profile):The jury is still out on storing regulated content in the public cloud, although private cloud usage is on the rise. The key is to appropriately classify your data and develop a strategic storage plan that aligns perfectly with the business requirements and use cases along with the catalog of services offered by an IT department. Going to the cloud, particularly with regulated content, should be a highly managed transformational activity that takes this all into account. Many organizations are going to the cloud without a plan, which is a big mistake.

Bio: Garima is Manager - Marketing & Communications at Newgen Software.

May
2012

ICD-10 Transition is just a Decision Away…

Healthcare is an industry characterized by a labyrinth of compliance mandates. Participants within the industry are subject to a multitude of regulations and must ensure compliance with all relevant regulations – state or federal, to avoid potential penalties. However, among all the compliance requirements, transition to ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Version 10) is the current topmost concern for healthcare organizations. The transition-involving a massive restructuring of the United State’s medical coding system, has put immense pressure on payer as well as provider organizations to make enormous cost and time investments  to completely overhaul their business processes.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) recently announced decision to delay the ICD-10 implementation deadline (from Oct. 1, 2013 to Oct. 1, 2014), brought some temporary relief to the panic-stricken healthcare industry. Nonetheless, the challenge still remains for healthcare organizations to integrate ICD-10 into their business strategy.

For health plans, ICD-10 calls for a basal shift in their IT and business strategy. Some payers gauge ICD-10 as simply an IT systems upgrade. Such organizations might find themselves overwhelmed by the depth of impact that this new set of codes might have. Others look at ICD-10 as a huge financial burden and are seeking ways to leverage their existing IT and business framework, to lessen this burden. As they say, there’s always a positive side to everything, so is there to ICD-10. Taking into account the business value that ICD-10 would bring to payers in the form of more accurate payments, fewer rejected claims, reduced fraudulent claims, improved member satisfaction, etc., it can certainly be looked at as a potential differentiator for early adopters.  An efficient Business Process Management (BPM) platform can catalyze ICD-10 transition, while reducing operational and implementation costs. As a continuous process improvement platform, BPM can prepare health plans to to align people, processes and systems to ensure a smooth conversion. So… isn’t ICD-10 just a decision away?

Bio: Garima is Manager - Marketing & Communications at Newgen Software.

Apr
2012

The Growing Significance of Intellectual Property Ownership for Developing Countries

Management of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) has assumed an increasingly important role in deciding the technological prospects of a developing country like ours.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) has laid down certain minimum standards for protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, requiring member countries to practice effective and adequate protection of intellectual property rights with a view to promoting fair international trade. However, it is the discretion of the member country to decide how to implement the provisions of the agreement within its own legal framework and practice.

IPR exploitation and IPR protection are crucial factors that have a direct impact on how well a country performs in a new economic environment. Moreover, technological self-reliance is of utmost importance to a developing country like India- seeking to harness technology for economic growth and development. Ownership of intellectual property also helps check free-riding on intellectual assets and provides innovators with an incentive to engage in inventive activities.  India has realized this fact, and has therefore taken all the necessary measures to ensure a strong IPR regime. The country has made significant investments on the legislative as well as legal and institutional aspects towards meeting this end.

Newgen understands the importance of IPR protection, and this is evident from the fact that the Indian Patents Office, in its annual report for 2009-2010, has listed the company as one the top 5 Indian applicants for patents in the field of Information Technology. Further, the company has filed patents wherever applicable and secured IPR for other innovations, through Copyrights and Trademarks for its products.

Bio: Garima is Manager - Marketing & Communications at Newgen Software.

Jan
2012

VIM – A Healthy Capacity for a Vigorous Activity

The exertion of managing a large team is the same in principle as the exertion of managing a few fellows: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers. Working with a large team of professionals under your leadership is nowise different from working with a small one (irrespective of the competency level of the professionals involved) – it is merely a question of inducting signs and signals. These signals if not reflected with the phenomenon of ‘Total Internal Reflection’, can lead to wasted efforts.

