Case Study #1: Hospital Foundation
Our client was the foundation charged with the task of raising funds for their local health centre. Their fundraising techniques were second-to-none, and they were raising much needed money. The problem they faced was getting information out to the supervising physicians who could use the money to purchase new equipment and supplies. Frequently monies would sit unused just because the physicians did not know it was available.
One of the hurdles to overcome in this solution was how distributed the physicians were. They were spread across 3 different campuses, as well as some who wanted access from outside the hospital network altogether. They had access to very diverse hardware, and had dissimilar computer-use capabilities.
With hundreds of groups housing tens of funds each, and physicians each needing permission to view only their own funds, the ability to quickly administer and manage the fund-doctor relationship was paramount. The problem seemed custom-tailored for a web-based solution.
The monthly fund data was made available to us as an export from their General Ledger system. We parsed this information and pulled it into as SQL Server database. We built a custom administration tool to allow managers to assign the proper permissions to each physician, so they would be able to see all their funds, but no more. The fund reports themselves are available to the physicians in a PDF format for cross-platform readability.
The end result is a simple system that allows administrators to upload the new GL export document and change and add physician permissions as necessary. Each physician logs in to find the most recent fund information at their fingertips. With several million dollars changing hands each campaign this custom solution has made the disbursement of raised funds simpler and much more efficient.
Case Study #2: Public Health Unit
There are many Public Community heath units dotting Ontario. They act as the local source of important health-related information to citizens in their area. Our client needed a fast, easy-to-manage web site for the distribution of information. Site performance was another concern as the health unit's coverage area included over a 1/2 million citizens.
We built a custom content management system for the health unit, complete with custom administration tools to allow article to be organized, posted, and archived. We used Microsoft's Indexing Services to give the site internal search capabilities, and SQL Server as the back end. We added custom hit and volume counters so they could track which articles got the most attention over a given time span.
Case Study #3: Accounts Payable
Our client's Account's Payable department handled all accounts payable for 8 different plants throughout Canada and the USA. They had a SAP solution to handle the purchase orders and cutting cheques, but their incoming invoice management was all manual.
Our analysis of their manual process and their requirements documents lead us to design and implement a 3-part solution.
For the employees in the Accounts Payable department itself, we built a custom desktop application to encapsulate the invoice capture and approval process. This application contained the bulk of the workflow and document marshalling. As documents passed through different stages of data entry and validation, they were automatically shunted to the next appropriate step depending on conditions and parameters unique to each document. This decision-making process originated as manual and verbal instructions which were rendered down to concise flowcharts for development
At different stages in the workflow, emails were automatically sent to external employees who had authority to approve payment on invoices. They would log into part 2 of the solution; the web-based document perusal and approval system. Leveraging Microsoft's Active Directory pass-through authentication for this system eliminated the need for any sort of extra administrative tools. Once authenticated, approvers could visually inspect the scanned invoice, and confirm the metadata attached to it. They could then approve or reject the invoice, or open communications with the accounts payable staff to make changes, correct errors, and request updated information. Since invoices were treated as public information, this web application also provided other employees with open access to invoices and their status
Part 3 of this solution was a collection of web-based reporting tools, both public and private. Accrual reports were available to keep each plant's accounting up-to-date, and outstanding issues reports kept them abreast of invoices which required special attention. Internally, there were volume reports used for charge backs and billing, and real-time document flow efficiency reporting allowed for up-to-the-minute reorganization of staffing according to needs.
Many features were added post-implementation, like new reports and additional branches on the workflow tree, as the system's full potential was realized. The efficiencies brought in by the system allowed the Accounts Payable department to take on work from three additional plants without adding to staff. Combined with the $600 million worth of invoices processed in the first year, the system was considered a great success.
Case Study #4: Distribution
A local auto parts distributor came to us with a problem. They were losing hours each day manually flipping through filed invoices. They needed to store an original of the triplicate invoice, as the packing and shipping departments added hand-written notes while working on the invoice.
Our solution was to use their existing MFP copiers as an input device to a commercially available document management system. We built a plug-in for the DMS that would OCR only the invoice number, then look up the rest of the invoice information from their purpose-built billing system
Sometimes the invoice had sustained damage over the course of its travels, so we also built a Quality Control Verification tool so that an operator could manually correct OCR misreads due to poor print quality or invoice damange.
To meet their search requirements, we built a web-based interface to the DMS search that returns both a PDF and the original TIFF for perusal. Six months after implementation, they had scanned over 300 000 invoices, and their searches are now instantaneous.
Case Study #5: Manufacturing
A recent project involved shop floor scrap reporting for an automotive parts manufacturer. They were having problems getting important scrap production numbers in a timely manner. The scrap information was manually filled into pareado sheets, then compiled by the supervisor, then entered into their legacy system in batches. Two of the biggest problems with their existing system were the length of time it took for the information to become available to their operations team, and the number of people who were involved in getting the data sorted and input.
We decided to implement Optical Mark Recognition technology to help solve ther problems. We worked with them to redesign their scrap reporting sheets, now using fill-in bubbles for numeric data entry. This gave us the ability to read the hand-entered data without having to rely on the unpredictable results from currently available hand-writing recognition technology. We built a solution for them that allowed them to use many MFP copier machines across two different plants as the input devices. Supervisors then confirm the sheets, and the scrap and production data are sent directly to their AS/400 based legacy system.
Paper tracking was another large requirement of this solution, to help them meet their Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. The system prints out each sheet with a unique identifying number and a barcode, so the supervisor can instantly know if there are sheets missing. This has lead to much more accurate reporting of scrap and production, as each sheet is accounted for, and no data is missed.
Once they saw how much control they were getting from their scrap system, they decided to expand on the production side to include scheduling tools. From the production department, supervisors get the required production numbers for each part, and schedule operators on shifts a week ahead. With the rapid update of real production numbers, supervisors are able to adjust their shift schedules on the fly, reacting more quickly to the ever-changing conditions in a manufacturing department.