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Twentieth Century Fox Automates Records Management with Accutrac

  • April 01 2004, 1:00am EST

CATEGORY: Storage, Content Management and Knowledge Management

REVIEWER: Elizabeth Albee, executive director, Legal Central Files for Twentieth Century Fox.

BACKGROUND: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and Twentieth Century Fox Television are divisions of Fox Entertainment Group, Inc. (FEG). FEG is principally engaged in the development, production and worldwide distribution of feature films and television programs, television broadcasting and cable network programming.

PLATFORMS: Twentieth Century Fox uses a records management program developed by Accutrac, a records management software and services company, to manage physical and electronic information stored on HP ProLiant DL360 G3 servers. The servers, which run Microsoft SQL 2000 on Windows 2000 Server Sp3, support Accutrac's program to store crucial data.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Prior to installing the Accutrac system, Twentieth Century Fox used a proprietary UNIX application to file and cross-reference data. While the information was safely stored, finding and using it was not efficient because labeling, indexing and reporting all had to be done manually. Additionally, much of the knowledge about file organization and inquiry processing was lost when the former records manager left. A consultant recommended automating the records department. Accutrac now allows Fox to classify, index, search and retrieve all records (paper, electronic and alternative media) efficiently. The system also provides a complete database that is able to be cross-referenced for all files created, both active and inactive.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Accutrac's system helps eliminate lost or missing files, provides numerous management and reporting functions and decreases labor costs. Previously, the department employed 12 file clerks. Now the department only needs eight clerks. Rather than having to go to each shelf and physically pull a file to see what's in it, the indexing capability of the new system allows the user to perform a global search by keyword, date, file type or other parameter. For instance, if an executive needs to know the last three projects Jodie Foster worked on, a simple keyword search returns the results instantly.

STRENGTHS: Accutrac tracks the entire life cycle of each record: operators can trace the creation or receipt of a file into the department, learn how many times and by whom it has been accessed, and identify whether it's active or destroyed according to the company's retention schedule. Even after a record's disposal, documentation remains, indicating who destroyed it, when, on what authority, etc. Accutrac can also be integrated with document imaging, document management or other systems. Pull-down menus in the user interface and bar code scanning capabilities help eliminate human error and typographical mistakes.

WEAKNESSES: Since the implementation of the Accutrac system, users have occasionally identified the need for features the product didn't have. For example, the research and development team at Accutrac worked with Fox to integrate the product with another vendor's color-coded label system so that users could create labels via Accutrac.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Twentieth Century Fox needed a full-featured, centralized repository to automate records management functions. The company required an easy-to-learn and easy-to-use solution that professional records personnel as well as other employees could use. We also needed to decrease the amount of labor and time required to bring new information into the system and retrieve it. Even after choosing Accutrac, Fox reviews competing products, such as LegalKey Enterprise Records Management System and Hummingbird RM and DM5 packages, on a regular basis. Accutrac continues to earn its stripes at Fox. After observing our satisfaction with the product, other Fox divisions (including Fox Cable) have purchased the Accutrac system.

DELIVERABLES: Once a record is in the system, users can retrieve any of its data multiple times. The Fox legal department can trust the accuracy of the information Accutrac returns. We are confident in Accutrac's ability to let us know exactly where a file is at all times, down to the shelf level. Plus, the scalability of the product allows the department to specify the hierarchy of file types to be consistent with internal systems.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Accutrac's programmers are versed in records management as well as software development, which streamlines the communication process. Their extremely low employee turnover fosters a very stable relationship and is a rare asset. For example, when I call technical support, I don't have to review the account history each time because my rep knows me. If the developers solve a problem for another customer, we get the benefit of that fix, and vice versa.

DOCUMENTATION: Owner's manuals are distributed at product installation, and supplemental information is available online. Regular product updates are available from the company's FTP site. Accutrac consistently addresses our questions or concerns.

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