Taking a Vertical Leap with Content Management

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Case Study: Putting Utility into Document Management
Company: Public Service Company of New Mexico
Vertical: Utility
Problem: Manage massive repository of paper documents
Solution Vendor: Hummingbird

Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) was collapsing under mountains of paper documents. With more than 50,000 boxes of files stored in offsite warehouses, and tens of thousands more stored onsite, the company desperately needed a way to get their documents under control.

PNM, which employs 2,700 people and services almost a half million customers in 100 communities throughout New Mexico, is a publicly regulated utility and, as such, must answer to a myriad of state and federal regulators. This results in unique content and document management require- ments. They deal with an inconceivably high document volume, have to fill regular requests for information and documentation from their regulatory overseers, and have a need for an organized and sensible retention policy on documents that in some cases must be saved for 20-30 years.

Carl Seider, PNM's systems administrator, understood that their paper-based method was demanding excessive amounts of money and resources and was being crushed by its own weight. "Our cost of doing research (to answer regulator requests) was just tremendous," says Seider. "We were talking about the labor time spent getting boxes, bringing them in from an off-site storage facility, and then having people sit down and go through them document by document."

What's more, PNM was using the most rudimentary mainframe indexing system to help them locate materials stored in boxes. While this system could help them to confine the search to a certain number of boxes, it didn't allow them pinpoint-accurate access to the documents they needed "We weren't indexed down to a granular enough level. We could isolate a set of boxes, but then we had to search for the documents we needed manually," says Seider. "We had every reason you could think of to get content management."

The company put out an RFP and eventually narrowed the choices down to Documentum, FileNet, and Hummingbird. They ended up going with Hummingbird because of cost considerations and the fact that the solution is compatible with Microsoft tools and databases, which to PNM meant they could always find qualified personnel to help build links from their Microsoft products to the Hummingbird system. They also felt they could customize the basic Hummingbird product to meet their needs fairly easily.

PNM ended up buying Hummingbird DM for document management and Hummingbird Imaging for the scanning and management of the paper document files. They were able to convert the entire mainframe indexing system before turning on the Hummingbird system, allowing them to incorporate the existing system into the new one. An additional benefit was that the system allowed them to track requests for paper documents and then scan the most popular ones.

As part of the transition, most documents moving forward are saved as PDFs, bypassing the need for paper. PNM assigns all documents to a strict retention system, so they know exactly when to remove outdated material from the repository. "We have unique needs as a public utility, and one of the huge things is to reduce our exposure by managing the retention of the documents properly," says Seider.

The system went live with 10 document libraries. This ballooned to 23 before finally settling down at 17. Seider says if he had one thing to do again, he would have kept a better handle on the total number of libraries.

In the end, Seider is happy with the results of his system and says that, even with document production approaching a mind-boggling 1.3 million pages per month, the system has been able to handle it. "We've been happy that the system has continued to scale to our users' demands". In fact, Seider says that at the end of October, the system housed 34.7 million documents (and still growing).

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