Warehouse storage had been a burden for SSAB North Americas manufacturing plants as we housed paper documents used across our business processes away in file cabinets. Like most manufacturers, much of our paperwork needs to be stored for up to 10 years to adhere to ISO and other regulatory standards, resulting in costly storage and millions of documents sitting in boxes.
We always assumed maintaining paper records was the best solution, until a building holding 3.5 million of our documents was sold. We began looking at new ways and opportunities to work with the massive amount of paper information we had sitting around. After considering the value of a new electronic system, we decided to discontinue future storage of physical paper documents. It was time to move to an online document retention system.
A New Solution
We needed to put our paper into electronic repositories that could be easily implemented across our 14 North American offices. With minimal staff to rollout a new solution, we knew we needed a product that could be easily deployed throughout the existing environment supporting our steel manufacturing business.
We needed to find a document imaging software solution that could be used on our existing multifunction peripherals (MFP) and that had a simple, easy-to-use interface. Already having made the investment in MFPs, it was not an option to replace our existing hardware infrastructure or add new systems. Also, I knew that I didnt have time to convince each individual office of the value of a new complex IT system. Any solution that would be difficult to learn simply wasnt an option.
eCopy caught our attention because it was designed to easily integrate on MFP devices, work for the everyday user and connect seamlessly into business applications. We already had the hardware; all that was required was to add the software to our existing environment. Also, eCopy was so easy to use that our employees could integrate the scanning process into their daily routines.
With a new solution in hand, we rolled out our new document scanning strategy across the SSAB North America division. I personally installed the system throughout the company and, to my surprise, employees were excited by the change. The people I trained quickly saw the value of scanned documents that can be searched and re-sent electronically. The time savings of moving from manual to electronic processes was appreciated.
Training sessions at each location took only 10 to 15 minutes before office workers were comfortable with the new technology and put it immediately to use. Invoices are now sent to vendors electronically (without having to wait on mail time) and sales documents can be electronically searched by order number. The bottom line is that I didnt have to convince end users of the value of implementing the system it was clear that this increased the efficiency of their everyday workload and saved them time.
Document Scanning Across the Business
We quickly learned the combination of eCopy ShareScan and eCopy Desktop solutions could do far more than just reduce the amount of dead storage weighing down the company. Document scanning has now been leveraged across the company in 12 major functional areas from accounts payable to engineering to sales. As a result, document processing time has been reduced by 90 percent across the company. We have integrated document scanning using eCopy Connector capabilities with our Open Text eDOCS document management system.
For instance, on the manufacturing floor, we produce scorecards for each of the 125 slabs of steel produced every day. In the past, each scorecard would remain on the shop floor for a full year and then need to be stored for 10 additional years to adhere to regulations. Now, with the eCopy solution, the scorecards can be scanned directly into Open Text eDocs that will fully index the data so the page is securely stored and searchable. Then, after the scorecard has been entered into the electronic repository, we no longer need to store away the hard copy for 10 years.
Another way we have utilized the document imaging solution was to build documents for our engineering bids. Often, our engineering group would need to take information from multiple sources and in different formats for one bid, such as Web pages, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents. With the eCopy solution, we can digitally combine all of these documents into one before shipping it off to a vendor. These supporting documents are archived with the original request for proposal from the customer in an Open Text eDOCS repository. Additionally, if a vendor ships the same information with additional materials back, we can again combine all of those necessary resources into one PDF.
Less Paper or Paperless?
As often as I read about the paperless office, businesses have yet to make this a reality. In manufacturing, it is hard to believe that could ever be possible. Yet, through the process of creating online content repositories, we have entirely eliminated the need for physical storage. Three and a half million fewer documents are sitting in dead storage and are now efficiently managed for online access. SSAB may never see a completely paperless office environment, but weve certainly realized the benefits of reducing reliance on paper.
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