I recently returned from the Statewide Virginia User Group held in Fredericksburg, VA. This is the sixth annual event for our most enthusiastic user-led user group, and I’m lucky to have attended five of them. Even more exciting, it was the largest Laserfiche user group meeting in history, with 122 attendees, 5 tracks, 22 sessions, 13 new CPP graduates—and its own hashtag, #VALF14!

User group leader Rosalind Collins from Charlottesville, VA, reports that the words used again and again in the surveys were “awesome, informative, helpful, friendly, fantastic.” One user summed it up best by saying: “Everything is awesome!”

For those of you who weren’t with us in Virginia, here are five of the most “awesome” takeaways you can apply to your own organization.

Takeaway #1: Automation doesn’t make bad processes better, it just makes them faster.

Mike Wells, user group leader from Chesterfield County, VA, is known for telling anyone who will listen “Workflow is the best.” So it’s no surprise the top lessons from his classes all focused on ways to make sure Laserfiche Workflow performs at top efficiency in your organization.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • Work your plan. When it comes to business process automation, you need to have a plan with a start and an end goal in mind.
  • Don’t make bad processes faster. It’s easy to simply automate a process the way it is—but take the time to rethink the steps in the process before you start automating.
  • Love your records managers. A lot of the time we focus on capturing documents into Laserfiche and automating them once they’re there, but don’t forget to make sure they’re managed properly according to your organization’s and state’s retention requirements.

Find more great advice in our blog post, “5 Bad Pieces of Advice about Business Process Automation.”

Takeaway #2: Balance quick wins with long-term strategic projects.

When I asked user group leader Joy Beddingfield from Roanoke, VA, her top takeaway, she was quick to point out that quick wins are key to a successful Laserfiche project.

“As an IT professional sometimes I get consumed by big projects that take a lot of time and resources to implement, and I forget that little enhancements can be equally impressive with a high return on investment,” she said.

Takeaway #3: Be sure you’re taking advantage of all the out-of-the-box features in Laserfiche.

When I taught “Five Quick Wins that Will Wow Your Office,” I was thrilled when one attendee told me that using Laserfiche Snapshot would save her an hour of work each day. Assuming she earns $20.00 an hour, that’s an annual savings of $5,020 to her organization!

The lesson? I should have listened more closely to my own presentation when I said, “What seems small to you might be huge to someone else.” When we’re familiar with a piece of software, it’s easy to forget those quick and easy features which really make work much more efficient.

Here are a few examples I used in my class:

Takeaway #4: For every problem, there’s a solution (or three).

My college motto is “Una destinatio, via diversae”—for all of you who skipped Latin or didn’t attend Mills College, that means “One destination, many roads.”

That was the approach we took last year in “Quick Fields vs. Workflow Smackdown,” a class so popular it was brought back for an encore at Empower 2014.

Everything you can do, I can do better (or at least a different way)

This year, we decided to kick it up a notch with “Rumble in the Jungle: Quick Fields vs. Workflow vs. Forms.” In it, we examined three common processes—invoice processing, expense reports and hiring—and how three different products could solve them three different ways while getting the same results.

That’s the beauty of Laserfiche. There are endless ways there are to automate accounts payable, HR onboarding, expense reporting, travel requests or any other common process around the office. They may differ in capture, automation or integration, but the end result is efficiency!

Takeaway #5: There’s always something new to learn—and new people to learn it from.

When I asked Amy Johnson from Hanover County, VA, her top takeaway, she didn’t hesitate before she replied, “There is always something to learn, no matter how experienced you are. I took the Workflow/Forms class and not only learned a few tips and tricks, but also left with a list of ideas to work on.”

Amy mentioned she thought a few people were surprised to see her attending classes, because as a user group leader there’s a perception that she knows all there is to know about Laserfiche. The reality is that no matter your level of experience, attending a user group can spark a host of new ideas.

And why? Because there’s great people to learn from!

Whether you’re connecting with the Laserfiche community at a local user group meeting, at the Empower conference, or virtually on Laserfiche Answers, you’re never at a loss for new things to learn—or new people to learn them from!

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