CDIA+: The Blueprint for Success
CompTIA CDIA+ is a niche certification—but what an interesting and in-demand niche it is. Those holding a CDIA+ certification possess critical knowledge of technologies used to plan, design and specify a document imaging/management system. The acronym CDIA stands for Certified Document Imaging Architech.
Xerox, Canon, Ricoh, Minolta, Konica, Fujitsu and associated dealer networks, among others, encourage CompTIA CDIA+ training and certification. Hyland Software, a leading software supplier in the document management market, insists that every employee have a CompTIA CDIA+ certification. John Mancini, president of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), the international authority on enterprise content management, is CDIA+ certified.
CompTIA CDIA+ certified sales and technical personnel gather business requirements, recommend document management solutions, design solutions and plan for implementation. The work calls for extensive technical, interpersonal and project management expertise. Becoming CompTIA CDIA+ certified builds on IT skills and calls on the individual to stretch into new areas of color science, imaging and the flow of knowledge from paper to database and out to paper or to an electronic format.
According to the World Resources Institute, an environmental organization in Washington, D.C., global paper consumption has tripled over the past three decades and is expected to grow again by 50 percent before 2010. Along with increases in paper use, document imaging technology has grown in scope. Penny Walton, director of operations & IT, Imaging Office Systems Inc., said, “It’s a matter of expanding and converging technologies. Five years ago if you were going to implement a document imaging system, your technology choices were somewhat limited and were not integrated into your core business practices. In the past, document imaging meant archiving; today it means limiting your liability in a disaster and being able to get your company up and running again fairly quickly.”
Companies want to integrate their document management system into other core systems available over the Web. “They want to be able to search and find all necessary information through a common interface,” said Walton. “Document imaging is becoming more and more integrated with knowledge management across the board.”
Pamela Doyle, director, Imaging Products Group spokesperson, Fujitsu Computer Products of America, agrees that the lines between data, information and knowledge are blurring. “There are so many pieces of information and so many new technologies to manage them. The ways that we’re using these technologies to store and access information is significantly different than it has been in the past,” said Doyle. “Document imaging has become a supporting technology for knowledge management.”
Another major growth generator has been the Internet. Rather than implementing centralized operations, companies are moving document imaging out to remote offices. Documents are captured at the point of origin and then sent, via the Internet, to corporate offices for processing, said Doyle. Also, as companies move toward giving employees access to documents on the Web at any time and from any place, many are taking a broader approach to identifying and incorporating integrated document management or enterprise content management systems. Many companies have been successful implementing a document imaging system that reduces costs and improves efficiencies in the back office. But now they have a need to send that information and data out to the front lines, such as through a call center.
What Is Document Management Anyway?
When most of us think of documents, we visualize word processing and spreadsheets. Think again. It would be more appropriate to visualize, among other things, bank checks, invoices, medical records, insurance forms, loan applications, bank statements, tax records, educational transcripts and more. Each of these paper-based forms includes discrete data points. Sophisticated software is used to digitize content and transform it into data, which is then available to the organization. Governments and businesses look to document management experts to help design systems that do that.
When stand-alone analog copiers and high-speed printers became networked digital devices, the office equipment industry began training sales personnel in the basics of document management. A wide range of hardware and software suppliers as well as training organizations asked CompTIA to help research document imaging best practices and industry standards. The research effort resulted in the CompTIA CDIA+ certification being launched in 1995. The exam was revised in 2001.
Here is an example of the value that trained and certified document management specialists can create for an organization. A large retailer with more than 2,500 outlets and franchise operations in North America receives several thousand paper-based and electronic invoices each business day. All the information has to be retained and easily accessible for tax records, customers and various other business purposes. A system utilizing high-speed scanners and specialized software was designed and implemented to manage this influx of information. Invoice processing time was cut by more than 50 percent. Labor costs decreased dramatically. The system improved operations and company profitability.
Most people in IT recognize the need for disaster recovery planning. Document management has an equal need for experts to design disaster recovery processes. When the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed in September 2001, the streets of Manhattan were filled with millions of sheets of paper. The organizations that had a document management recovery process were able to rapidly resume operations.
The importance of disaster recovery not only indicates the need for document management planning and professionalism, but also illustrates a clear link between the world of IT and document management. This is a key point for those who have invested their time and education in IT, but want to use their skills to do something new and different.
CompTIA CDIA+ Job Task Skills
Twenty-five percent of the CompTIA CDIA+ exam covers gathering business requirements. This is an extremely interesting part of the job of a document management specialist. The professional must define the problem and determine the goals of the solution. He or she must identify the internal and external groups that will work with the solution and answer questions about appropriate access, locations and connections. An understanding of regulatory compliance is needed, as well as security and privacy concerns. How much integration with legacy systems will be required will also have to be determined at this stage of the process.
Twenty-two percent of the exam is analyzing business processes. This involves gathering the client’s business requirements and expectations, including return on investment, work improvements, customer service and access to data. The document management specialist must interview the project owner and key persons to determine which processes will benefit from a document management system. Determination of the volumes of both input and output for the selected processes must be made, as well as identifying costs and budget.
Sixteen percent of the exam involves recommending a solution. The CompTIA CDIA+ certified individual must identify business scenarios in order to develop a variety of solutions. He must quantify the alternatives by identifying the features, benefits and return on investment. The consequences of each alternative must be identified and the optimum solution proposed.