Episode 3: Automation Assessments, Benefits and Discoveries
The following is a transcription from Episode 3 of The Orange Chair Podcast.
To listen to the full episode, or any other episode, you may do so by selecting your preferred podcast listening method on The Orange Chair Podcast page.
Alex Frazier: [00:00:22] Today in the orange chair, we have Colette Day, a solutions architect here at KeyMark, who’s going to be explaining to us about assessments. So what assessments are, why they’re beneficial to companies, and just kind of explaining a few common findings that these solution architects and our sales teams are finding when they’re doing assessments. So, I’m your host, Alex Frazier, and we hope that you guys will enjoy this podcast and that you’ll be able to find out what an assessment can look like for you.
Alex Frazier: [00:01:06] Hey, guys, and welcome back to the Orange Chair podcast. We are so excited for our next guest. Her name is Colette Day. She works here as a solutions architect. We’re so excited to have her here and we’re going to be talking about assessments. So, Colette, can you tell us a little bit about your role within KeyMark? Give us a little bit of background on who you are.
Colette Day: [00:01:26] Yeah. Thanks for having me. I am a solutions architect at KeyMark. So, at KeyMark, I am on the sales team, but I’m a little bit of a middleman between the sales and services. So that means that I come with the account managers to customer visits to see different companies and we get to do things like these assessments, we get to do discoveries and really learn about each company, how they function and how they do their processes. And I get to kind of give some of the technical background to our software, the things that we do, and be able to come up with solutions that can be implemented and then pass that on to our services team for further implementation.
Alex Frazier: [00:02:12] Cool. OK. So today, we are talking about specifically assessments. So, can you explain to us what an assessment is and why is it useful?
Colette Day: [00:02:23] Yeah. So, when I was thinking really, what’s the best way even for me, when I first thought about what is an assessment, I thought about it in the way of proofing. So, the idea that we’ve all had a paper or an email or document that we’re trying to finish and we’re having someone take a second look at it before we submit it or before we send it. And a lot of times we approach that in a couple different ways. So maybe we are stumped on something, there’s a sentence that doesn’t quite make sense, or we have an example, but it’s really not hitting home, or we just want to make sure that it all is flowing and sounds concise. Or maybe we have a finished document or e-mail that we think is perfect, is ready to go, but we just need one last check before we send it. And we have someone proof it and maybe they see a couple errors or a couple things that could be reworded and have that third party to look into our work. And so, to me, that’s what I think of as an assessment. And so, we can have companies that maybe are having a difficult time. They’re having their processes that are no longer functioning for what they need, that they are needing help seeing what is the new standard of efficiency and having things be automated or they’re having really big roadblocks in the systems that they’re using. And we can come in and do these assessments. That is giving a third-party view because overall you as a company are the experts of how you do things. You are the expert of your systems and processes and your software is that you currently use. So, we’re coming in. And for you to educate us on your company and we are the experts in this field of automation and document management and workflows that we’re able to then speak into your problems that you’re having specifically. So, for that first example of being able to kind of proof a paper that you might be a little bit stuck, that we can come in and see maybe where some of those roadblocks are. Be able to observe and have that third-party view to then give a list of suggestions, recommendations, and then be able to potentially implement a solution for you. So that’s where I see a couple of the big ideas of an assessment where at the end we’re able to have an assessment document listing out all of our recommendations, our thoughts and maybe a list of different applications and software that would really be the most efficient for that customer to propel and to further automation.
Alex Frazier: [00:05:28] Awesome. So, I’d love for you to just speak a little bit more to that. Can you give us maybe just a few examples of some common findings or some common thoughts that you guys are uncovering when you’re doing these assessments?
