CVR Associates delivers management and technical services to public housing agencies, a role that includes dealing with mountains of paper-based forms. The firm decided to reduce the paper burden by deploying a KnowledgeLake enterprise content management solution on top of Microsoft SharePoint. The result is much faster searches for information, a smoother system for integrating and finding new information, and enhanced customer service.
CVR Associates is a management consulting firm that provides technical assistance and program management services to public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs. Founded in 1995, the company’s employees include attorneys, CPAs, MBAs, architects, and engineers.
The company operates out of three offices, including its Tampa, Florida headquarters; the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, Georgia; and in White Plains, New York. Recently, a project for clients in White Plains led CVR to investigate enterprise content management (ECM) solutions for handling large volumes of paper documents.
“We were tasked with overseeing operations for a housing authority, and the job included tracking more than 1.5 million documents that had been accumulated over the years in the form of client files,” says Patrick Markarian, Information Systems Manager for CVR. “For years we knew that at some point we’d need to switch to a digital document system. With this project we reached a tipping point. The number of paper files were slowing our work processes, and we were balancing physical work areas with file cabinet space.”
CVR evaluated several ECM solutions and considered creating its own custom ECM platform. “We decided to go for a proven ECM solution that delivered the important benefits we needed for our business operations, including easier, faster access to documents and getting away from using file cabinets,” Markarian says. “That led us to deploy KnowledgeLake software running on top of Microsoft SharePoint.”
CVR already had experience with hosting, supporting, and customizing SharePoint. KnowledgeLake’s product line offered easy integration into an existing SharePoint 2013 system that could easily be scaled out to handle large volumes of document traffic.
The company deployed KnowledgeLake Imaging for SharePoint, which is used for searching, viewing, routing, and annotating documents, and KnowledgeLake Capture for SharePoint, used for indexing documents. It took CVR about three months from design to full implementation of the solution, which is used by 45 managers and consultants.
The workflow starts with document scans that are sent automatically to a dedicated folder in each user’s My Document directory. A custom application operating on 15-minute intervals views all users’ My Document folders. Any documents smaller than 25MB are automatically converted to TIFF files. Files exceeding 25MB are noted in a SQL Server audit log; this file size cap was established to weed out documents sent by scanners with unapproved default settings that could create excessively large files. At the end of each day, a report runs against the database table, then the oversized files are distributed to a recipient group for manual evaluation.
All files are uploaded to a corresponding FTP folder hosted in the CVR datacenter, where KnowledgeLake Capture Server uses business rules to add barcodes and separator sheets to the documents. After indexing, files are released to Microsoft SharePoint.
With the KnowledgeLake ECM solution running on Microsoft SharePoint, CVR employees can now find documents much faster. New documents are more easily integrated into the SharePoint libraries, and overall businesses processes are enhanced.
Fast, efficient document searches
The KnowledgeLake ECM solution has minimized the time CVR employees spend searching through folders for paper documents.
“We use a KnowledgeLake web part page that displays search and results fields specified on our configured KnowledgeLake Search SharePoint site,” Markarian says. “It works exactly as intended. People can search for documents by any metric, then group, sort, and filter using the interactive web part search tool, with very quick results.”
The solution helps staff members work much faster and more efficiently than before.
“Most of our paper handling has occurred during a yearly recertification process,” he says. “With the KnowledgeLake solution and quick access to documents on SharePoint, we’re saving many hundreds of man hours each year.”
Quick integration of new documents into system
The KnowledgeLake solution enables quick integration of new documents into the SharePoint repository.
“With SharePoint, we can automatically insert documents into the appropriate folders,” says Markarian. He adds that there are several business benefits.
“Within several of our tracking tools, we can generate client letters pre-populated on an as-needed basis. By clicking one button they can print a letter, and a digital version of the letter also goes into our SharePoint site without any further user input. The document is filed in the content type’s corresponding SharePoint Document Library. That helps drive content type searches, and can also populate a client’s information in the corresponding columns, which drives index data searches.”
Enhanced business processes
Markarian notes that the new ECM solution enhances business processes.
“With the KnowledgeLake ECM solution, we have the ability to more easily keep track of client files, implement workflows where time-sensitive documents are involved, and automate many of our processes that in the past took hours or days to complete,” he says. “We also expect to free up about 1,000 square feet of office space for use by employees instead of file cabinets.”