In order to make sure your team withstands every thrust of the compelling situations and stands tall, using direct and indirect modes will be a good option. In management – direct methods may be used to join in the heat; indirect methods will be required to seal success. These indirect methods start from establishing relationships, giving favors etc. and conclude by using them in the ‘project situations’. This kind of relationship, concluded on a mutual complementary yet professional hold, survives long and leaves behind trust elements.

“Indirect methods, efficiently applied are as inexhaustible as `Avogadro’s number`, unending as molecules in the air, they end but to start afresh like every season – it passes away but to return once again.”

There are in total 8 musical notes, yet the combinations of these notes give rise to a great resonance. There are only 7 colors constituting VIBGYOR, yet in combination they blossom unseen shades — yet the combination has produced world’s best discoveries and innovations. Thus, in management the combinations of these direct and indirect methods give rise to endless series of maneuvers. The direct and indirect lead to each other in turn till the task is accomplished. The possibilities of their combinations are inexhaustible in context to the success of the task. It preaches the phenomenon of “At least one door is open all the times”.

Simulated confusion postulates perfect concepts, simulated fear of being unable to complete a task postulates courage to take it on and simulated need/requirement postulates relationships.

Hiding a concept beneath the mask of confusion is simply a question of subdivision; theories increase in entropy and masking relationships with need is to be effected by tactical characters. The efficient manager looks to the effect of combined energy and does not demand too much from individuals. He takes every individual in account and uses each individual according to his abilities without the need of unnecessary pressures. He does not demand perfection from the untalented, rather gears him up. He understands the importance of keeping ‘DORKS’ in the team and use them as baits for indirect situations. He must not lose anybody. When he utilizes the mix of these combined energies, his team becomes as it were a river flowing down the mountains.

 It reminds me of using Newton’s First Law for managing a Team:

Your team will continue to remain in the state of not producing results or state of producing not so impactful outcomes, unless acted upon by a motivating maneuvering force.  For it, is the Nature.

Thus the power of the energy developed by a good fighter team is as the “p=mv” (momentum) of a flowing river through the mountains. So much on the subject of energy – “VIM”…

Name: Sumit Sahdev

Email:

Bio: Sumit is Associate Manager-Products & Solutions at Newgen Software. He has over 5 years of experience in consultancy and driving achievements of delivering projects related to Banking and Financial Services vertical with expertise in Retail & Corporate banking, Derivatives and CRM domains.

Nov
2011

Prototyping Model- A Newgen Discriminator for Faster BPM Solution Implementation

Creating software from business requirements or walking on the water is very easy if both are frozen. No doubt one of the major challenges software companies face is to manage change during the coding phase. A good number of linear and iterative software development model concepts are available in the market. Even though these orthodox Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) models have good success rates of providing satisfactory software solutions, most of them fail to provide the solution in time.

More often than not, this happens because of the unforeseen changes or the new requirements which were not included in the requirement documents.  Also, this kind of change requests make the entire project susceptible to potential risks as the partially built software may decline the newly suggested changes which are technically infeasible.

Unlike any other software, a BPM software solution always expects to have a lot of change requests during the coding phase. In fact, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the change requests during the implementation phase, best capture all the non-functional requirements for any BPM solution.  A BPM solution never works in silos and on the contrary it gets all the individual business systems together on a single platform so that they can work collaboratively. Extensive integrations, rich GUI, user-friendly look and feel, adherence to branding guidelines on the screen (fonts, logos etc.) are some of the requirements which usually come up during the implementation phase. Now this is a challenge for all the BPM vendors and implementers to welcome all those changes and incorporate them in the solution without extending the project delivery time.

All the top notch BPM tools, available in the market are already over saturated with functionalities and features.

So, the discriminating factor between any two leading BPM vendors is not the BPM tool kit any more but their capability to implement the BPM solution in lesser time by addressing all the last minute changes.

