Dart Container Corporation needed to replace a legacy imaging system used for wide-ranging document types such as payroll, benefits, sales, vendor records, and HIPPA-covered records. Dart’s legacy IBM system, which the company had used since the 1990s, saved images to an optical platter device that was no longer supported.
Michael Mead, Manager of Emerging Technologies at Dart, led a strategic examination of upgrade paths. The new system would need to handle over 16 million documents migrated from the old system and ongoing additions of 30,000-40,000 documents per month. Another factor influencing Dart’s decision was that their current IBM CM environment was aging and their service contract was set to expire. Dart brought in KnowledgeLake’s Professional Services team to migrate over 16,000,000 documents from their current IBM system into SharePoint. Dart needed to ensure access to their documents for years to come and this was in jeopardy with the current IBM system.
Michael and his team sought an approach that would further reduce manual processes, establish workflows, accommodate additional documents types, and integrate with the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Michael and his team considered IBM’s FileNet and EMC’s Documentum but found these platforms to be limited in their potential for integration with ERP systems. Also, those systems would have required additional servers dedicated to imaging. As an alternative to standalone ECM platforms, Michael and his team investigated how Dart might extend its use of SharePoint, a product the company already owned. Dart requested KnowledgeLake to demonstrate its ECM solutions based on the SharePoint platform.
Michael and his team turned to Concurrency, Inc., both a Microsoft Partner and KnowledgeLake Partner, for assistance with designing and deploying the SharePoint-based solution, including preparation for integration with SAP, Dart’s chosen ERP platform. “We decided to take the opportunity to learn about SharePoint and configure correctly for a true ECM environment,” said Michael. In the project’s initial stages, Concurrency consultants worked with Dart staff to plan site collections and establish a detailed taxonomy of content types.
The KnowledgeLake onsite demos showed the power of a flexible solution. First to a small group of Dart managers, and then to a wider user-base audience. KnowledgeLake representatives demonstrated Capture, Connect, and Imaging tools while also discussing the benefits of making use of Dart’s existing investments in SharePoint
“It was very critical that we could handle auto-assist and full auto indexing of content types exported from SAP. Because of the easy way KnowledgeLake Capture works, our SAP developers could create PDFs with XML in the form the Capture server expects. Now SAP dumps thousands of documents in batch jobs into the Capture server, and Capture picks them up and puts them away,” said Michael Mead.
He continued, “From an auto-assist perspective, because of SharePoint’s power, our own .NET development staff could create web services to reach into SAP and pull out indexing values for auto-assist. We have two dozen content types on auto-assist already. It’s remarkably fast. SharePoint has provided the flexibility, and KnowledgeLake auto-indexing has allowed the convenience. Without that, we would have had to do a lot of custom development.”
In addition to integration with SAP, the new system also reaches into SQL tables to integrate with internally developed business applications, making use of that data to enable auto-assist and full indexing of documents coming from these other applications.
“Some of our people saw Connect one time, and I thought they were going to do cartwheels,” said Michael Mead. “They love it. It’s a unique tool that makes it easy to put content away in SharePoint. There’s no mystery of ‘how do I get it in there?’”
Michael explained that previously, staff members would often need to physically print a PDF document, scan it, and index it. “That’s a huge savings right there,” he said. “Just apply metadata and put it away. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments about how intuitive it is. The user interface is easy.”
Dart is currently rolling out the new imaging system across departments. Dart has approximately 30 end-users conducting imaging now, a number Michael expects to grow to between 50 and 100. And many more employees are taking advantage of the search tools—4,000 to 5,000 by the time roll-out is complete.
Michael also notes that training has been easy. “We’ve been able to handle all the training in-house. End users pick it up quickly because the products are intuitive. We haven’t needed to go through expensive processes to show people how to use it.”
Besides time savings and ease of use, Michael notes security—such as for HIPPA-covered data—as another major benefit to the new approach. “Under the old system, it was hard to isolate sensitive data,” he said. “Now it’s no problem. We can create multiple file types and even run multiple applications to keep things apart, so that sensitive data is stored on different SQL servers. There’s no impact to end users, since they still search from one spot.”
Another major benefit was scalability. “We are creating new SharePoint demand,” said Michael. “It’s flexible and expandable. We have over one terabyte of data into KnowledgeLake and still have a ways to go. We are moving 11 million documents from the IBM content manager to KnowledgeLake. We’re also in the process of adding 40 more document types.”
Dart also plans to roll-out use of the KnowledgeLake Unify which surfaces SharePoint content to business application without having to leave the business applications’ interface. This will enable users to easier access to relevant document stored in SharePoint from other enterprise ERP and CRM environments.
No need to invest in additional server farms to serve a dedicated ECM platform. Dart had already invested in SharePoint for collaboration and document management and had taken steps toward replacing Lotus Notes functions with additional SharePoint tools for team rooms, discussion sites, and applications. Now, the imaging system represented an opportunity to derive additional value from those SharePoint investments.
Flexible architecture that could integrate with a wide range of ERP systems. This was particularly important, because at the time Dart was in the process of selecting a new ERP system. The SharePoint-based solution could integrate with SAP, Oracle, Dynamics, or other platforms. That flexibility subsequently proved especially valuable when Dart integrated Solo Cup Company operations—a 2012 corporate acquisition that approximately doubled the number of users.
Using SharePoint as a true ECM platform. By adding KnowledgeLake Imaging and Capture tools to the product suite, SharePoint could serve Dart as a true ECM platform, whereas the previous IBM platform could serve only document repository and management needs.