Keeping Track of the Process

By David Strom Print this article Print

A growing number of enterprises are turning to collaboration tools to become more productive and competitive.

The portal keeps track of the myriad documents involved in the process and also integrates multiple systems. “We now have a 24-hour turnaround time on all our underwriting, and we have increased our sales volume about 25 percent as a result,” says CIO Pat Hinman. The system has become a competitive advantage for attracting new customers and brokers.“About 18 months ago, we looked into moving to a paperless environment and using images instead of physical documents,” Hinman explains.

“Our then-current software didn’t provide an ability to do that, but we were able to use Xerox Web services to handle the integration. We now have a single location to share and store documents and data—from origination through post-closing.

What helped make the transition smoother was the way Shore rolled out the system to groups of four or five in the underwriting area. “We started with our senior underwriters and had them do the beta test,” Hinman recalls. “Then we collected some feedback, tweaked some things, and pulled in two more groups the next week. This made the new system more desirable because we were holding it back. It turned out to be one of the best migrations I’ve done in 18 years.”

Sharing Knowledge Worldwide

One of the more popular document management tools is Microsoft’s SharePoint. The nonprofit organization Practical Action, based in Bourton on Dunsmore, in the United Kingdom, has 700 staff members spread around the world that use technology to help the world’s poor.

“Since sharing knowledge is an integral part of what we do, we chose SharePoint as a means of sharing documents,” says Bryan Scurfield, the organization’s international IT manager. Practical Action now has 500,000 documents stored in various servers around the globe, and it’s in the process of using MetaVis Technologies to upgrade to the SharePoint 2010 version. 

“We wouldn’t normally want to be on the bleeding edge,” Scurfield acknowledges, “but we wanted to develop a project and funding database, and it needed the newer features—such as centrally managed metadata facilities—so we could use the same consistent terms in our metadata columns.

“It has been difficult to persuade people to do that extra bit of work necessary to save a document in a way that makes it readily findable by other people. You are asking people to put some metadata in and that adds to the time. It helps that we require projects to be completely documented in SharePoint before they get funded.”

This article was originally published on 2011-06-16
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