REVIEWER: Gloria Geisert, network administrator at Santa Margarita Water District.

BACKGROUND: Santa Margarita Water District is a water and wastewater public utility located in South Orange County, California. The district provides services to more than 150,000 customers. District residents have no underground aquifers and must rely on water obtained from sources outside the region and on conservation - hence an extensive wastewater reclamation effort in addition to the usual distribution activities of a public utility.

PLATFORMS: ACOM Solutions EZ-ContentManager (EZCM) is installed on a Windows 2003 server running SQL 2000. EZCM autoupdates IBM spool file reports from EZeDocs/400 and EZPay-Manager/400, two ACOM companion applications for printer and output queue management of checks, reports and forms generated by our integrated utility accounting software. The accounting application is installed on an IBM System i server running i5/OS V5R4M0.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The district had been using expensive, complex, aging archive software that was neither user-friendly nor versatile. A company-wide paperless initiative mandated that the application candidate be capable of storing files generated in a variety of disparate applications in their native formats, incorporating file and folder level security, providing approval cycle processing and offering electronic signature approval options.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: New archive files are easily indexed, uploaded and filed in EZCM, further enhancing its utility. A robust search feature allows each user to create and save custom queries. Its familiar Windows-style folder structure and ability to name files with friendly, recognizable names enables easy, quick location and retrieval of archived documents.

STRENGTHS: The program’s cross-platform compatibility and seamless integration of disparate systems resulted in a significant reduction in management costs while delivering an easy-to-use electronic file cabinet alternative to a wide range of users. EZCM’s intuitive user interface, low total cost of ownership, flexible file format (SQL back end) and easy-to-manage security made it an ideal file management solution that required little or no training.

WEAKNESSES: Migration of more than 50,000 documents from the old retention program carried over some document classes with inadequate or weakly conceived index fields because of how they were initially saved. The inability to add new index fields to such document classes diminishes accessibility to these older files as well as to any documents added to these classes. These problems are residual in the earlier system rather than to EZCM. In the configuration that we implemented, selecting documents for folder reassignment can be time-consuming when moving them in large numbers.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Central to our selection was to contract with a vendor familiar with our accounting software and to find a program capable of automatically retrieving and indexing files from both Windows and the System i. The district had previously implemented ACOM’s forms and check printing tools on the System i, experiencing a smooth execution and seamless integration. This further supported the company’s credibility and was instrumental in their selection.

DELIVERABLES: The district’s paperless initiative could not have been achieved without the use of the application. It has grown tremendously since the 2006 rollout, a direct result of EZCM’s versatility and ease of use. Numerous document classes have been set up, and an average of 250 reports are autoarchived weekly. Board documents, accounting journals, contracts and a host of other important records are being scanned, indexed and held in the document vault. Location and distribution of files no longer involves loss of staff productivity in searching, copying and delivering requested files.

VENDOR SUPPORT: ACOM worked closely with the district on project design, installation and rollout. Technical support helped us fine-tune our operations and customize the migration of files from the retiring retention application. Support staff was friendly, knowledgeable and responsive. Work was completed on schedule, and the successful implementation directly resulted from the collaborative spirit and dedication of ACOM personnel.

DOCUMENTATION: ACOM provided thorough, plainly illustrated and straightforward manuals. Advanced features are documented in clearly identified, achievable segments. The documentation clearly defined the system requirements and detailed the preparatory configuration and installation tasks.

EZContentManager
ACOM Solutions
2850 E. 29th Street
Long Beach, CA 90806
(562) 424-7899
http://www.acom.com/

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