Content Management Case Studies

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May 19, 2003

May 2003 Issue

CM Helps Paperless Dream Become Reality

Case: Acuity Insurance
Product: Content Manager
Platform: Sun, IBM AIX, Microsoft Windows NT, and OS/390
Price: $24,000/server, plus $2000 per concurrent user

Perhaps no other industry rivals insurance for sheer volume of paper produced, yet Acuity Insurance had a vision of the future in which they would eliminate paper files as well as automate workflow and create a mobile workforce. In this vision, they would process applications and claims more efficiently and gain a competitive edge with this increased speed. On top of this, they would save money by sending their sales and claims people on the road with mobile offices, which would allow them to eliminate expensive office space for personnel who were often on the road working anyway. They sought out a software vendor to help them turn this vision into reality, and being an IBM shop already, they thought it made sense to turn to IBM for help.

Jim Glavan, director of information systems at Acuity, explains that they began to dabble in the idea of a paperless office as much as seven years ago when they purchased IBM software for scanning paper documents. Several years later, when they wanted to take the entire commercial line paperless using a Web-based solution, they talked to IBM again. Although they also looked at several other companies as well, Glavan points out they already had a relationship with IBM, which had offered a content product called Content Manager that (along with other software) could help them achieve their paperless dream.

Glavan says, "We needed a way to get rid of paper files" and today everything is captured and placed online as soon as it comes into the building. Glavan says, "All of the work flow and touch points changed," and as a result, he says, "everyone became more productive." Applications are scanned and entered on 21-inch monitors, so personnel can display the scanned document and the Acuity data entry application at the same time. Once that's done, it is put in an online cue and is sent automatically to the next person in the process. Acuity hopes to eliminate the data entry step eventually by having all sales representatives handle applications online, but they haven't reached that point yet because they use an independent sales system, making it more difficult to impose a standardized procedure.

During this process, Acuity was able to move many of their personnel out of offices and onto the road where they could be more productive and interact directly with customers. This move allowed Acuity to eliminate several large offices and save 6 million dollars from that alone. Glavan admits that at first, there was anxiety about closing offices, but after personnel got used to the new system, they liked the freedom of working on the road and face to face with customers, and just as important, customers liked the personal contact. With the new system, Glavan says, Acuity personnel lines now has a 24 hour turn-around, one of the fastest in the industry and this gives them an obvious competitive advantage.

A CM Fairy Tale Come True

Case: Eminent Research
Product: Content Management System
Platform: Microsoft Windows, Sun Solaris, Red Hat Linux, hp-ux, IBM AIX
Price: $100,000-$250,000

This is the story of Eminent Research, a company once inundated by paper documents, working with researchers all over the world, sending documents back and forth by courier services and forced by government regulation to maintain an audit trail of the elaborate process. The system was expensive, prone to errors and difficult to manage, so Eminent went in search of a solution. What they found was the Stellent Content Management System, which streamlined the entire process and transformed the way they do business.

Linn Laak, vice president and chief operating officer at Eminent Research says, "As a research organization, we are required to file an extraordinary amount of paperwork with the Food and Drug Administration to even get permission to do the kind of work we do, which is essentially trials of new technologies in the human patient population worldwide." She says that these documents, which range in size from 60 to 500 pages, were being shipped to physicians, ethics boards, and hospitals all over the world, and they needed to arrive on schedule and intact.

Laak explains that they needed something to manage the volume of documents, but they also needed to be able to audit any document that came into or left their shop so they could track from beginning to end where it had been, what it had been used for, any modifications that had been made, and ultimately what the final version was. Finally, they needed to be able to show that information to the Food and Drug Administration at any particular moment in time. Laak says that they were doing all of this manually. On top of this monumental document load, they also run one of the largest medical Web sites in the country ( Laak saw that with so much content and a workflow issue to deal with that they needed to get control of this process and a content management system seemed the logical way to go.

She went to four content management companies looking for a solution that could automate their process, but she recognized fairly early that Stellent offered what she needed, and allowed Eminent to get from purchase to implementation with little fuss, which was an important purchase factor for them. Laak says, "Everyone we talked to that used the Stellent product said that they were up and running within weeks instead of months or years." She says this was a major selling point for them because as a small company they don't have lots of extra cash. Laak says, "For us to buy something that's expensive and then to be functionally able use it right away has to be directly linked." She explains that Eminent didn't have a budget for additional programming and consulting time to get the program running. It had to run out of the box as is, and Stellent was able to meet this demand.

Laak purchased Stellent's content management solution and the only "customization" required was incorporating a unique graphic they asked for (that they no longer use), a minor tweak to say the least in the scheme of content management systems. Other than that, a person in-house was able to get up and running on the program with little handholding.

Today, all Web content is managed through the Stellent system and they have applied an automated workflow to the trial document process. While the medical personnel were not thrilled to have workflow imposed upon them, for the most part they were able to begin using the system with little training other than a single sheet of instructions. Laak says that all workflow is now handled via email. Project managers set up projects and the system sends email notifications to all parties involved. If the system detects that the document has not been retrieved, it sends reminder emails automatically. Documents are checked in and checked out through a Web site and the entire process is recorded by the Stellent system, meaning that it is now simple for Eminent to comply with FDA audit requests. In the process, Laak reports, they saved more than $500,000 previously spent on labor putting together packages and the subsequent Federal Express and other courier charges sending the packages to parties all over the world.

Laak now candidly admits that going forward was risk for a small company, but she says that the "Stellent solution has done so much to change the whole complexion of our business." She says that they took a chance that they could stretch a bit and in the end it put them ahead of their competitors. Laak says, "We had a bright salesman who could think beyond our industry and a solid board [of directors] willing to take chance."

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