Imaging & Workflow: A Harmonious Relationship
By combining imaging and ERP (enterprise resource planning) expertise, integrator and software developer Image Integration Systems, Inc. realized $2 million in sales from a multinational conglomerate.
Enterprise customers that have grown through acquisitions often have some challenging needs when it comes to imaging applications. Their users may be widely distributed, and they may be struggling to integrate legacy systems. By combining document capture and imaging expertise with ERP (enterprise resource planning) experience, integrator and software developer Image Integration Systems, Inc. (IIS) (Perrysburg, OH) has been able to secure deals with multinational corporations.
One of IIS's customers operates in 63 countries through its subsidiaries and represents 23.5% of the global music market. When IIS was referred to this customer in 1996, the company had outgrown its homegrown imaging system and was conducting a vendor search for a replacement that would integrate images from its new processing center in Florida with its ERP system. In addition, the company needed to make the solution accessible to users across the world, including major centers in London and the Netherlands.
IIS was referred to this customer by ERP vendor J.D. Edwards (JDE) (Denver), because IIS's DocuSphere product suite is one of only three imaging systems certified by JDE. At one time, IIS was a reseller of a JDE workflow product. The integrator later purchased the technology and continued to develop it. "At that time, we made the decision to develop our own imaging product around that practice rather than sell someone else's," says Brad White, partner at IIS. However, JDE wasn't the only integration challenge. Because of its size, the end user had a number of other systems through which it wished to access scanned images, including line-of-business applications from Infinium Software, Inc. (Hyannis, MA) and SAP (Newtown Square, PA).
"AP [accounts payable] workflow was the initial need," recalls White. "A majority of 20,000 daily invoices entering the shared services center came in coded, but many weren't. Auditing these invoices was also a big issue." In most cases, a voucher for these invoices is manually entered into the ERP system and a cover sheet automatically generated. IIS helped to design the cover sheets, which use bar codes to automate the indexing which links the invoices to specific accounts. "When there is an inquiry, the user can drill down to that transaction and access a specific document right from the line-of-business application," says White.
To capture images and data such as bar codes, DocuSphere is tightly integrated with Ascent Capture software from Kofax Image Products, Inc. (Irvine, CA). "If you want to scan to DocuSphere, you have to use Ascent Capture," says White. "As a software developer, we have to pick and choose our battles, and we don't want the burden of having to write our own capture software." This multinational customer also uses Kofax' Web validation module, which allows for indexing by remote employees who don't have Ascent installed on their desktops.
$100,000 Opportunity Becomes $2 Million Relationship
As IIS's customer continued to grow, so did the scope of the imaging system provided by IIS. "This started out with a $100,000 deal in 1996," says White. "Since then, we have sold $2 million in software, hardware, and services." For instance, the imaging system is now used to manage artist contracts. The music giant is currently scanning all artist contracts into a repository of about 2.5 million documents. These contracts will be available through thin-client access, for which the company has already purchased a license allowing as many as 5,000 users. The company also scans other kinds of contracts and converts them to PDF (portable document format) using Fine Reader from ABBYY Software House (Fremont, CA).
"Our philosophy is that when we walk in, we take care of everything," asserts White. "We have provided much of this customer's imaging hardware, including a number of scanners from Fujitsu Computer Products of America (San Jose, CA). In one room at the processing center, the company runs six Fujitsu M4099Ds [a model that scans 180 images per minute]." Because IIS focuses its resources on software development and its customer base is widely scattered, the integrator offers third party service contracts through vendors such as Versitec (Columbus, OH).
IIS has found that a similar need for distributed document capture and access with ERP integration exists in many large companies. Among its customers are giants such as Shell Oil Company (London and The Hague, Netherlands). However, White points out that smaller companies also need to integrate and streamline content applications, and his company has a strong base in more moderate-size enterprises. In fact, he estimates that an average client is one with about $300 million in sales.