E-Z Mart is a convenience store chain serving the south-central United States. When paper documents began slowing down essential business operations, the company turned to a KnowledgeLake solution. Using KnowledgeLake products with its Microsoft SharePoint intranet, the company has saved thousands of hours in staff time by streamlining core processes such as weekly payroll reporting, human resources tasks, and routine financial activities such as digitizing daily cash receipts.
E-Z Mart is one of the largest privately held convenience store chains in the nation, with more than 300 outlets located across Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. The company, which has more than 2,000 employees, provides customers with food, sundries, and gasoline.
E-Z Mart has experienced rapid growth over the years. This was good for the company but created strains on internal business processes, with an explosion of paper documents creating obstacles for basic business activities.
“Document storage and retrieval were two big issues facing our growing company,” says Jeff Judkins, Systems Administrator for E-Z Mart. “We have external storage facilities, but the environmental conditions were very difficult, with tremendous heat in the summer, cold in the winter, and the always-present risk of water and humidity damaging documents. It made document storage and retrieval challenging-and often times impossible. Yet document retrieval is imperative when facing the legal issues that impact our industry.”
Continuing with physical storage and evergrowing amounts of paper files was no longer a viable option for the company’s growth. Physically storing files was timeconsuming and expensive. In just one example, E-Z Mart collects and processes payroll information every week for its employees-a major undertaking that consumed about 18 hours weekly of staff time and approximately $25,000 annually to ship documents to corporate headquarters. There were also costs associated with manually processing printing paper forms. Judkins says the company’s executives felt they had to find a better solution.
“While one goal was to save money on storage, the larger objectives became finding a way to store documents uniformly, providing greater security for corporate information, and creating a retrieval process that would make documents much more accessible to employees,” Judkins says.
After evaluating a number of enterprise content management solutions, E-Z Mart decided to implement KnowledgeLake software in conjunction with its Microsoft SharePoint intranet. The company deployed KnowledgeLake Capture, which is used with a Fujitsu fi-6140 scanner and several Canon multi-function devices for scanning documents. E-Z Mart also deployed KnowledgeLake Connect, which is used for uploading common office documents, including Microsoft Word and Excel files, directly into SharePoint. The company developed a workflow that streamlines management of core documents. Physical documents are scanned and then loaded into a network directory. From there, the digital documents are sent to KnowledgeLake Capture Server for batch processing. E-Z Mart employees apply metadata to the documents before releasing them into SharePoint. Personnel within specific departments are responsible for indexing their own documents.
A similar process occurs with routine daily and monthly reports, except that metadata is automatically applied from pre-defined settings; users only interact with these documents when retrieving them from SharePoint to view information.
The company’s initial use of the ECM workflows involves scanning only at corporate headquarters, but that is expected to change. “We have plans to implement network-capable scanners at the individual stores,” says Judkins. “That will put some of the responsibility for daily processes on the local-store employees so our corporate personnel can turn their attention to other tasks.”
The deployment of the KnowledgeLake software is helping E-Z Mart with time and cost savings, delivering through a dramatic reduction in paper use and more streamlined processes throughout the enterprise.
Time and Cost Savings
While saving on the costs and logistics of physical storage was a key goal, the company saw related benefits using the KnowledgeLake solution. “We chose KnowledgeLake not just for its features and tight integration with SharePoint, but also because it as the most cost-effective. At the time of purchase, we did not realize that we would also see softcost savings over the course of the following year,” Judkins says. “By using KnowledgeLake to streamline our document storage processes, we have saved thousands of hours on manually intensive storage and retrieval activities. That translates into money saved and staff resources that can be redirected to better use on more valuable activities.”
Dramatic Reduction in Paper Use
Judkins says the KnowledgeLake software is delivering a dramatic reduction in the amount of paper documents produced and managed by the company. “We are progressively making new adjustments to our processes to include electronic document archiving and retrieval,” says Judkins. “We have all 2,000-plus employee files archived in the KnowledgeLake system. This has eliminated the need for manual filing and physical storage space for HR files. And any employee document is right at our finger tips because of the fast retrieval of information that’s now possible on the intranet.”
Addresses Broad Range of Enterprise Tasks
The KnowledgeLake software is used for a broad range of documents. “Our HR department uses KnowledgeLake to manage everything from insurance policies to safety inspections, and the cash management department in accounting uses it to manage bank deposits, daily cash detail reports, and deposit verifications,” says Judkins. “These are just a few examples of how the KnowledgeLake ECM solution has spread quickly to benefit many different aspects of our company’s operations.”