REVIEWER: Ivonne Guzman-Cicero, staff air pollution specialist for the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

BACKGROUND: CARB is a state government air quality and emissions control agency. It maintains healthy air quality in the state of California by protecting the public from exposure to air contaminants and providing innovative approaches for complying with air pollution rules and regulations.

PLATFORMS: OpenEDMS from Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software resides in a Windows 2003 Server and uses Tomcat and Microsoft SQL in the back end.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Manufacturers of new motor vehicles and engines must show product compliance with California emission requirements before they are legal for sale, use or registration in the state. CARB implemented the OpenEDMS solution, a Web-based document management system, to streamline its certification process and reduce the bulk of paper compliance certification applications. CARB must process thousands of applications submitted annually, and each application consists of more than 100 pages of information. In the past, once an application was received, it was forwarded in hard copy to designated knowledge certification engineers for review. Every application needed to be physically retained for future reference, although storage space was increasingly in high demand and short supply. Furthermore, it could take up to several days to manually search and retrieve archived applications.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Auto manufacturers are now able to upload application documents directly to our OpenEDMS centralized repository. Email correspondence from manufacturers is also stored in the repository so all documents are conveniently indexed in the same location for efficient access. Using the sophisticated search capabilities of OpenEDMS, the time it takes to locate and retrieve an application has been reduced to a few seconds, eliminating delays in the workflow process. When a manufacturer uploads an application to its designated submission folder, a document workflow review process is automatically triggered, ensuring optimal process efficiency. The intuitive workflow design tool allows our staff to develop stage-by-stage workflow templates that automate, streamline and standardize the review of incoming applications. Should any application require revision, it is automatically directed back to the manufacturer. The integrated mark-up utility enables staff to make electronic annotations directly on documents where necessary, while the accompanying redaction tool allows staff to digitally strike confidential content before documents are made available to the public.

STRENGTHS: We found OpenEDMS to be very intuitive to use, easy to learn and flexible enough to configure our document management system in ways that suited our needs. OpenEDMS’ version control function allows us to preserve all document changes and retain a history of earlier versions within the repository. With OpenEDMS, we have reduced application turnaround by 35 percent and reduced the need for new storage space by 95 percent.

WEAKNESSES: The archive tool is not mature. In addition, OpenEDMS lacks an installation program that facilitates the configuration of OpenEDMS in the server. Vendor support addresses this.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected OpenEDMS because it is a Web-based solution, which eliminates the need to install and support the application on remote computers. Other key features in our determination included the security and protection of documents, workflow configuration options, document version control, the comparison tool and the search engine.

DELIVERABLES: OpenEDMS generates PDF reports from the central repository and allows our users to provide parameters to define the content of each report. Alternatively, the content of the reports can be exported to Excel, which offers flexibility. OpenEDMS also facilitates the generation of workflow templates, metadata pull-down menus and directory templates.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Group 1 provided good support. In addition to training our staff, they installed OpenEDMS; configured it with Tomcat, Microsoft SQL, the mail server and Internet access; and assisted in creating the first domain (training), the document types, directories and workflow templates.

DOCUMENTATION: In general the documentation is good, although it is not up to date in some areas. Guidelines for product installation could be more detailed.

Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software
4200 Parliament Place, Ste 600
Lanham, MD 20706
(301) 731-2300

The contents of this review/article and the author’s finding do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the CARB. The mention of contractors and commercial products is not to be constructed as either an actual or an implied endorsement of such individual products.

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