What’s the key to success? According to the New England Business Service, Inc. (NEBS), the key to success is as simple and as complicated as remaining a mirror of the small business.
Since 1952, NEBS has been a leading direct marketer to small businesses in the United States, Canada, England, and France. Over its 48-year history, NEBS has strived to remain a reflection of the small business, all the while changing with the needs of its customers. NEBS has made customer service a top priority by contributing new products, services, and new channels to the marketplace.
Providing innovative, top quality business and computer forms, checks, and promotional products to millions of small businesses in four countries can be a daunting task.
Through the process of providing its customers with top-notch products and services, NEBS processes mass amounts of data, forms, and a variety of other paperwork on a daily basis. Obviously, with a manual process there is a great deal of room for inefficiencies. Paperwork can be lost while traveling from one department to another. The photocopying of work order forms leads to even more paper. As a matter of fact, a recent study noted that the average document in today’s business environment is copied 19 times. In addition, the number of pages consumed in businesses such as NEBS is expected to increase by 20% each and every year.
To summarize these statements simply, paper destroys productivity, and NEBS was surely not spared from this trend. Employees at NEBS lost time manually filling out forms, and then spent additional time finding those same forms if they were accidentally misplaced in the office space shuffle. It was clear that NEBS needed to find a way to manage the paper that was ultimately working to destroy office productivity.
An Added Challenge
Things at NEBS are run a little differently than at other organizations. Everything at NEBS runs on a terminal server, which meant that they needed to find an Electronic Content Management System that could handle that kind of set-up. Terminal server provides a link type of hosting which created unique challenges for any new system. And although some things were deeply imbedded within the terminal server, like a shell within a shell, OIT’s software was positioned to confront this challenge and met it head-on.
“Windows Terminal Server is a solid environment for running OIT’s native client software,” explains OIT President, Scott Buchart. “We have had other customers and partners deploy OIT software within such environments, allowing for easy and painless expansion. It also allows customers to leverage older workstations with today’s top of the line software such as OIT’s solution.”
After a careful selection process, all the while taking into consideration the special environment, NEBS chose Optical Image Technology, Inc.’s (OIT) DocFinity® suite of electronic document management (EDM) software to address the high demands of its complex business processes, thus increasing productivity and in turn, customer service.
NEBS made the decision to license OIT’s DocFinity Imaging, DocFinity Hierarchical Storage Manager (HSM), DocFinity IntraVIEWER®, and DocFinity Workflow. With the help of these products, NEBS will simplify the process of filling out forms and distributing the paperwork necessary to introduce and modify products for customers.
With OIT’s DocFinity Imaging, NEBS is able to capture all of the previously paper based information and store it in an electronic filing system. DocFinity Imaging takes all of the papers and forms off the desks of the NEBS employees and stores them electronically for fast, easy access. The employees are able to quickly locate and view the information they need. Once that information is accessed, they can fax, print, and add annotations to existing files, provided they have the proper security rights to do so. Users can share information simultaneously and even use E-mail to attach and send a document directly from the DocFinity Imaging program.
DocFinity HSM is a Hierarchical Storage Management program, which intelligently processes requests to retrieve, store and/or move information from multiple storage devices. Because DocFinity HSM processes all requests in a logical order, NEBS was able to reduce the mounting of platters, greatly enhancing efficiency.
For NEBS, the choice of DocFinity IntraVIEWER meant a low cost, efficient way of accessing and workflowing current and historical information from locations around the globe via a web browser. Users at NEBS can retrieve and workflow any object that is stored within the OIT document repository by using a standard web browser, such as Netscape or Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. A user simply submits a request to OIT and when security is approved, the information is retrieved from the storage device and transmitted over the web to the user’s screen.
The DocFinity Workflow module is an electronic document routing system that increases productivity, accuracy and efficiency over traditional paper processing. DocFinity Workflow electronically simulates the way NEBS processes business documents by making it possible for users to automatically route scanned documents and PC files. It eliminates the need for NEBS’ employees to hand carry documents from desk to desk, thus accelerating the completion of critical business tasks.
A Step Further With DocFinity Workflow
DocFinity Workflow allows the administrators at NEBS to plan exactly how they want the processes to flow. It was very important for NEBS to quickly and easily flow the work order forms from one department to another. Working closely with OIT’s Development Staff, NEBS found a unique way to utilize the functionality of DocFinity Workflow to help with the work order forms.
“Most business processes are developed around the flexibility of the human mind. This has definite advantages but it can present problems when attempting to add a degree of automation,” comments Jerry Cannie, OIT’s Director of Product Development. “This project has allowed us to show how DocFinity Workflow and IntraVIEWER are flexible enough to handle NEBS’ frequently changing business needs.”
As work is needed within the company, DocFinity Workflow will help NEBS employees fill out the electronic form. Depending on the information provided by the NEBS user, OIT’s software creates an electronic form that is passed on from person to person and department to department, within the company, until work is completed.
“We are very excited that NEBS will be using OIT’s DocFinity solution in such a remarkable way with the electronic form and work flow,” states Buchart. “It will now be much simpler for NEBS to keep track of work orders, transfer those forms between the appropriate departments and ultimately, advance both internal and external customer service.”
The electronic form, known as DocFinity XML FormFLOW™ within DocFinity Workflow means no more paper will be lost and the photocopying of forms and associated paperwork will be unnecessary. The software will help information flow faster, keep it more organized, and reduce costs.
In the future, NEBS may integrate its accounting package, PeopleSoft with the OIT software. The employees could then use the products together, eliminating a step from the business process. “The great part is that the flexibility of our software will allow NEBS to easily integrate it together with the accounting software,” comments Buchart. “This type of integration will provide NEBS with a faster, easier way to get things done.”
NEBS is experiencing benefits in a wide range of areas; some are expected and some are pleasant surprises. By implementing the electronic form with Workflow, NEBS has greatly reduced internal work order processing time. At the same time, the new system has also increased accuracy. In addition, NEBS has cut down on costs considerably. Paper reduction throughout the organization has led to less money spent on paper and storage. Along with the paper reduction came an increase in overall productivity among the employees.
The new electronic content management system implemented at NEBS has brought immediate benefits and will continue to do so into the future. The innovative electronic forms as well as the possibility of future integration will give NEBS the flexibility and the room for growth it needs to compete in today’s highly competitive marketplace.