Colette Day: [00:05:42] Yeah. So, a lot of the times we see that people are doing things manually, whether it’s scanning in paper, whether it’s doing approvals on paper or having paper floating around. Maybe it’s all on the computer, but there isn’t integrations. Nothing speaking to each other. So again, things are having to be done and redone. Maybe entering in the same information into four different systems because you need the doc or the information and all those places. And so being able to educate that there is a better way. There is ways that we can integrate maybe what you already have and just allow them to speak together and have that communication among all the systems or the fact that there is possibilities for having a lot of time saving, of having these manual processes become automated with paper, being able to be scanned in having those paper documents, being OCR-ed, which is optical character recognition, to have all the information lifted off a document being able to be utilized further down without the use of any human interaction. So that is a huge benefit that we’ve seen. Just that idea of getting away from paper, getting more automated, having systems start to communicate without having to do repetitive processes. So yeah, we often are coming in and looking at a company and being able to learn a lot about how they’re doing things. So the big thing about this, and I just mentioned a little bit before about how kind of these assessments are working, is that ideally, we’d love to have prepared before we meet with a company to have pretty much meetings throughout the day. Assessments could be one day, a couple of days, however long is necessary for the size of the company. But being able to meet with different department heads, if it’s one department, let’s say accounts payable (AP), that we’re going in and we want to meet with as many of the employees as we can. That makes sense to be able to actually sit at their desk, be able to watch how they do their work, how they work with different software, how they interact, whether it’s manually scanning in papers and uploading them. What does that look like? And we’re able to then see a lot of the times that there is a lot of redundancies. So, let’s say in an AP process where they’re having to scan in invoices and then index those invoices, a lot of things are happening over and over again. So, a lot of times just being able to have a meeting place. So having all these people in one room where we’re able to then debrief afterwards and say this is what we’ve seen, is that a lot of them don’t know that this is being done over and over again or that a manual process is can be done once and not again, at another station and so on. And so, I think that goes along with a lot of the other examples that I’ve seen is that just having more visibility into their own company of how processes are being done. So, I think one of those being that for those who are using the software that we do supply is even seen that there’s certain features that are not being utilized that maybe they already have. So, there’s sometimes that we’re going to a station or a desk. And a lot of times we want to do kind of like an interview. We want to see. What are your pain points? What ideally in an ideal world, would you love to have as functionality that could make your job easier and be able to just learn from them and sometimes we’re able to fix an issue right there because they’re saying, well, I would really love for this feature and we’re able to pull up a checkbox and select a feature and turn that functionality that they already have on and be able to just do a little bit of educating with what they already have. Sometimes it’s just a simple fix of being able to game so much productivity with changing a workflow or a process, being able to add certain settings for, let’s say, a different aspect of a software that can just gain a lot of insight into their work adding functionality. Or sometimes it’s an upgrade we’re able to see. OK. Well, you’ve had the software for 10 years and since then there has been so much growth. So, the software that you bought, the version you got 10 years ago was great. But now with collecting all of these ideas and pain points, so much of that’s fixed and a newer upgrade. And that’s not buying a whole new software. It’s just doing an upgrade, which can be done sometimes over a weekend or over a week. And having that support from KeyMark and can gain so much with automation and dissolving a lot of those pain points. And a lot of people don’t even know that those upgrades really what an upgrade means and what that functionality looks like. So, we can do a lot of that educating as well.
Alex Frazier: [00:12:02] Gotcha. OK. Can you give us some specific examples of some things that you’ve seen during assessments that are like super eye opening for the customer?
Colette Day: [00:12:16] What we’ve seen is even just sitting at the desks of some of these employees and we’re able to see, okay, we’re having to have an email inbox with all of our team members and work through that email inbox. And it’s you’re hoping that no one else is working on that email or you’re having to manually send all of those documents into OnBase, which is one of the KeyMark software that we sell and support. But that was just such a manual process where they really when we asked that pain point or what they would like to have in the future, it wasn’t really even on the radar that there could be anything better. That them having to manually click every document in an email and send those and put in key words that there actually could be a much easier way and that the option was there and actually was just as simple add on to what they already had and were using was huge eye openings to so many people that we’ve seen. And that’s very common practice for a lot of the companies we’ve seen. But just the fact that a lot of the companies were being bogged down with work, not knowing what’s being done, what has been done, how long work is sitting in an email inbox and just having floods of e-mail. I mean, everybody knows everybody has floods of emails in their inbox. So just the idea that an email inbox could be set up and every e-mail that goes to that mailbox can be imported directly into OnBase that can then divvy up all of that work into every let’s say, every person on that AP department or AP clerks. And it’ll load balance so that if one person has seven things to do and one person has one, it’s not going to keep giving the person with seven more and more work. And I think that was just for some of these workers. You have just all day are working in this manual process and can’t get to anything else. Just the fact that they can know, OK, we’re going to have work split up between us and the work’s all going to get done. And actually, there’s tracking behind that. We can see how long documents are sitting there and we can know how well we’re working and what needs to be improved. Is really important for them and their managers and higher ups to be able to have insight into what’s working and what’s not.
Alex Frazier: [00:15:02] OK. So, what are some small things, I know you mentioned a few, but what are some other small things that are found during assessments that can actually make a big difference in day to day practices?
Colette Day: [00:15:13] Yeah. So, whether it’s a company that’s coming in that we aren’t already partnered up with or it’s a company that’s already using our software, I think we’re able to see again a lot of these nuances. So for a new company that’s coming in we’re able to see maybe they’ve been doing this process and using these same forms or documents since the inception of the company, and they don’t know necessarily any different how to automate that, even if that’s possible. And to show even the fact of being able to remove all the paper, that there can be an online form that they don’t have to constantly send out to customers or they don’t have to bring back in that it’s all tracked. It’s a huge benefit that we’ve seen for companies that have all this paper. And even for the fact of having one paper form and I know this is so common for every one of you have a paper form, you have to have three signatures on it. You’re taking it to desk to desk and you’re having to have all of these executives sign it. And you’re at the mercy of when they’re in the office or if they’re not. And the idea that that could be an electronic form and maybe they could approve or sign on their phone and they don’t have to be an office. That is huge because the lag time for a lot of people doing processes with now our day in age of people working remote, people being all over the world and having the ability to have a central connection is really cool. And for the people that we are already partnered with, we’ve seen some of just the simple changes that we’re able to see when we’re meeting with them at their desks. We’re able to see how they’re currently using the software. And again, like I mentioned before, them mentioning a pain point, we met with a customer for an assessment. And at the inception of using the OnBase and OCR software that we sell and service, they had certain rules around their processes. So, for one, having to have P.O. the letters PO be at the front of the string of numbers for a PO number and have that indexed every time into their keywords. Well, now pretty much ninety eight percent of the invoices that they’re having come in, they already have PO before the numbers. So now the software is saying PO PO and all the numbers. And so for us to be able to say, well, we can actually easily change a rule and say well if it has PO on it, don’t add an extra PO or if it does it then add the PO because that’s saving time that they’re having to check each document, edit the PO number and delete PO if it’s an additional PO for that. And so that’s a huge thing that we’re able to see. OK, what’s redundant or what isn’t working now that maybe worked before because of there’s change with other companies. You’re interacting with invoices that you’re getting in and so on.
