Equitable Life revamps ECM before Quebec move

Waterloo, Ont.-based Equitable Life of Canada changed its enterprise document management system to better handle multilingual documents in its Quebec operations.The insurance firm said its previous document management system, which has been in operation for the last seven years, was “very cumbersome” in handling French processing documents. The company expanded into Quebec for the first time ever last year and decided to make the switch to HP Co.’s Exstream product line to help facilitate the move.

Cam Crosbie, vice-president and chief information officer of Equitable Life of Canada, said processing time for documents in both English and French was the biggest factor in choosing HP. To make matters easier, he said the vendor of its previous system — which the company would not disclose —announced it was entering end-of-life support just prior to the decision to enter the province.

“On the previous system, 25,000 documents would take us up to 24 hours to process,” said Crosbie.

After narrowing down its vendor selection process to three companies, Crosbie said it held a “bake-off” over a three week period. Every week, a new vendor would come into the Equitable Life offices to test the processing time on 25,000 insurance statements.

HP’s Exstream system generated the statements, which included policy holder contracts, statements and letters, in approximately 10 minutes, the company said. The average decrease in document processing time across the board, Equitable Life said, was about 500 per cent.

Mike Kaminski, an account manager with HP Exstream who worked closely on the Equitable Life project, said the fact that the system was able to generate fast processing times regardless of the document language, helped his company win the contract.

For organizations heading into their own enterprise document management upgrades, Crosbie advised IT shops to follow its “bake-off” approach and actually get vendors on-site to test your requirements.

“It adds a little bit more time to your selection process, but at the end of the day, you know exactly what you’re getting,” he said, adding that it is important to use identical machines in any comparison tests.

According to a recent Forrester research report on enterprise content management suites, EMC Corp., IBM Corp., Oracle Corp. and Open Text Corp. are currently identified as the leading players in the market.

The report, which was conduct about a year ago, lists HP and Hyland Software as “strong performers” and “competitive alternatives” to EMC and IBM in document management. However, the report is critical of both companies for a lack of “strong support” for content in areas such as Web content management, document output management, and digital asset management.

The conclusions in the report were derived from vendor surveys conducted by Forrester, product demos and two customer reference calls per vendor.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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