Barwon Water tames information flow with EzeScan & Objective

Victoria's Barwon Water has taken the next step into its digital future by enhancing its Objective enterprise content management (ECM) platform with an EzeScan capture and workflow solution.

The ECM rollout has now been completed and rolled out to 420 users utilising the document and records management functionality and scanning middleware from Australia's EzeScan.

A Property Inquiry Application (with Internet frontend) was also implemented in late 2008, and Barwon Water has worked closely with EzeScan’s professional services team to help achieve the maximum utilisation of the scanning/indexing/OCR/upload process.

Since implementing Objective, Barwon Water has found that document flow and duplication has been significantly reduced by the use of a function-based file classification structure and an organisation-wide approach to the availability and sharing of documents.

All incoming correspondence is scanned, registered into Objective and distributed automatically as a reference link via email to the applicable Action Officer.

The ultimate aim is to make Objective act as a single point of access for all customer information.

Ezescan solutions have been implemented for the capture of corporate data from correspondence and corporate documents, using an automated routine that distributes registered images by email reference link to the applicable Action Officer. The body of the email provides directions and a list of all metadata associated with the document.

EzeScan's Fabian De Angelis, senior technical lead on the project, says that Barwon Water has deployed great project management skills to get each individual project in the business up and running successfully.

"From the EzeScan document scanning perspective they made sure that every workflow was streamlined as much as possible to ensure that not one keystroke was wasted of the EzeScan operators time. They are using 100% of our functionality and it is singing along very nicely," he said.

EzeScan is used by Records Staff to scan and register ‘Correspondence – Inward’ objects. At the Barwon Water South Geelong Office, EzeScan is used to register ‘Property Service Document’ objects used within the ‘Property Inquiry Application’ system
EzeScan has also been configured to inherit object metadata from parents, browse Keywords and apply all custom catalogue metadata.

As part of the pre-scanning document preparation process (e.g. sorting, removal of staples, etc.) a single barcode is placed on the front page of every document (single and/or multi-page). The documents are then batched and placed on the scanner’s automatic feeder.

The scanning software uses the barcode as a document separator and automatically populates the barcode field within the ‘Correspondence – Inward’ object. Once scanned the documents are stored in a daily batch folder within an applicable archive box.
The barcode is also useful in locating the original hardcopy document (e.g. if a page is misfed or of poor quality and re-scanning is required) as the user can quote the barcode number and date scanned so that records staff can easily find the document.
By completely separating the scanning task from the registration/indexing process, EzeScan enables concurrent activity with some staff concentrating on high volume scanning tasks whilst other staff are completing the registration/indexing process on separate PCs.

Document workflow

During the indexing process, the EzeScan software has also been configured to allow the cut and paste of image data into fields using OCR (e.g. for subject/title sentences, Installation No’s, Reference detail, etc.), dragging & dropping File numbers and Groups from Objective plus direct access to Keyword lists.

EzeScan has added additional functionality to its core product to support Barwon Water's Objective Keyword Browser requirements. All of the EzeScan workflows are customisable and can be easily imported/exported to other EzeScan PCs.

For its dedicated scanning requirements, Barwon Water has acquired three Fujitsu fi-5750C A3/A4 flatbed scanners, a KIP3000 and one Contex Cougar G600.

All faxes that arrive are received on Toshiba MFPs and automatically distributed via email to records staff to register into Objective and allocate to the applicable Action Officer. Corporate emails are received by Records registered/distributed in the same manner.
For any organisation moving to a digital ECM platform, integrating existing records is a daunting task.

Barwon Water has completed the job of migrating 30,000 engineering drawings, previously versioned and scanned, into Objective.

Over one million images were migrated as part of the implementation of the ‘Property Inquiry Application’ system and there are now over 2.1 million document objects stored in the ECM.

The next stage is to implement the drawings management module and replace the in-house drawings management system with the ECM for storage and version control, then migrate the associated legacy records.

There are a mix of Microsoft operating environments on the Barwon Water intranet, including Windows Terminal Server 2003 (the general operating environment) running the Objective 7.3.4 client.

At the backend, Objective is hosted in a centralised SAN on a Sun Solaris Application Server while Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 (ECM Rendition Server) are also part of the mix, running on HP Servers and Blade Systems including VMWare (ECM Rendition Server).

Mobile workers are able to access documents in the Objective repository via Next G and Windows terminal server.

Via Objective, Barwon Water has been able to reduce the cost of document retrieval and reproduction by ensuring all documentation is securely stored in a single repository.

With the addition of a comprehensive scanning and workflow solution from EzeScan it has now moved to bring all correspondence and corporate documents under the same umbrella for enhanced compliance and manageability.