A Framework For Success
Information Management Consultants, Inc. (IMC) will grow to $50 million in gross sales by offering vertical market solutions. Learn how this document management and imaging integrator can deliver 70% of a complete solution before meeting with prospective customers.
There is really no such thing as an "out-of-the-box" enterprise document management and imaging solution. But, IMC is offering something very close. The company has developed a Business Solutions Framework™ (BSF) for each of its vertical markets by using what it has learned from previous installations. In the case of the Virginia bank, IMC used the BSF designed for that vertical market. "We can immediately show the bank our methodology, which documents our procedures. And, we can reference solutions that we have provided to similar customers. This will account for up to 70% of the solution we will eventually provide," says Shenoy. "Of course, this bank will do some things differently from other customers, which means the final solution will be unique to this customer. That uniqueness is the 30% that we add to the original framework."
Delivering document management and imaging solutions to vertical markets has led IMC to grow to $38 million in gross sales in 1998. And, the McLean, VA-based company is projecting that number to increase to $50 million in 1999. IMC was founded in 1981, and the success of its BSF approach is largely rooted in the company's almost two decades of experience in the document management and imaging industry.
Creating A Vertical Framework
While there is no substitute for experience, every integrator can learn from IMC and how it handles a project. With each vertical install, integrators can add to their own versions of a BSF. "The BSF represents the best-of-breed practices, tools, and applications that we have established through the years," relays Shenoy. Beyond a BSF, integrators must still account for the unique aspects of each solution they provide. This requires integrators to do what Shenoy refers to as "gap analysis." Providing this service and expertise is how integrators can increase their margins. "You need to have a clear vision of what the customer wants to accomplish. Project management becomes more difficult as a customer learns more about the technologies and what they offer," warns Shenoy.
Tapping Into A Customer's Vision
Recall the bank in Virginia that was thinking about implementing an enterprise document management system. The vice presidents and CIO turned to Shenoy for validation of their idea; he advised them to pull in the reigns for a while. "I told them to forget about technology and focus on their business," says Shenoy. "I asked them, ‘If technology were not a hurdle, what would you want to accomplish?' And, ‘How do you see yourself delivering services in five years?'"
Generally speaking, the bank wanted to offer better, and more proactive, customer service. Ultimately, this meant the bank needed to have a comprehensive, single view of each customer. This type of solution would eliminate many of the bank's problems. For example, bank customer John Doe has a $5 million real estate line of credit. However, it is very possible that he might be rejected for a $10,000 bank-issued credit card. "Employees in the credit card division had no idea what was happening in the real estate division," comments Shenoy.
The bank also revealed that it had 500 customer account managers throughout Virginia who handled commercial credit for companies. When account managers call on a customer, they want to have the customer's file before the meeting. "Currently, the bank was sending the files by fax or by FedEx to the account managers. It sometimes took three days to find the files, copy them, and send them out," says Shenoy. Invariably, account managers will make notes on the files after meeting with customers. These notes are rarely incorporated in the original documents stored at the bank headquarters. As a result, there are hundreds of "shadow" files that need to be controlled. This problem would have to be resolved in a new document management and imaging solution.
Moving Beyond The Original Objectives
By simply analyzing the business objectives of the bank, IMC realized that it had plenty of uniqueness to add to its original BSF for the bank. The bank wanted imaging, but it needed much more. "It wanted a single view of each customer. It wanted access to information from remote locations. It wanted to capture information from remote locations. And, it wanted a system that would be centrally administered," comments Shenoy. "A brief interview with the bank executives brought out some requirements that go way beyond imaging. Imaging is an important part, but you also have communication and remote-access issues."
As the bank's vision became more clear, it also became more complex. The infrastructure would have to be upgraded, and that would affect the entire bank. Special applications would have to be written for each department. For example, private bank customers should have access to their accounts, but commercial customers should not have the same access. Customer files would also have to be indexed consistently. Currently, divisions within the bank use different methods of indexing customer files.
"Before you can even think about implementing an enterprise document management system, you have to evaluate business processes and policies," states Shenoy. "This is the case with almost every customer. In most companies, employees are measured by their bottom-line performance. As long as a company is making money, many of the infrastructure issues are irrelevant."
Providing An Enterprise Solution
Integrators have to sell to customers of varied sizes and in many vertical markets. However, the steps required to provide an enterprise solution should be similar regardless of the customer.
Some companies grow through acquisition, and these companies have disparate systems that need to be unified. Other companies have divisions that seem to evolve on their own. In either case, integrators cannot provide solutions until they know their customers' visions.
"We bring a Business Solutions Framework to every prospective customer. This accounts for the first 70% of the final solution. The remaining 30% is where we add value. It is our expertise," says Shenoy.
The remaining 30% makes a customer's vision become reality.