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Eaton Vance Overcomes Document Management's User-Interface Shortcomings

During its enterprise content management deployment, Eaton Vance discovered the devil was in the user-interface details.

Human tendencies still can make or break a deployment, as Boston-based Eaton Vance Investment Managers reaffirmed when its electronic document management implementation hit a snag. "We were successfully piloting the combination of EMC's Documentum, Captiva and Centera in mid-2007," recalls Patti Bishop, Eaton Vance's assistant VP and process improvement manager. "However, we were struggling with document ingestion."

At the time Eaton Vance also was evaluating outsourcing options for historical document ingestion. The firm hoped to reduce the inherent end-user adoption challenges by outsourcing, according to Bishop. Unfortunately, "Although we worked with three different ingestion vendors, the resulting data files were only 98 percent accurate," she explains. "This was unacceptable and diminished our confidence in pursuing outsourcing for regular day-to-day scanning as well."

Adding pressure to the project was an impending move of approximately 700 corporate employees to larger quarters, slated to begin in early 2009. "This added urgency to resolving document ingestion because we didn't want to move thousands of boxes of paper files," Bishop says. "So we began looking for a better way."

Bringing Ingestion In-HouseM

Insourcing document ingestion had its own challenges. It not only required establishing a central scanning facility for batch projects, but also providing a simple, user-friendly method for dispersed location-based scanning. "During the original process of selecting a document management solution we had involved a group of end users from across the enterprise, allowing us to address any disconnects between IT and less-technical workers from the start," Bishop explains. "So we already knew that user interfaces could be a real pain point."

New office equipment complicated the project. "We were refreshing our networked multifunction devices (MFDs) due to the move," Bishop notes. "Our document ingestion method needed to be compatible with new MFD makes and models too."

Early in 2008 Eaton Vance evaluated three document-ingestion solutions. With its touch-screen interface and multisystem compatibility, eCopy ShareScan by Nuance Communications rose to the top, Bishop reports. "ECopy allowed us to pursue both centralized and dispersed scanning models, seamlessly," she asserts. "The human interface is so transparent that people think everything is done by EMC's Documentum. In fact, the system literally presents a button on the MFD screen that says 'Documentum' for users to push."

The eCopy/EMC combination also enabled bar coding -- initiating a job in Documentum and completing the form field prompts the system to print a bar code associated with the job, according to Bishop. Users can simply place the bar code on the document before scanning and all other electronification and classification chores occur in the background.

A Million Pages and Counting

By August 2008 integration of eCopy, EMC and the MFDs was completed, bar coding generation was developed, and the central scanning facility was in place. In a race against the clock, the new system rolled out enterprisewide and document scanning proceeded in earnest. "During the six months prior to the move, we ingested more than 1 million pages," reports Bishop. "That was an important accomplishment for us."

Yet benefits have gone well beyond short-term cost containment. "We've improved our disaster recovery and compliance positions," Bishop points out. "We're also sending fewer boxes to [storage] every month." Indeed, prior to deploying electronic document management, Eaton Vance had piled up 17,000 bankers' boxes in secure storage. Now some departments don't send any boxes to the warehouse at all, Bishop relates.

Going forward, Eaton Vance expects more efficiencies as manual processes move to the electronic platform. "Of the population of processes we'd like to improve, we've identified about 20 percent," Bishop estimates. "For 2010 our focus is on identifying more processes to streamline and on implementing electronic workflow solutions. For instance, our HR department is piloting online form-building because simple processes, like changing an employee's address, should never see paper."

The enterprise has embraced the new paradigm, Bishop says. "There was some resistance at first," she acknowledges. "Today, the vast majority of people tell us we've improved the way they work. So overall, we have a lot of very impressed users who are very pleased with the outcome."

Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio

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