Picking Up The Pieces

Integrator United Information Systems steps in with COLD/ERM (computer output to laser disk/electronic report management) software when a competitor's installation at Old World Industries, an automotive supply company, falls apart.

Hearts must have been thumping in anticipation. After a three-week delay, Old World Industries, an automotive supply company just outside Chicago, was anticipating the installation of a new COLD system. This type of imaging system eliminates the need for paper document storage, since it writes files to CD-ROM on a regular basis. At Old World Industries, the digitized files would then be available to authorized users through the Novell network. They could be retrieved, faxed, or e-mailed directly from workstations.

The integrators arrived, set up a scanner and workstation, loaded the new software, and fired it up. It failed. The integrators retreated to their offices to figure out what went wrong. Three weeks later, the employees at Old World were drumming their fingers again, waiting for the integrators to return.

On an introductory visit a month earlier, Bruce Ruedig, general manager of United Information Systems (UIS), had warned Old World Industries that it might encounter problems with this installation. UIS is a 14-employee systems integrator with offices in Mundelein and Barrington, IL.

"We were familiar with the product Old World was purchasing, because we had previously been resellers for it. We had encountered significant problems getting it to run," said Ruedig. "I didn't want to foul things up, since I knew Old World had already purchased the product. But in good conscience, I had to tell Old World what to watch for."

UIS Offers A Solution From Digitech Systems, Inc.
How had Ruedig hooked up with Old World in the first place? A former employee of UIS had recently taken a job with Old World's MIS (management information systems) department. That employee shared the information about the purchase of the new COLD system. Ruedig recalled, "I introduced myself to Old World as a system platform expert who could help the company in several ways. One way would have been with imaging, except that Old World had already made its selection."

That friendly visit made UIS the company Old World Industries turned to after the frustration of a failed installation. The previous integrators had uninstalled the failed software and refunded Old World's money. The scanner and workstation remained. Old World still needed a system that could share invoices and attached documents throughout the company's various departments. To make the situation even more critical, the AS/400 server was running out of drive space. Ruedig was confident he could solve the problem with the Digitech Systems, Inc. (Lincoln, NE) DataFlow COLD/ERM solution. "We were under the gun to prove, prior to the installation, that our system would work. This is something we feel is important in imaging and COLD installations. People want to see it work," he stressed.

Using The Right Software For The Job
One month later, Old World had a COLD/ERM system that worked. "We spent one week demonstrating, one week installing, one week training, and then one week monitoring," Ruedig noted. "The accounting and sales departments are the biggest users of the system."

UIS installed three software products, DataFlow, PaperFlow, and PaperVision, developed by Digitech Systems, Inc. (DSI). DataFlow's COLD/ERM engines extract information from a data stream and store it to a database. The PaperFlow product captures document information, and PaperVision retrieves it.

According to Ruedig, Old World now downloads invoices from the AS/400 server daily to the DataFlow product. DataFlow takes a single file and divides it into separate invoices, whether they are a single page or multi-paged. "So they've got the AS/400 invoice data in a presentation fashion along with the supporting paper work," said Ruedig, "That's where PaperFlow software comes in for scanning. And PaperVision, the retrieval software, displays each extracted document and its associated index data from the database. Users can enter a purchase order, invoice, or customer number, pull up the packets, and use them."

Planning Future Enhancements
Looking toward the future, both Old World Industries and United Information Systems realize the potential of DSI's software. Like many companies, Old World Industries decided to focus on one specific problem first. But, it sees the possibility of digitizing accounts payable files, corporate records, and with 150 employees, personnel files. In addition, customer data could be digitized and shared between sales representatives and account managers. For this type of improvement, Old World's MIS department can probably handle the conversion on its own.

UIS hopes to continue offering service to Old World in the future, eventually posting Old World's data on the Internet. "With DSI's PaperVision.net, customers could pull up accounts receivable and payable files," Ruedig noted. "Accounts payable is something that lends itself well to Internet display. The software is secure and gives customers the ability to view their own account information immediately, rather than having to wait several days to receive it through the mail or by fax."

The advantage United Information Systems had over the competition, according to Ruedig, was the Digitech Systems, Inc. software he sells, combined with his company's long history with imaging systems and its computer system platform expertise. He said, "All three of these items went into making this a successful sale."

Ann DeDad