Understanding Workflow

By David Strom Print this article Print

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

Understanding Workflow

Part of any document management system implementation involves understanding the workflows—the why, where and when particular documents are needed. That’s what Scosche Industries, based in Oxnard, Calif., discovered when it wanted to do a better job supporting its several thousand aftermarket car-audio installers.

“We wanted to show someone how to take apart a car door and install a speaker there, and give them the information right at the moment they were doing the installation,” says Jack DeBiasio, a senior product manager at Scosche. “We wanted to give our dealers an easier way to get information from us.

Scosche turned to an application developed with Radish Systems that allows its installers to receive the schematic diagrams while they are on a voice call with a support representative.

“The experience has been good so far,” says DeBiasio. “One of the [good] things about the iPhone is that you can pinch and zoom into the picture. You can get to where you need to be and see a more detailed view. “We see this as a way to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Radish ChoiceView makes it easy for live agents to share information in real time with our customers.”

Working Together in Real Time

One of the hardest parts about collaboration is being able to connect people in different cities who want to work together on a project in real time. A number of “presence-aware” applications are available for this purpose, ranging from free instant messaging tools, such as AOL IM and Skype, to more sophisticated ones that tie into a company’s phone and email systems.

This is how SmithAmundsen, a midsize law firm with headquarters in Chicago, deployed collaboration. It needed to replace its old phone system and wanted to incorporate collaboration tools to help its lawyers be more productive.

SmithAmundsen chose Cisco IP phones and other Cisco software tools, such as WebEx video and desktop conferencing. The firm uses the presence feature as a way for lawyers to find subject-matter experts in the office who are available for quick consultations, as well as to track down a particular attorney when clients call the main switchboard.

CIO Randall Kalik explains: “The motivation was to make our business more efficient in supporting our clients. Attorneys can do three things at once: look up a client’s number, engage in a text chat and be on a conference call. They can transfer in mid-call between their office and their cell phone to keep talking, thus projecting the image of being in their office when they are on the road or working from home.”

Another aspect of remote collaboration involves screen-sharing and desktop video-conferencing tools. That’s the route taken by Andrea Prigot, the president of Amicus Consulting, based in Pelham Manor, N.Y., which sells and supports law-office automation products.

“We have to demonstrate and then install and configure these tools,” says Prigot, “and we use Citrix GoTo tools extensively.” Using Citrix, she says, cuts down on the number of emails and makes support easier. 

Clearly, collaboration tools offer organizations productivity and business benefits.

This article was originally published on 2011-06-16
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.