Canon Business Solutions ­– Northeast handles sales of Canon business products for the Northeastern United States. Canon business products include full-color as well as black-and-white copiers, printers, micrographics and image filing systems, facsimile machines, flatbed scanners and other specialized industrial products.

Customer orders are typically eight to 10 page documents that include the order itself, leasing documentation, service contract, sales tax exemption licenses, marketing coupons and sometimes other items. In the past, a sales administrator was responsible for gathering the documents, making four copies for use at the branch and headquarters, keyboarding information into the company's order entry system and shipping the package to headquarters. When we began the project, there was a two-year backlog of documents. Because there was no chance of obtaining the documents immediately, the service representative would have to tell the customer that he or she would call them back. For recent orders, the service representative would try to locate it in the storage room. This could take hours because of the large number of documents stored in this room. More commonly, the documents would have already been shipped to the records storage company and would take days to retrieve.

Tom Ainsworth was assigned to the task of selecting and implementing a document management solution. The regional offices now assemble the documents and scan them using a Canon ImageRunner multifunction product that includes a laser printer, scanner and fax capabilities. Once the documents are scanned, the sales administrators use Ecopy Inc's Ecopy software to send them to a network folder at headquarters where they are queued for indexing. No data entry needs to be done at the regional offices; a bar-coded header page or the bar-coded order itself, with the order number, is used to index the documents. Steve Shustak, Canon's micrographics administrator, monitors the input and follows the remote scans through the system. The documents are stored in the imaging system and can be called up in a few seconds simply by typing in the customer order number.

Substantial cost savings have been achieved including nearly eliminating the need to retrieve documents from external storage, copy sales documents and print reports. Time savings have been achieved throughout the organization because critical documents can be retrieved in seconds rather than a day or two and by greatly reducing paper handling. It's impossible to determine exactly how much we are saving, but we are sure it's many times the cost of our investment. We are saving approximately $100,000 per year in paper, shipping bills, faxing and storage costs. Of even greater value are the savings in soft dollars. Just as important, 40 or 50 customer calls per day that require reference to order documentation can be answered immediately rather than having to call back one or two days later when the documents have been retrieved from storage. We found the cost of an uncollected bill, a timely proof of delivery, more efficient processes and quicker customer response to be incalculable. It's clear that we are saving substantial amounts of money; and as we move to take advantage of additional capabilities of the system, our savings will continue to increase.

Consider the possibility of killing two birds with one stone by implementing an imaging system that also has COLD (computer output to laser disk) capabilities. In this case, we established several standard output queues on the AS/400, and reports that are intended to be archived are placed in these queues. Standard file naming conventions were established to identify the reports. To add a new report, a staff member simply establishes a definition for it. The entire process takes approximately five minutes.

The Metafile solution has some significant goodies that the others systems we looked at did not have. It makes it possible to assign people and classes of documents to groups and limit the groups that are able to access each document. Metafile's COLD storage system was the best we saw.

Metafile's COLD System has a full text search feature that makes it possible to find documents even with very incomplete information. Their service people are excellent –­ they know their product and how to make it go. The cost of the product is considerably less than most of the alternatives that we considered.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Information Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access