Office Document Strategies Blog

5 Business Process Challenges That Could Have Been Avoided

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

One of the frustrations we experience is when we see clients doing things that could have been avoided with a little consultation in advance and with some pre planning.  Since our role is helping clients to avoid issues with their critical business documents, when we see them facing problems we know could have been solved with some simple and early action, it is frustrating.Great idea for business process improvement

Here's five cases where a little upfront effort could have changed experiences.

  • Waiting too long to find a solution to a software failure 

This client had a functioning document management system but the company that sold it to them stopped supporting the software.  Instead of  starting to look for a replacement product right away they delayed until the software data base became corrupted and the software wouldn't run.  When they called us in to provide a replacement solution, which we eventually did using SentryFile DMS, we were unable to see the old solution operate.  They had accumulated over three months of paper files in boxes all over the office.  Users were obviously frustrated.  In the end our data base analyst was able to sort through the data, we were able to figure out a suitable index structure and an electronic migration of the old system records to the new SentryFile SQL data structure was accomplished.  If the change had been made sooner it would have been easier on the client and for us to ensure that they got what they needed with less frustration, in a timely manner and at a lower cost.
  • No network and data backup. 

A client implemented a protocol for network backup using a manual system requiring their receptionist to burn data files to a DVD each day. The receptionist (who was not very IT comfortable) followed the instructions to do so but inadvertently was backing up each day's data over top of the previous day's material. When this was discovered several months had gone on with this procedure being routinely followed. Luckily there was no system failure during this time since the procedure would have resulted in the potential for there to be incorrect data or no data available.  With the provision of low cost data backup software set to run automatically and a change in the procedure an impending disaster was avoided.
  • Paper record keeping. 

Many organizations keep their paper records in basements, warehouses, on mezzanines and other out of the way places.  We have seen critical quality control records stored in a warehouse where barrels of liquid chemicals were placed on the other side of a wire screen.  Basements often flood and records stored in them become impossible to recover.  One client had so many records stored on a mezzanine that the floors were starting to deflect.  Luckily an engineer noticed and warned the client to remove some of them before a failure occurred.  People were working in the area and on the mezzanine as well.  Moving to an electronic document record system removed the threat permanently.
  • Server hard drive failure. 

Network server failures are one of the things that many small businesses fear the most. Tools are installed on the network to ensure data loss and backups are controlled and done.  Backup copies are removed from the building daily and everything is ready for recovery.  Except the one thing that often is forgotten is hard drive failure.  Even with RAID systems and other pieces in place the most vulnerable components in servers are always the drives.  Unfortunately hard drive technology is always changing.  Sizes change, speeds change and the drive models quickly go out of date.  What happens when your two year old server has a drive failure and it takes days or even weeks to locate a compatible replacement.  Easily avoided with the purchase of a couple of spare drives at the time the server is installed.
  • Is backup enough for your business?   
A client had thought through their IT failure protocols and determined that if they had a failure which impacted their email for up to two days they could handle this as a recovery time standard.  Naturally, inspite of all of their precautions the inevitable failure occured and they took about a day and a half to recover.  The result of the real life experience?  They found out they needed to change their targets as being without email for anything over half a day was critical and could lead to serious and perhaps permanent damage.  They have invested in a true business continuity system with automatic backups, redundancy and cloud based virtual technologies so they could recover from failures much faster.

Early consultation can help avoid issues

These are just five fairly common areas of document and IT system design which we have seen affect client situations.  Inspite of planning and having some of the tools needed to deal with untoward situations they have found themselves affected.  A little more pre planning and a small upfront investment could have saved a substantial amount of risk or cost down the road.

In each case earlier intervention might have saved time and money.  More importantly it helps to reduce the risk associated with serious physical, technological or logistical catastrophy. Looking more critically at the solution which was deployed might have helped to avoid the problem.  Using the resources of an independent outside partner could help identify places where risks were evident that the client had not considered.  Such a partner is trained to see these kinds of issues and due to experience in a wide variety of operations they are more familiar with opportunities for prevention.

Are any of these kinds of challenges evident in your business?  What have you been avoiding looking at due to lack of time or resources?  Could it be a big surprise waiting to happen?

Lee K

Small Business Data Protection Backup Criteria

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Topics: document filing, network backup, document management, document storage strategy, network server, server software, business processes, data security