For years, CeeKay Supply used paper delivery tickets and contracts in operating its welding gas and supply business. To eliminate time-consuming manual processes involved in handling these paper documents, the company turned to a KnowledgeLake enterprise content management solution based on Microsoft SharePoint technology. With the KnowledgeLake products, CeeKay has cut costs, it’s providing better customer service, and it has a solution that is easy for employees to learn and use.
CeeKay Supply is a large independent supplier of industrial gases, welding and cutting equipment, and related supplies based in Saint Louis, Missouri. The company’s seven retail locations in Missouri and Illinois provide a wide range of equipment such as welding machinery, standard and specialty gases, regulators, hoses, and safety supplies. The company also provides training at customer sites and at its headquarters training center.
CeeKay began operations in 1948. During decades of corporate growth, the company’s employees used paper for important business processes, including customer contracts and receipts of tickets signed when supplies were delivered.
In the past few years, keeping track of this paper became a burden on employees at corporate headquarters, which is situated in a 120,000 square building that sits on a six-acre company site.
“We were wasting a lot of staff time going back and forth to filing cabinets to retrieve paper documents,” says David Healzer, Director of Information Services and Technology for CeeKay. “Employees were making anywhere between five and 10 trips a day to locate delivery tickets. We estimate that this activity consumed an average of 2.5 hours of employee time each day. Sometimes, if a customer called to request proof of delivery, it could use up an entire day’s worth of employee time to find a ticket. We also spent a lot of time looking for customer contracts.”
By 2010, Healzer and other company executives decided that the company needed to digitize vital business documents to keep operations efficient.
The company considered several document management systems, including DocuWare and Infonic. However, neither of the solutions offered by these companies provided the combination of efficient scanning of paper documents and tight integration with the company’s Microsoft SharePoint technology.
CeeKay chose to deploy a KnowledgeLake enterprise content management solution that works seamlessly with the company’s SharePoint Services technology.
“We felt that KnowledgeLake’s tight integration with the Microsoft platform would allow us to do many different things going forward,” says Healzer. “Not only would we have an efficient platform for digitizing and capturing our paper documents, but we could expand on the system with features like forms storage and team websites that could be used for storing and finding documents.”
The KnowledgeLake components include KnowledgeLake Capture for SharePoint, which is used to scan and capture documents such as delivery receipts and contracts and then store them as TIFF or PDF files. The company is using KnowledgeLake Imaging for SharePoint, which employs metadata to help employees conduct fast searches for documents. The company is also using KnowledgeLake Connect for SharePoint, which allows common business files-such as Microsoft Office documents-to be uploaded directly into the SharePoint system.
The company uses a Fujitsu fi-6140 scanner, a high-performance machine that can scan monochrome documents at up to 60 pages per minute and color documents at 40 pages per minute.
“The deployment went extremely well,” says Healzer. “We had a few issues, which is to be expected during any deployment, but they were addressed immediately; It only took about one week to get the core functionality up and running.”
With the KnowledgeLake enterprise content management (ECM) solution, CeeKay has been able to streamline and automate important daily businesses processes that in the past consumed valuable employee time. The KnowledgeLake solution has helped the company cut costs and provide better service to customers. It was also easy to train employees.
Cuts Costs, Saves Time
Healzer says that by digitizing documents such as delivery receipts and contracts, the company has been able to reduce a lot of the manual labor that used to be spent searching through filing cabinets. “With the KnowledgeLake ECM solution, we no longer have to spend hours alphabetizing delivery tickets and filing the documents, which used to consume at least a few hours every day,” he says. “It frees up at least 40 to 50 hours a month of staff time that can be redirected to profit-generating activities.”
Provides Better Customer Service
The KnowledgeLake solution helps CeeKay serve its customers more efficiently. “Prior to implementation, the usual expectation was that it could take hours or even a day or more to find the right document when a customer called for proof of delivery,” Healzer says. “Now all of our users can rapidly access the right document using a link in our TECSYS EliteSeries distribution software. This allows us to better serve the customer. Finding the right document no longer entails wild goose chases. The information is there with two clicks of the mouse.”
Eases Employee Training
The technology has proven to be remarkably easy to use, which adds to the overall business value of the KnowledgeLake deployment. “The user interface has a great deal in common with other Microsoft products such as Office,” says Healzer. “This has made training of our users fast and easy. The learning curve is pretty small, allowing us to get employees on to the system quickly, and with minimal need for ongoing support.”