FileNet: Something Old, Something NewBy Baselinemag | Posted 2004-11-01 Email Print
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FileNet's software appeals to customers that need to handle both paper and digital forms, though its older products can be tough to upgrade.
Sometimes a foot in the past helps a company spring into new markets. That's true for 22-year-old FileNet, whose business process management offerings are descendants of its original software products for scanning and storing paper documents.
Toyota Financial Services (TFS) Canada needed to incorporate an existing paper-based process to help it handle about 110,000 auto loans and leases a year. This February, the company began rolling out a system based on FileNet's eForms to process applications from dealers; now, 90% of its contracts are submitted electronically.
One reason it picked FileNet was that "FileNet enabled us to use existing fax machines that linked into the whole electronic process," says Larry Baldesarra, senior vice president at TFS Canada. As for working with the company, he says, "In any project like this, there are always ups and downs," but FileNet "understood their product well enough to help us solve the business problem."
Other customers, though, have felt utterly ignored by the company. In 2000, AAA Missouri, a regional automobile association serving six Midwest states, deployed FileNet's Acenza workflow software to help distribute insurance claims. About a year ago, FileNet discontinued selling and developing that product; Bob Schreiber, AAA Missouri's vice president of insurance, says the company didn't notify him. "FileNet tends to play with the big boys," he says. "We always felt they weren't really interested in us." A FileNet spokesman confirms that the Acenza product was phased out but claims the company informed all customers.
Even happy customers note that FileNet's older software can be tough to upgrade. The Los Angeles County Employee Retirement Association (LACERA) has used FileNet's Visual Workflow software since 1997 to automate about a dozen processes related to handling member inquiries, such as estimating retirement benefits.
The company is now contemplating upgrading to FileNet's newer Business Process Managerbut the move will be cumbersome, says Robert Whitten, LACERA's chief technology officer. "It's almost like a brand-new product," he says. "All the things we customized with the previous product will have to be changed." FileNet acknowledges that migrating from its older workflow software is "challenging" but says the more recent eProcess is much easier to upgrade.
Still, says Whitten, "FileNet has proved to be a reliable partner, so we'd be reluctant to bail."
Filenet operating results*
* Fiscal year ends Dec. 31; YTD reflects first six months
Source: company reports
Total assets - $434.09M
Stockholders' equity - $313.41M
Cash and equivalents - $281.96M
Long-term debt - None
Shares outstanding - 41.10M
Market value, 11/1 - $1.09B
** As of June 30, 2004, except as noted
Includes short-term investments