Bantrel banks on digitizing its internal document flow systems

Each year, more than US$100 billion dollars go towards document management, according to a recent International Data Corp. (IDC) report. This includes managing, filing, storing and retrieving huge amounts of paper documents.

For Calgary-based Bantrel Co., finding an effective way to manage this paper content was high on the agenda. Bantrel, an engineering, procurement and construction/construction management service provider, turned to an enterprise document management system (EDMS) to better manage its content.

Analysts say the need for records management is growing as organizations look to cope with increasing amounts of electronic and physical sources of information. Content management, or the storage of content created through workflow and collaboration, has a definite appeal for organizations, especially as government regulation on information availability becomes tighter.

Simon Woodford, EDMS implementation specialist for Bantrel, said the company is using the technology for its document management work processes, policies and procedures. There is a concerted effort to move towards a more paperless environment at Bantrel. The gradual shift was first initiated in the early 1990s, prompted by a major client that was undergoing an EDMS strategy.

“But right now, paper is king,” Woodford said, adding that processing paper costs Bantrel a lot of money. Woodford said the EDMS not only simplifies document retrieval; the content records are also readily available to remote users.

After looking at several vendors, Bantrel decided on Documentum Inc., and its electronic content management platform. The technology allows users to access content management services from within a Web-based interface or standard browser application.

Lubor Ptacek, director of product marketing for Pleasanton, Calif.-based Documentum, said EDMS is geared to organizations looking to convert paper files into electronic files, thus reducing storage and management costs. Content anywhere along a specific lifecycle can be deemed a record and thus made subject to disposition and retention business rules.

The technology manages electronic documents, e-mail and paper files into a records-based system. The technology also enables a common repository for content where a taxonomy for locating and identify data can be created, Ptacek said.

As with introducing any new technology into a business environment, there was a fair amount of culture shock, Woodford said. Simply put, the Documentum software changes the rules by which staff work. In terms of IT integration, an EDMS task force was created at Bantrel to ease the process and to deploy IT system integration across a common information layer.

As with any technology, security is a consideration, Ptacek noted. Specific rules based on enterprise, legal or regulatory requirements can be set to determine whether records should be archived or destroyed.

In certain industries, “you need to be able to know who has done what to a document or article at any given time,” Ptacek said.

The main challenge, however, was the sheer enormity of the culture change. IT is constantly increasing the software’s functionality and maintenance, Woodford said. But he says the measure of success is seen through reduced time searching for critical documents, reduced re-work caused by inaccurate or out-of-date documents, more production with less staff and reduced printing and storage costs.