QUESTION: What are some best practices or steps in selling the document strategy, especially if it supersedes other strategies and is only subordinate to the overall business strategy?

JOHN KNOTTS, @johnrknotts

The best way to sell the strategy is to identify the return on investment. More than likely, your document domain is full of cracks and holes that are being patched by dedicated employees across the organization.

There are several studies out there that explain that for every dollar of direct cost, there are six to nine dollars of hidden costs, which makes document management an expensive endeavor and a cash cow for process improvement and outsourcing. Additionally, there have been productivity studies that prove out that information workers waste close to 25% of their time working around documents.

Just the sheer numbers of physical and electronic documents, the number of document transactions, the cost of documents and the amount of errors produced around documents should be able to scare any executive into fixing the problem. The importance is to quantify the pain, the investment and the return.

JOE SHEPLEY, @joeshepley

Selling a strategy is the most difficult part of the whole effort, and without it, you might as well not even develop a strategy. After all, what good is a strategy that you don’t execute?

Given that, ensuring the support (people and dollars) of the document strategy is as important as getting the strategy right—again, what good is a strategy that gets the right answers but fails to get executed?

That having been said, the best way to sell a document strategy is to tie it to organizational priorities that live at the operational leadership level. By this, I don’t mean the executive leadership level priorities, which are often amorphous goals like growth, agility, innovation or responsibility.

Instead, you want to hone in on the operational work plans being executed a level or two down from the C-level and find ways that document management impacts them positively. Then, meet with the owners of these plans and get them to understand how investing in document management directly and significantly impacts their operational plans.

Once they connect the dots and the light bulb goes off, getting them to support the document strategy will be easy because they understand exactly how it creates a win for them.

John Knotts is a results-oriented business professional working out of the San Antonio, TX area. He leads strategic transformations and has extensive experience in strategy, change, process, communication and many other areas.

Joe Shepley brings more than 12 years of operational and technology experience to his consulting engagements at Doculabs. He also currently serves as the conference chair for the DOCUMENT Strategy Forum.

Remember to check back every Monday and Wednesday, as we feature a new answer to your questions each week. This is a special Q&A in partnership with the DOCUMENT Strategy Forum. For more information on how to build the document strategy or on attending the DOCUMENT Strategy Forum, email or call 866-378-4991.

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