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Digging out from the document mess

The document management system in the Global Medical Marketing (GMM) Division of pharmaceutical company GD Searle was fraught with problems.

What was meant to be an out-of-the-box solution created so many snarls that users became frustrated with it, scorned and even circumvented it.

"After months of dissatisfaction and system utilization at near zero," says Steve Newberger, IT business analyst at Searle, "we set out to find a more effective solution."

After all, as the link between Searle's R&D and sales organizations, the GMM division generates information that is key to Searle's success. It offers medical and scientific information and builds physician support for new pharmaceutical products. GMM members also answer doctors' inquiries about the use of products and supply competitive information about other drugs on the market.

The GMM had implemented a large intranet-based system to distribute the information it accumulates and the materials it creates, including detailed graphs, charts and other images. That intranet also includes the pesky document management system.

"Although it was not really the fault of the technology," says Newberger, "there was a high level of unhappiness with our existing document management solution. Our external users had pretty much given up on the system after their first few attempts at logging on and attempting to download what they needed." Rather than tossing out its investment, GMM turned to Technology Services Group to modify the system through new software tools. TSG and Searle created a list of must-haves that began with reliability and accessibility. They also sought a more personalized and intuitive interface, as well as better navigation and search capabilities.

Over the next few months, the revisions were designed and implemented. The improvement in access and the ability to share information was visible immediately, according to Newberger.

"We've achieved a 180-degree turnaround from where we were just a few months ago," he says. "Usage on the document management portion of the intranet site has improved from one or two hits to hundreds per day." A new auditing component helps track user access to content posted on the site, and An enhanced interface provides personalized information for Searle's users.

"What we've developed," says Josh Schafer, former manager of healthcare technology in GMM, "is a personal information portal for medical information. It provides real-time information and saves our people time because the data they need is waiting for them, and they don't have to navigate the system to find it."

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