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Employing ECM in human resources

Human resources (HR) is both document- and process-intensive—a perfect scenario for using enterprise content management (ECM) technologies. Resumes, application forms, new-hire paperwork and policy manuals are among the types of content to be captured and stored. Applicant review, hiring and employee evaluation generally involve a series of process steps. In some industries, such as retail, where both employee volume and turnover are high, much can be gained by improving document and process management.


PETCO Animal Supplies was not satisfied with the level of performance provided by its manual process of hiring employees for its retail stores. Employees completed new-hire paperwork forms at the local stores, and the forms were then sent by fax or mail to PETCO’s corporate headquarters in San Diego for processing. However, the paper-based system created a bottleneck that was slowing the process of getting employees onboard. In addition, keeping track of the forms and ensuring that they were complete were labor-intensive and prone to error.

To streamline its onboarding process, PETCO turned to Autonomy Cardiff and its intelligent document solution, LiquidOffice. Newly hired employees now use a Web-based system to complete their paperwork in the PETCO store.

"Cardiff’s solution has reduced the lag time in getting employees onboard, as well as minimized the error rates in new-hire paperwork and lowered our costs," says Tina Asaro, PETCO’s human resource information system manager.

One of the features built into the system is the ability to create a customized packet of information for each new employee. "The forms that an employee needs to complete after being hired, such as the tax withholding form, are generated after the job offer is accepted, and their applicant data is interfaced into our human resource management system," Asaro explains. "The forms are selected automatically, depending on the employee’s location and role." For example, the correct withholding form for each state is generated.

The forms are imaged and stored using the Acorde product from Optika (purchased by Stellent and now owned by Oracle). At the end of the hiring process, employees are directed to a portal, where they have access to policy manuals and other documentation that is stored on PETCO’s Web server.


PETCO uses PeopleSoft (also owned by Oracle) as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) application, which is integrated with LiquidOffice. "Some of the data captured in the forms is fed into HR records, eliminating a lot of data entry on the corporate side," says Asaro. A consultant from Cardiff helped create the export packages from the intelligent document solution, and the integration with PeopleSoft went smoothly.

The transparency of the hiring process prevents new hire paperwork from getting lost or "stuck." Reporting and auditing tools are available to keep track of paperwork on an individual or aggregate level. Moreover, because LiquidOffice can capture electronic signatures, its use may be expanded in the future to other functions requiring that capability.

New game plan

For a small company, purchasing a set of enterprise applications can be prohibitively expensive, yet those companies also need to manage the documents and processes for hiring and staffing. Fisher/Unitech, a value-added reseller in the engineering technology field, employs 75 individuals and began using NetSuite three years ago for most of its business functions.

Less paper

NetSuite is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product that covers most of the business needs of a small to midsize company. First launched as an online accounting solution, NetSuite was then built out to include order management and inventory, then e-commerce and CRM. Its document management component, File Cabinet, securely organizes and stores digital content including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, as well as Adobe PDF files and other file types.

"When we signed on with NetSuite, we got a lot of new capabilities within one system," says Gregory Fisher, president of Fisher/Unitech. "We had four different systems before, but the biggest one was our set of metal file cabinets. Now we have our documents, ERP, CRM, Web site and e-commerce all within the same software suite, and we are in the process of moving away from paper files."

Solid case

At Fisher/Unitech, HR-related content—such as PDF files of resumes and associated notes, employee agreements and handbooks, and medical plan documents—is stored in File Cabinet. Employees can also access the NetSuite Employee Center to view and print their pay stubs, time cards and expense reports. Employees can also enter their purchase orders online; the orders are then routed to the manager for approval and to the financial department for processing.

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