What should you watch out for when purchasing a Document Management solution? 6. Low Price.

December 4th, 2008

This is a tough lesson to learn. We all want to get a good deal when we buy something. Unfortunately we have been brainwashed by @#$@Mart and many others to believe that the lowest price means we are getting the best deal.

What we are discovering is that lowest price now often means lowest quality AND value. think that is the result of becoming a “throw away” society. Things are so cheap, we expect them to break, but we don’t care because we can throw it away and buy a new one for less than we can repair what we have. That’s fine when you are talking about a toy or a $100 inkjet printer. It doesn’t usually work out so well when you can’t “throw” the item away. Bigger ticket items tend to be items we don’t just throw away. Would you just walk away from your house and buy a new one just because the toilet broke or the driveway got a crack in it? If you would, then you don’t really need to read further.

Low Purchase Price ≠ Best Value. When purchasing a technology solution, you have to look at more than just the purchase price. That is only the beginning. If you are going to utilize the application, especially a long term application such as a document management system, you have to look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) to find the best value. TCO includes the following at a minimum; Purchase Price, Annual Maintenance, Software Updates, Hardware updates, support personnel etc. By looking at the total cost of ownership you see the hidden costs that don’t show up in the purchase price. Remember, you can get a color printer for $99, but the replacement ink may cost you $60 per cartridge. If someone offered a printer for $1000 that never required ink, which would provide the best value? This depends on how much printing you do and how long you own the printer. Owning the no-ink printer for 5 years would cost you $1000 no matter how much you print. If you use 20 ink cartridges over the same 5 years, that costs you $1200 on top of the $99 purchase price. So, which one is the best value? Of course I have neglected some of the costs of ownership like the power required to run the printers and the time value of money, but you get the idea.

Determining the best value depends on your situation. With license based or on premise document management systems, you have to look at things like, how much time does it take to set up, how many servers do I need, how much storage and back up, how much people time to keep it running or to do updates and upgrades? When you factor all of these things into the equation, it becomes clear that the value is based on more than the initial purchase price. Make sure that you include all of the costs when comparing price, not just the initial purchase price.

Top Female Tech Leader Finalist for Tampa Bay CEO Award

October 22nd, 2008

Tampa, FL – (Oct. 22, 2008) Jana Wiggins, President & CEO of Document Advantage Corporation, (DocuVantage), has been named a finalist for the 2008 Tampa Bay CEO of the Year award in the Business Products & Services category. The finalists and winners will be celebrated by Tampa Bay CEO Magazine, the awards program host, at a gala dinner on December 11 at the Pepin Hospitality Center in Tampa.

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Join us at Tech Jam!

August 4th, 2008

DocuVantage is proud to sponsor Tampa Bay Tech Jam, a Summer Party with a Purpose. Tech Jam is organized by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum Foundation, in support of science and technology education initiatives for the “at risk” youth of Tampa Bay. Come help us support a great cause! For more info visit http://tampabaytechjam.com/

What should you watch out for when purchasing a Document Management solution? 5. Smoke and Mirrors.

July 8th, 2008

In my past life as a consultant preparing clients for acquisition and implementation of large scale Document Management Solutions, I witnessed some very interesting product demonstrations. Right after graduating from College, I worked for a BIG INTEGRATOR and was involved in a bid to the Air Force. It was a very large acquisition, over $1 Billion. The Air Force had a great concept, if you want me to buy your stuff, then you have to show it in action. They developed scenarios that would simulate what they needed in the field. It was up to the vendor to show that with their solution. “You mean it actually has to work! That’s not fair. Trust us that it will work.” During this particular demo, which took place over a full week, there was one task that we could not get to function automatically as required. Given a little more time, it would have worked; we just didn’t have it ready for the Live Test Demo (LTD). During the demo the presenter; we called her Gail Force Winds because she could direct the reviewers’ attention anywhere she wanted, had to get 6 evaluators to look away from the works station for just a few seconds so that the programmer/operator could enter a keystroke sequence to manually execute the task. Well, she did it and we passed the test. (Smoke and Mirrors refers to magic shows that use tricks to get you to pay attention to something else while they perform the “magic”.)

As I moved into consulting, I decided to take this LTD concept with me. I did make one minor change; the vendors had to install everything on the customer’s equipment instead of their own. Nothing could be pre-staged, especially since the demo requirements document was not delivered until the vendor arrived for the demo. Funny thing, the three vendors on the short list were in the correct quadrant, remember what I said about great sales and marketing. The trouble with the LTD was that it actually required the product to work. That’s not fair! Trust Us. The first market leader went home after the 3rd day. The allotted 10 days was just not going to be enough. Odd thing to happen to a vendor with an “out of the box” solution. The second vendor didn’t realize that the LTD spec. was an EXACT copy of the spec for a Pilot system that they had recently delivered to this very customer. They spent ten days rebuilding it from scratch with a team of programmers. At the end of day 9, they sent the programmers home. Oops! They forgot to get the programmers to install the code on the customer’s equipment. Day 10 was a short one. Vendor 3 worked around the clock for 2 weeks and got the demo to work, but during this time, we knew that the product was full of holes. The integrated suite was just a bunch of separate programs cobbled together in the same colored boxes. They had to jump through hoops to get it to work. No vendor met the minimum requirements. No purchase was made. Why would you purchase something that either does not work or doesn’t meet your requirements? The smoke and mirrors will not be available to you when you turn the solution loose on your end users. It will actually have to work.