All the BPM vendors use their own techniques and procedures for implementation. Newgen Software is not an exception. We have started using the Prototyping model for the BPM solution development which is by the way the most praised and the least followed method across the globe. Prototyping is highly praised because it ensures faster project delivery than any other methods and is least followed because it demands incorporating the continuously evolving solution requirements while developing the solution. The solution developed with available requirements is shown to the client for feedback. The client usually gets an early idea of how the solution will look like in real. Client feedback forms the basis for the requirements for the second version of the solution.  After a number of iterations between the client and the development team, the solution becomes ready to be deployed. However, the process is not as easy as it sounds. It requires extensive domain knowledge of developing same kind of business solutions which bring the efforts to perfection in quick time.

Newgen has its ingenious methods and approaches for the prototyping model. Very recently, we have used this technique successfully for a leading European bank. We have fully automated 7 processes in 18 months and the solution has been deployed across 3 countries with 3 separate document management system implementation. So, the Newgen’s Prototyping model speaks for itself. Below is a generic overview of the model:

By using the Prototyping model, allows Newgen to design and release the 1st level of BPM solution without doing any custom coding. The entire deployment is completed in 3 levels.

Level 1- In the first level, the processes are designed as per the Function Specification Diagram (FSD) prepared for the project. Designing process does not include any kind of coding and is built upon the core functionality available within the product. Level -1 includes the following tasks:

  • Process Route Designing
  • Electronic Form Designing
  • Configuring e-mail triggers & Exception Management
  • Document digitization and document type creation for viewing or modifying
  • Folder structure creation for document upload
  • Secured document archival in the folders etc.

First level usually takes 2 weeks time to implement the solution.

Level 2- In the second level, the validation check is provided. Level -2 includes the following tasks:

  • Form Field Validation
  • Data Verification
  • Process Flow Validation

The 2nd level usually takes 2-4 weeks of time

Level 3- In the last level, all the integrations with external business systems are done. Depending upon the complexity, the last level takes 3-5 weeks of time.

The level-1 implementation is done by using the extensive domain knowledge that Newgen has on different verticals like Banking, Insurances, Financial Institutions, BPOs, SSCs, Telecom, and Government with the wide range of features available in the BPM suite. So, as soon as the level-1 implementation is over, it can be moved to the production site and the client can start using the BPM solution instantly. That happened with the European bank. The users’ feedback on the level-1 system was used to make improvements for the 2nd level. This innovative implementation approach results into the following benefits:

  1. No of iterations for change request were reduced for the solution implementation and hence faster implementation of solution is possible
  2. Less effort was required in reviewing the process which means better man power utilization
  3. Process users get to know the process in the early stage and give their feedback for improvements, which means faster acceptability of the process and the solution gets user preferred  look & feel very quickly
  4. Minimal process downtime as the process is good enough to run in the production site at Level-1

Bio: Sandipan Chakraborty is part of the Marketing Team at Newgen.

Nov
2011

Mauritius – My first official visit

Today is November 18, 2011. I am there in Mauritius meeting partners and potential customers of Newgen. Mauritius with a population of 1.2 million people, is a 80 million US Dollar market growing at less then 9% per annum from IT perspective. Next year around 18 million USD will be spent by the government on IT. Around 70% of the IT buying in the country is for buying of hardware.

With 52% of the population as Hindu Population having their roots in India, there are lots of them who speak Hindi. French seems to be more popular then English in the day to day interaction of the people. French newspapers are more commonly found. Even though it is a popular tourist destination, I some how did not get much impressed by that. People are soft spoken, have driving sense, start their day early. Most offices start by 8 AM in the morning. The streets are deserted by 6 PM. You need to know the joints to go or else it might be quite a boring place to be around.

