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ECM: Collaboration rules!

McGregor Interests, a commercial property management company based in Nebraska, uses Cabinet NG’s CNG-SAFE to manage its documents and accomplish its business processes. Documents that are created or arrive in electronic format are stored directly in the repository in their native format, while those that may arrive in hard copy, such as invoices and leases, are scanned in.

Cabinet NG’s workflow application sends documents to individuals who need to take action on them. "Whenever paper comes in the door, it is scanned and routed to the appropriate individual," says David Mooney, controller at McGregor. For example, when invoices are received, they are routed to the individuals who need to approve them and then to those who pay them.

Mooney continues, "We have business rules set up that send the invoice through a workflow that depends on the value of the bill we have received. By the end of the day, everyone who needs to see that document has seen it, and it can be processed."

Users can add notes to the document as it moves from one person to another so that everyone has access to information that relates to that document or process. CNG-SAFE also tracks the path the document took so there is a record of its progress. Security features allow access to be controlled down to the document level, so that a particular individual may not be permitted to edit an invoice, or may be allowed to see it but not interact with it.

Improved search

"We can control who can see the document or who can change or delete it," Mooney says. Retention policies can also be set for documents as they are created.

CNG-SAFE is used at McGregor to file everything from e-mail to Excel spreadsheets. Files from different applications are stored in folders that relate to a particular client or project. Documents that originated in one application and are saved in CNG-SAFE can be viewed from other applications through Cabinet NG’s Retriever module.

Mooney is enthusiastic about the search engine, which has been enhanced since the application was first deployed. "We can find information very quickly," he says, "and even if it’s been misfiled, we can locate a document through the full-text search capability." The search engine supports stemming, fuzzy search and phonics searches.

SMBs typically do not have IT support for integrating multiple applications, so having multiple functions in one product lets those companies gain capabilities that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. Business process management (BPM) is bundled into CNG-SAFE, for example, as are the scanning and search modules.

"Retriever provides document retrieval integration with virtually any Windows-based application, such as Act and Outlook," says James True, VP for business development at Cabinet NG. "On the backend, the Synchronizer product ties into the third-party application’s database, updating CNG-SAFE if contact information is added or changed."

Integration with other applications helps prevent duplicate work and increases efficiency. When scanned invoices are filed, a transaction can be automatically created in QuickBooks, Intuit’s accounting product for small businesses, using CNG-Books. Data is entered by an operator, who then simultaneously sends that information to QuickBooks and stores the image into CNG-SAFE with a single click.

"Users who are working in QuickBooks can pull down an invoice or any other image associated with that transaction, without leaving QuickBooks," True says.

Collaboration, whether through social media or business process management, adds value to content and supports working relationships

Automating document conversion

Compound document assembly and rendering are key functions of many ECM products. Solutions from Adlib Software automate the process of converting and compiling complex documents for such actions as submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Adlib Software’s Conversion Server can convert 300 file formats, without the application being present, and output to text, TIFF, HTML or PDF. Recognition Server can convert scanned documents and TIFF files to searchable PDFs, while Publishing Server binds documents originating in multiple formats ranging from PowerPoint to MS Word and PDF, into an electronic common technical document (ECTD), the format used for FDA submission.

"The amount of time to build these documents is significant," says Chris Yardley, marketing manager for Adlib Software, "and that erodes time-to-market."

The company’s products can also be used to convert paper processes to electronic ones. The city of Rochester, Minn., for example, formerly sent employee pay stub information through the mail. Now, Adlib Software accesses the employee’s e-mail address and employee ID from a database, pulls out the pay information, converts it to a PDF document and delivers the document electronically. That change has saved thousands of dollars in paper and postage, and speeded delivery.

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