Before buying a Document Management solution, take a very close look at it. If you insist on having an on-premise solution, then install it on your own equipment or see it working in a similar environment. Even when you realize that you should be implementing Software as a Service Electronic Document Solution, don’t just watch the flash video. See it in action and ask questions. More later on what qualifies as real Software as a Service (SaaS). No, this is not the same as ASP.

What should you watch out for when purchasing a Document Management solution? 4. Best of Breed

June 24th, 2008

This should be a good one. Are you buying a dog or a document management solution? I have heard many of the BIG INTEGRATORS and even some of the smaller ones talk about their solutions being made up of the “Best of Breed” components. As if that meant that the overall solution would be the best. If you mix a champion Great Dane with a champion Yorkie, is the result going to be a champion dog? Is it even going to be a dog? You just never know. What they are really saying is that they took a bunch of parts and painted them all the same color and called it an integrated system. It may work well for you, but you also may find that it is just too complex to keep running.

In most situations that I have seen, the customer does not really need the “Best”, they just need something that works and provides them a reasonable return on their investment. Since document management and workflow are typically complex solutions, how do you really define the best? Cheapest? Most expensive? Most sales? Prettiest brochures? Best booth bunnies? Best scanning? Best Workflow? There are so many ways to define the best that it does not really matter. What matters is whether or not it effectively and efficiently solves the problem. Anything beyond that is wasted money. Think about it like this, if you are buying a fleet of cars for your outside sales team, you’re not going to put them in a ‘73 Lime Green Pinto, it won’t do, but you are also not going to put them in a Bentley (Best of Breed), you are going to put them in a leased Ford Taurus, good enough.

The best approach is to define the problem you are trying to solve and then find the solution that you can afford that solves that problem. You will never use all of the bells and whistles that come with the best of breed. You are running a business, not a fashion show.

Big Sur Technologies and Document Advantage Corporation, (DocuVantage) Partner to Provide Document Management and Managed IT Services to Better Serve their Clients

June 19th, 2008

Tampa, Florida (June 18, 2008)

Two of Florida’s top technology firms announced their unique new partnering agreement today. Big Sur Technologies and Document Advantage Corporation, (DocuVantage) have joined forces to better serve their client base. Big Sur, a leading information technology outsourcing organization, will offer DocuVantage On Demand® to their more than 350 customers throughout Florida.

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What should you watch out for when purchasing a Document Management solution? 3. BIG INTEGRATORS

June 18th, 2008

Many people believe that the BIG INTEGRATORS are the best at implementing solutions because they have done them before. It seems logical, if you have done something before you will be better at it. What is often ignored is the fact that companies don’t implement solutions, employees do. With turnover rates averaging 25% or more, what are the odds that the team that implemented the last project is still at the company?

What about all of those senior people that they have on staff just waiting to implement your project? Well, they aren’t waiting for your project and there aren’t that many of them. Those people need to bill out at $250 to $300 per hour to cover their costs. It’s much more cost effective to have just a few of those senior people around mentoring the junior people. Guess who is working on your project! I have heard some customers even comment that when management selects one of those BIG INTEGRATORS for a project, they see the school buses in the parking lot dropping off the “Consultants” to tell them how to do their jobs. The teams are full of very smart people, they just typically don’t have the experience. Once they have gained the experience, they get moved into management to make room for more junior people that cost less. Small companies tend to have more senior people doing the jobs they love. Since they typically pay less than the BIG companies, the people have to love what they are doing or they wouldn’t stay.

BIG INTEGRATORS can deliver the BIG teams needed for Enterprise implementations. Yes, they can deliver big teams. Many times the team will consist of their sub contractors. Guess who the sub contractors are… you are exactly right, small companies that specialize in delivering a document management solution. Is it really a good idea to implement the entire enterprise all at once? It depends on the problem you are solving, but not usually. Most companies should start small and build on successes. Why sink $1M or more into a into a traditional, enterprise, license-based project before determining if it’s going to work?

What should you watch out for when purchasing a Document Management solution? 2. Market Leaders

June 10th, 2008

What does that mean? The one that sells the most? Usually. At least, that is according to some of the subjects of my last post. @#$@Mart probably sells the most bicycles in the US so they would be considered the Market Leader. Since we want our Olympic Cycling team to ride the best, they should probably get their bikes at @#$@Mart, right? Of course that’s silly. Selling the most does not necessarily mean it is the best. When you buy a document management solution, do you want the one that sells the most or the one that is the best fit for you? I vote for the one that is the best fit for you.

I have heard people argue that since they sell the most, they must be the best solution. I think this is partially true. They probably have the best sales and marketing team. It says very little about the quality of the product or how well it will suit you. Which was the better technology BetaMax or VHS? Yes, I know, a bunch of you never heard of BetaMax. Who won? Which is better now, HD DVD or Blu-ray? Mac or PC?

Don’t ignore the Market Leaders; just don’t make that a decision point. Make your decision based on what you need and what you can afford.