Reducing The Sales Cycle For Document Management System Software
Packaging document management system software (DMSS) with other technologies reduces DMSS' traditionally long sales cycle.
Business Solutions, January 1998
DMSS uses computer technology to help businesses more efficiently store and retrieve records. DMSS was introduced long before anyone heard of the Internet, and is arguably a more effective business tool. Yet, if you asked 100 people on the street what DMSS is, and what the Internet is.... well, you can fill in your own results.
Irving Levy, president of I. Levy & Associates, Inc. (St. Louis, MO), a DMSS developer, says this lack of awareness of DMSS, slows down its sales cycle. "Top management's lack of understanding of DMSS means that budget money will always be earmarked for another project ahead of a document management system," says Levy. "In a manufacturing business, that project could be the upgrading of heavy machinery."
Levy says a typical computer document management system's sales cycle is 18-24 months. "That can be shortened if the system solves a specific problem," he adds. "For example, a business is receiving complaints because its customer service reps are unable to find correct documentation when customers call in for service. Eliminating these complaints through a document management system would be solving a specific problem."
Partnering With Integrators Of Business-Specific Software Can Provide Leads For Document Management Sales
DMSS VARs and integrators can also shorten computer document management system sales cycles by packaging their products with technology with which businesses are more familiar. These technologies include software for tasks such as accounting, manufacturing-process and engineering software; as well as the Internet.
"Every business has an accounts payable (AP) department," says Levy. "The AP department typically keeps its records on an AP software program. The data for that program is taken from documents which then have to be filed. DMSS can assist in this filing. A DMSS integrator who can forge a successful partnership with an AP software integrator, is not only gaining entry into a broader market, he is also increasing the size of his sales force without having to hire anyone."
Mike Keffer, senior accounts manager for Cimmetry Systems agrees. Cimmetry is a 35-employee developer of electronic document image viewing and editing software. Based in Quebec, Cimmetry has a satellite office in Cambridge, MA.
"Traditionally Cimmetry's software has been sold to users of CADCAM (computer-aided design/computer aided manufacturing) software," says Keffer. "Our software enables users to annotate, make marks on and perform other viewing and editing functions to images of engineering-type drawings. These images are typically either created in CADCAM or converted from paper through scanning."
Cimmetry's software has recently been integrated with a number of DMSS programs. "Our resellers have been selling our software as an addition to CAD. Now they can offer DMSS to their clients as another addition."
Internet Knowledge Is A Must For Integrators
While packaging DMSS with applications such as CAD is an option integrators can consider to increase profits, packaging DMSS with Internet capabilities is something integrators must do to survive, agree Levy and Keffer. "Everybody is asking about making their documents available over the Internet. For example, some local and state governments want to make records accessible to residents over the Internet," says Levy. "As is the case with a lot of Internet business applications, a major concern is that once you make tax records available over the Internet, how do you restrict access to only authorized users? Integrators who become familiar with the available firewall and security programs can answer these questions."
In direct contrast is the problem integrators face creating user-friendly interfaces to documents stored on the Internet, so the documents can be accessed by diverse user groups such as the residents of a county. "Integrators may find themselves having to add a graphic artist to their staff to help them design computer document management systems with graphics and animation that invite users to look up documents," says Levy. "This takes a different talent than the technical skill usually associated with DMSS installations."
Thin Clients Are In
Technical skills are still needed when integrators are helping end users decide on the most cost-effective design for a document management system running over the Internet. "There are some new, aggressively priced DMSS programs available that are designed to run exclusively over the Internet," says Keffer. "They are mostly designed to be accessed through thin clients."
Thin clients are PCs that do not run software programs. The programs are run on a server and the results are downloaded to the thin client. "Often, end users only require the functionality that a thin client offers. An integrator who is familiar with thin clients and DMSS that can operate on them can offer end users more cost-effective document management systems."