What impressed me the most was a beer bar in Port Louis where more then 100 types of beer were available. Most of them imported from different parts of the world. Our Kingfisher was also there in the list. More then 30 types of tea were served. The collection was simply too good.

Bagatelle is the new joint coming up in Mauritius. You have a shopping mall, a wonderful eating joint with all kinds of food available in different restaurants which have come up in that area. Indian food is also available along with the Thai, Chinese and Italian Pizza’s of the world. More development is happening. The Hindi songs and the compering in Hindi on FM can make you forget at times that you are in a foreign land. So if you ever come to Mauritius do not forget to negotiate the rate with the taxi driver, every time you hop in.

The Eurozone slowdown is effecting the country. Mauritius is dependent on export revenue from Europe. They also make lot of money from tourists. The inflow of tourists from Europe has reduced due to the slowdown and all this is effecting the country. By the way nine government offices do have successful installation of OmniDocs and OmniScan.

Bio: Manojit Majumdar is Vice President Channel Sales at Newgen Software Technologies Limited. Has spent 25 years in IT industry. Was working as Country Manager - Small Deals - Software in IBM, before joining Newgen. In his first stint in Newgen in the year 1999-2000 he was operating out of East Coast , USA.

Nov
2011

Microfilm or Digitization: Simplified View

To select between Microfilming and Digitization is a tough call and holding the decision for too long certainly impacts business motives. Although there are different views for both technologies, here I will try to highlight the differences between the scope of the two technologies, to enable you to understand these technologies better and select the appropriate one.

Definitions:
Microfilming:
A film on which materials are photographed at greatly reduced size; useful for storage; a magnification system is used to read the material.
Digitization: The process for translating photographs/documents into a digital form that can be recognized by a computer.

As there is a huge difference between the costs incurred and the process adopted for each of the two technologies, explaining each one separately will result in huge documentation, so I will limit this post to the decision making points for selection of appropriate technology as mentioned below:

(a) The first and foremost step is to find out the retention schedule of the document
(b) Second is to find how frequently these documents would need to be accessed

Answers to the above mentioned points and below mentioned guidelines will help you decide the appropriate technology to go for.

Technology Selection Criteria:
(a) If retention is permanent and access is frequent then we suggest Microfilm and Digitization both. As Microfilming will help to archive the document permanently, and damage due to frequent access of the microfilms rolls can be avoided by digitization.
(b) If Retention is permanent and access is rare then we suggest Microfilming as it is a one time process. (this case is rare)
(c) If retention is temporary and access is frequent then Digitization
(d) If retention is temporary and access is rare then Digitization

In today’s scenario many of us may always recommend Digitization and may challenge Microfilming because of following justification:
 
(1) Cost of microfilming is always higher than scanning as scanners are available for as low as $50 and scanning cost is almost nil, whereas microfilm scanner is much costlier than document scanner,  the cost of rolls and processing also adds up to the total cost for every document microfilmed.
(2) Even if documents are classified as Permanent and there is no access, then also we can scan and store it on offline media just like microfilm rolls.
(3) There are formats available such as PDF/A which take care of long term archival and migration of scanned images.
(4) At any time scanned images can be converted to Microfilm easily by Microfilm writer if required.

I also believe that the above mentioned points are valid but the only challenge is the life of media used for digitization which is constantly changing- like today how many of us have floppy drives and zip drives in our PC? Moreover specific software is also required for viewing these images, whereas microfilms are eye readable and can be magnified using light source & lens and the LE rating of microfilm is 500 years.

In spite of the technical challenge mentioned above, I prefer digitization over microfilming, as now a days storage media are cheap (w.r.t number of images it can save), and transferring data from one media to another is also not a challenge. We should also understand that in today’s fast moving business scenario, access of digitized document is more important than simply archiving it. As the information which is not easily accessible is of no use.

Name: Hemant

Web Site: http://www.newgensoft.com

Bio: Hemant is Senior Manager - Processing Services with Newgen Software Technologies Limited

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