Oakville Hydro sorts out document management issues

Oakville Hydro is planning a company-wide rollout of document management software that has helped its customer service representatives (CSRs) to find documents in seconds rather than hours.

“”We had a repository of PDF bills,

consisting of about 500,000 files,”” said Everett Chubbs, Oakville Hydro’s director of IT, explaining the company’s state of affairs before it eventually opted for the Loris Technologies’ FileNexus solution to index files for easy retrieval. “”Before setting up the software, if you wanted to look for a bill, it would take a couple of hours, especially if you wanted to see, say, the last six bills.””

Simply digitizing files wasn’t enough for Oakville Hydro, according to Chubbs. Far from being dependent on paper folders and metal filing cabinets, the utility, which is responsible for distributing electricity to over 50,000 customers, processing about 30,000 bills every month, and collecting water and wastewater charges on behalf of the Region of Halton, had already converted its documents into an electronic format.

What it had failed to do, however, was to properly manage the files with a scalable indexing/searching solution. Implementing FileNexus, added Chubbs, not only translates into quicker customer service and cost savings, but also greater efficiency and staff productivity.

“”The ease of use from a customer service representatives (CSRs) perspective was one reason we chose it,”” Chubbs said. Oakville Hydro actually tried out a few other solutions before selecting FileNexus. “”It only required about a day of training for CSRs. And there was no upfront money involved.””

FileNexus can be bought outright, licensed on a monthly basis or used through an application service provider. Loris Technologies can provide businesses with the software and support for a monthly fee that, at the end of the first year, can be applied toward the purchase price.

Sal Bevan, president of Loris Technologies, said the reason so many enterprises from different industries have chosen FileNexus — his company counts Sears (credit card data), Deutsche Bank (financial records) and Ford (vehicle registration records) among its customers — is that managing documents is a universal concern.

“”Managing the information, archiving it safely, protecting the contents and then subsequently handling it has always been a very large issue,”” Bevan said. “”Often people look in a number of different places to get that information. Often it’s misfiled; often it’s misplaced. It consumes an enormous amount of staff time as well as commodities in producing it — for example, paper, toner, ink and so on. All of those costs have been looked at as a normal cost of doing business in the past until the advent of document management technologies.””

By getting a document management system, businesses can curtail or eliminate costs associated with paper, toner cartridges, file folders, storage space, filing cabinets and legacy systems. Referring to legacy systems, Bevan said FileNexus “”absorbs”” the information contained in legacy systems, rendering such systems obsolete. Information stored in FileNexus is also saved in an open format so that data can be exported in its native file format or in an industry standard format. What this means is that businesses won’t have to worry about switching from one legacy system — their own — to another — Loris Technologies’.

For many businesses, deciding whether or not to buy a document management system begins and ends with one consideration: customers. Estimating that an average utility has up to 30,000 clients, Jeff Harris, senior systems engineer at Loris Technologies, said document management systems can certainly lead to better customer service.

“”If somebody has made a payment on their hydro account and for whatever reason it gets applied to the wrong account, with FileNexus (correcting the error) is very fast,”” said Harris. “”They just simply punch in either the customer name or the dollar value. They can sort through what payments came in; they can quickly trace it back. Previously they’d have to actually dig through paper files and it could take somebody a day to find a misapplied payment.””

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