Emory Report

February 28, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 23

Technology Focus

The Emory document management system: Moving forward

Feb. 4 marked the one-year anniversary of Emory's new production document management system (DMS), Optix. During the past year, the system has performed extremely well with an up-time average of more than 99 percent.

In the spirit of maintaining a state-of-the-art system, the Information Technology Division recently upgraded the Optix database to the latest release of Oracle Relational Database Management System. Additional investments such as a CD writer, high-speed scanner and Macintosh G4 workstation also help ITD provide customers with capable, feature-rich service. One of the more exciting innovations undergoing testing is Optixweb, the Optix Internet interface that we expect to launch this summer.

These recent investments are well timed as several customers are looking to use electronic document management for more than basic scanning and indexing. For example, Institutional Advancement is electronically transferring data directly into Optix from the mainframe-based Donor Records System. This direct data transfer reduces the need to retype data, therefore reducing user intervention and saving time.

Accounts Payable is allowing customers to view paid invoices online with Optix client software. This "self-service" approach reduces the time required by staff to manually retrieve invoices during a phone call with a customer. Customer questions regarding invoices also are answered much more quickly than before.

The registrar and admissions offices are developing a DMS application to automatically scan and store records while simultaneously updating key databases. As these electronic records age, they may be "burned" onto CDs to save space and enhance security procedures.

Workflow is another promising technology, with plans under way to develop an application with the Office of Student Financial Services to electronically route and process various correspondence. Historically, correspondence has been "walked" through the office for review and approval. Once processed, the letters were filed away, and if a review of any correspondence became necessary, the information had to be retrieved manually. Soon all correspondence will be available online.

The costs of managing paper documents are often overlooked because paper plays such an important role in the work that gets done. But these costs can be significant-one four-drawer file cabinet, for example, costs about $600, depending on quality, plus another $200 for file folders and in-drawer hardware. Add to that $300 per square foot for floor space, and the cost for a file cabinet is about $1,100 for the first year.

Soft costs, including the time required to file, refile and locate lost documents, can also add up. Recent statistics from AIIM International state that an average of 3 percent of filed documents get lost-and finding them costs an average of $120 in salary. In sum, a properly implemented, electronic DMS can save significant amounts of time, money and headaches.

The first step in developing a DMS is to clearly understand the benefits you expect to gain. Do you want to reclaim floor space? Reduce document retrieval time? Provide "anytime" access to documents? An ITD business analyst can guide you through the process of examining your documents and businesses processes and then recommend the most appropriate solution.

A written records management policy is also important to any successful DMS implementation. These policies clearly describe the length of time documents are to be kept and in what format, and how they are to be destroyed.

Emory's document management system is a great way to improve the way we manage paper. The paperless office may not be a reality yet, but we are certainly moving in that direction. For more information, contact ITD's John Wilson at jbwilso@emory.edu.

John Wilson is a business analyst in the Information Technology Division.

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