Published on 28-Mar-2012
"Thanks to IBM, we’ve collapsed a process that used to take 30 days to one day, and we’re not spending $30,000 per change for postage. We’ve eliminated errors, and customers get changes to parts much faster, which is a major improvement to our customer service." - Director of IT operations, US industrial products company
A US industrial products company
Enterprise Content Management, Information Lifecycle Governance (ILG)
This publicly traded holding company has subsidiaries operating across the manufacturing, specialty retailing and mining industries.
The company conducted many of its business processes with microfilm and paper, slowing engineering changes, making audits expensive, impeding compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and complicating contract management.
Partnering with IBM, the company began a phased approach to managing critical business documents using the IBM Information Lifecycle Governance solution.
By effectively controlling operational, legal and financial records, the company has streamlined engineering, certification and compliance processes and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in file cabinets and postage.
Phase 1: Compressing the engineering change process from 30 days to one day
The company’s largest subsidiary manufactures parts for the lift trucks and customers often order parts custom-made to fit particular needs. The manufacturing plant must be able to access the change requests quickly in order to deliver parts promptly.
Previously, when the company made an engineering change, it took a picture of the drawing and created a microfilm copy. Then from the microfilm, it made additional copies and sent them out in engineering change notice (ECN) packages all over the world. It took 30 days to make sure all the sites had the change and could put it into production at the same time. Each time an engineering change took place, the postage cost alone was $30,000.
To address the challenge, the company engaged in a phase one content management project that went live in February, 1998. The project involved converting more than 150,000 engineering drawings from microfilm to electronic .tif images and loading them into the IBM FileNet® Content Manager system. This system was integrated with the product data management (PDM) application, which engineers used to initiate drawings. Now making a change to an engineering drawing is as simple as going into a central repository, finding the drawings to be changed, putting an ECN number on them and specifying the date when the change will go into effect. As ECNs are released, the system automatically extracts metadata for the affected drawings; checks to make sure that there are corresponding .tif images in the network drive; and then adds them to the FileNet Content Manager library. When the current date matches the planned implementation date, the latest versions of the drawings are made available online for authorized users at every plant. The system is used by more than 1,200 employees and has grown to include more than 600,000 drawings.
Phase 2: Meeting the 50-year retention challenge
After automating the engineering drawing distribution processes, the subsidiary focused on creating a digitized archive for its product information. Vehicles that last half a century create quite a document storage and distribution challenge. “We’re required by law to keep the Operational Method Sheets (OMS) for 50 years,” says the director of IT operations. “These sheets provide instructions for each assembly operation that takes place at the plants.”
In 2000, the company created a repository that manages the OMS documents and metadata for archival purpose. Each evening, an automated script adds new and revised OMS documents to the IBM Filenet Content Services library. Employees can access the sheets at each plant through the Web, with version control and assured information security, delivering the right information when and where it is needed. The system currently is storing more than 125,000 OMS documents.
Phase 3: Reducing the cost of ISO certification
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification is a critical requirement for the company. Some customers would not buy its products if it were not ISO certified. But it was costing the company quite a bit because the auditors would audit each plant and certify that plant individually.
In 2002, the organization created companywide policies, procedures, work instructions, standards and manuals. These controlled documents and record types were then categorized in a master file index and stored in a FileNet Content Services library. The project team created custom forms to enable anyone in the company to submit documents and workflows for review and approval prior to inclusion in the library. The library continues to grow, with a current count of approximately 12,000 documents.
Employees and auditors can access a document by searching on any of the properties or words inside the document. Search results appear on screen in a tree structure showing the context in which the documents are found. When a document is revised, the managing authorities of all related documents are notified automatically by email.
Phase 4: Streamlining SOX compliance
Seeing the successes that its subsidiary had achieved, the company decided to extend the contract management solution to support Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. “Every month the parent corporation receives financial documents from the subsidiaries, and it wanted one place to store all of these records and supporting files,” says the director of IT operations. “It also needed a secure repository to prevent unauthorized changes to SEC documents.”
As a first step, the company created a FileNet Content Manger repository to store published financial reports. Security rights were automatically applied to each report based on which administrator deposited it into the system.
In 2006, the company engaged an IBM Business Partner to upgrade the system to IBM FileNet Content Manager. The Business Partner built a utility employing IBM FileNet Records Crawler (now IBM Content Collector for File Systems). The utility enables financial administrators in subsidiary organizations working in a Microsoft Windows Explorer environment to drag and drop documents into designated folders. Based on the folder to which they drop a document, the system automatically captures metadata for all instances where document properties are available. In cases where it cannot determine all of the properties, a pop-up dialog box appears, prompting the administrator to fill in missing metadata. Categorized documents are picked up and added to the corporate records repository. “The software uses a template on which we have specified rules, such as who should have access and what type of access. It keeps track of who reviews and approves all reports and keeps the documents securely in the repository for the appropriate length of time,” says the director of IT operations.
Phase 5: Managing contracts and extending control to all physical records
In 2006, the company created a FileNet Content Manager repository to store and manage signed legal contracts worldwide. The interface and approach was similar to that used for the financial records management system.
The company also began a global records management initiative to use the repository for managing all of its physical records. A pilot program was implemented in 2007. Using IBM Content Collector for File Systems and IBM Enterprise Records, the legal department was able to identify the location of every physical document at the company’s offsite disaster recovery facility, Iron Mountain. The system enabled authorized administrators to declare a document as a record and retain it for a specific length of time. At the first-stage implementation of the program, employees emptied approximately 900 file cabinets worth $494,000 by discarding unneeded material.
The company ensures that unneeded documents are discarded on a yearly basis using IBM Lombardi Teamworks® software. The local records analysts run queries to find which physical records are eligible for destruction. They then initiate the disposition process with a simple right-click of the mouse to activate the Lombardi Teamworks workflow process. Ten records at a time are emailed to appropriate record owners who can approve or disapprove the destruction of the record, or specify a new retention period and rationale.
In 2007, this solution was extended company-wide. Currently just about every location is using IBM Information Lifecycle Governance software for managing physical records. Any person can type in keywords and locate active records stored in any facility, down to the level of row, column and shelf information, directing a local records analyst to the exact location needed for the record retrieval.
For more information
To learn more about IBM Information Lifecycle Governance software, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/software/info/itsolutions/content-management
Products and services used
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