Alex Frazier: [00:18:47] Gotcha. Yeah. So those are some quick fixes that, you know, are I think a lot of times when you’re looking at something every single day and you’re doing the same process every single day, having that third party come in and being able to just look at things a little differently and provide a new perspective, that can be very helpful. So how often should companies be engaging in assessments and why?
Colette Day: [00:19:13] Yeah. So ideally, we would say an annual, semi-annual assessment is just so worthwhile. And this is somewhere something that the sales team. So, an account manager and a SA, so someone like me, would be able to come in and just do a walk-through, be able to see where you’re at, what’s working, what’s not working. How has the company changed? Because like I said, just as much as software change every day and new software come up. A company is changing every day. You’re partnering with new people; you’re having new documents that you would like to be a part of a system and wanting to make that more efficient. And so, for us to be able to come in. Semi-annually annually, to be able to learn and a good touchpoint for us as well, to be able to just dive into how you’re doing things and be able to make sure that we’re highly educated on how you’re doing your processes. I think just making sure that you all don’t get to the place of, oh, no, how did we get here? We’re 10 years behind and nothing’s working anymore. And so being able to have that constant update again, not needing to get the latest and greatest and spending money because overall assessments are not made for us to come in to sell things. There’s not a sales pitch. We’re not coming in to try and say you have to buy all these things to be the most efficient company there’s ever been. We really will be honest with you. There’s sometimes that we’d say we don’t recommend that for you because that’s really not the best bang for your buck or really going to do that much for you. But we really just want to educate, wanting to help. We love those quick fixes. We love when there’s a quick change where there’s just a checkbox that needs to be checked and all of a sudden now you can complete a process right then instead of having to do all these other steps. So, we love that. And that’s no sale for us. That’s nothing. That is anything besides us getting to educate and learn. And so that’s a huge, huge reason why we would recommend to do assessments.
Alex Frazier: [00:21:50] Awesome. Okay. So lastly, I just want to hear maybe some final thoughts from you of what you’d like to share with our listeners about why assessments are beneficial or even if you just had some extra things that maybe we didn’t discuss earlier. If there’s any final thoughts that you have.
Colette Day: [00:22:08] Yeah. So, a lot of times and I know in this day and age, efficiency is such a big buzz word and everybody’s wanting to automate everyone. Everybody wants to be there, make sure that they’re not behind. And for some people. I mean, that’s that’s very intimidating. Again, like I’ve said, to have done a process the same way for years and years, having the same paper forms and to think through how is this going to affect the rest of our company if we make this change to automate? How’s this going to affect everything else? Is there going to be employee buy in? Is this going to affect how people do their job in a negative way? We don’t know because we’ve never stepped into this before or just the idea that a company may want to automate, but they want basically to do the same process they’re already doing. Just maybe add in a little bit of technology or have the computer do a little bit of it, but it’s the exact same way. So, this is not really adding any efficiency for us to come in and do an assessment. We like I’ve said, we love to have all the key decision makers, all the stakeholders department heads in a room, even for just an hour and then split up, but be able to think through for us to have the opportunity to ask, okay, how do you do your processes? Why do you do your processes? And so many times we’ve seen that they take over the meeting of just it becomes a brainstorming session of let’s get a whiteboard outlet, start thinking, okay, why do we do the things that we do? Can we do it a different way? Like is there a way to do this better that we can be the sounding board of? Yes, there is ways there is ways that we can partner with you, that we can make this system look differently. And I think the biggest thing is saying, okay, let’s map out this is the starting point of the process. This is the end point. What needs to be done in the middle? What’s the end goal? And then we can start just bouncing off ideas of. Here are a lot of different possible solutions that we can offer and suggest and allowing for customers to just dream big. Of what would be an ideal and being able to partner with them in that and give real life scenarios of solutions for them.
Alex Frazier: [00:24:31] Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much for being here today at the Orange Chair podcast. Thank you for all this information. And yeah, we really appreciate you coming in.
Colette Day: [00:24:43] Thanks so much.
Alex Frazier: [00:24:50] Well, that’s all that we have for you guys today. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. The Orange Chair podcast is brought to you by KeyMark. If you liked this podcast, please leave us a rating like and subscribe to our podcast channels wherever you guys are listening to podcasts. And you can even follow us on Instagram and Facebook, and we’d love to hear from you. This podcast is produced by Greg Aiken, Clay Tuten, and Me, your host, Alex Frazier. Until next time, bye guys.
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