A few months ago I wrote about our entry into a Brave New World of Capture where I was talking about the new Multi-Function Printers (MFPs) that were being installed. One of the things we were excited about was these machines’ ability to scan to SharePoint. ‘Scanning to SharePoint’ was a feature listed as being ‘required’ in the RFP. In fact ‘scanning to SharePoint’ was highlighted as being the most important feature we were looking for. We selected these MFPs based on the way in which they could scan to SharePoint. Every proposal had a solution; we liked this one based on technology by Ricoh and NSI (Autostore) the best. I have been keeping this post in a holding pattern because…well because the scan-to-SharePoint option didn’t work.
OK, that’s not fair, it did work. It does work. The MFPs print, copy and scan, and they can scan to SharePoint by hooking up with the NSI software on one of our servers. Unless (yeah, you knew there was an ‘unless’ or a ‘but’ coming), unless the software needs to set a managed metadata column after the scan. In that case, the scanning process ignores the metadata – not just the managed metadata, all the metadata.
Important note: The reason I waited to post this, is because Ricoh and NSI have been working on a solution to this problem, a solution we are now testing.
The point of this post was going to be that a tiny 35-person company shouldn’t be pointing out problems to vendors. We should be benefiting from Fortune 100 companies having already pointed those problems out and vendors having already solved those problems! I wanted to write about this, because this isn’t the first time this has happened. We discovered problems with both Harmon.ie and HarePoint when trying to move documents between our two SharePoint Farms. Again, both of those companies jumped on those problems and both solved those problems, but I am still amazed that we discovered those problems. I can’t believe that we were the only ones trying to use those features?
Marc D. Anderson (far right in picture) pointed out at a recent AIIM New England event that we might benefit from the fact that we are small, perhaps “nimble” and that we can address problems quicker. I guess I never thought of our company as being nimble but that’s probably because I’ve been here so long. Prior to working here, I worked in several large organizations, and they were far, very far from nimble. Maybe that’s what’s going on here. Maybe we are benefitting from the fact that my manager (who discovered the scanning problem) has the authority to contact the vendor, make any necessary changes to the configuration and install the temporary fix on our server. That last bit alone would be a show-stopper in most organizations. Our guy was concerned about installing that fix, but it’s his decision. He’s also capable of taking a snapshot of the VM and restoring that VM if it becomes necessary. For all I know, we are the first people to discover this problem because the SharePoint folks at the big companies are still waiting for the server guys to evaluate and install the product for testing!
How does a company become nimble? Is that possible? I don’t know, and I don’t have any advice for large companies, but I am actually raising the question in a therapeutic kind of way. As we prepare for the next generation to take over my department, we are becoming less nimble. That’s not a complaint; it’s just a fact of life. When you spread work that one person used to do, across 2 or 3 people, nimble suffers. The question to me is “how do I preserve that nimble nature?” I need to answer that because Marc is right; being nimble is a huge benefit. I don’t have the complete answer, but I know that communication, trust and autonomy are big parts of the answer. I also know that trust and autonomy require even more communication.
Marc recently completed a small consulting project for us. Ironically, he solved a different problem we were having with managed metadata, a problem I wrote about in Stuff Happens. I like to think we made Marc’s job a little easier by extending a nimble environment to him. We trust Marc, so we gave him the autonomy that he needed and of course we communicated with Marc. A few years ago, Marc may have had even more autonomy. A few years ago, Marc would have only been working with me. This time, he needed to get permissions from the manager and he needed to communicate with a systems analyst on my staff. We were able to move through the project pretty quickly and the project was a success despite both Microsoft and our own bad habits creating obstacles for Marc. Nimble works – let’s be nimble.
In case you missed it, I want to point out that NSI, Harmon.ie and HarePoint have been very responsive to the problems we have encountered. These are precisely the kind of vendors you want to work with. No vendor ever talks about problems, but they all have them – no product is perfect. The best vendors are the ones who solve problems.