Capricorn finds the imaging parts

Capricorn finds the imaging parts

Society scans and manages its physical membership documents

Capricorns are careful and cautious people, but not without ambition, according to the horoscopes, and the same can be said of the imaging and document management implementation at the Capricorn Society in Perth. It was careful, caution was used and it was an ambitious, but ultimately successful project.

Based in Perth, the Capricorn Society is an organisation comprising of independent car repair companies and service stations. The Capricorn Society was formed in 1975 when a group of service station owners realised that they would be a stronger market force if they combined their power as one. Today the organisation has over 6,500 members and has spread its wings to include garages across Australia, as well as southern hemisphere partners in South Africa and New Zealand. Reported annual turn over is $300 million.

”Our vision was to have one system which would contain all our members’ information and for that information to be available to all our databases and all our users,” said Jo Parker, IT manager for the Capricorn Society. Information at the society was still paper based. Anytime a Capricorn Society worker needed to check the correspondences, reconciliations or a credit check they had to go to the central filing area and access the physical document. This was time consuming and taking up increasingly large amounts of space, or documents had to be stored off-site.

Paper documents meant that the Capricorn Society was not easily able to report or analyse its member information. Thus the society decided to convert its physical documents into electronic records.

”Our interstate and overseas representatives had to be able access that information via the Web, because dialling in to Perth every time they wanted to know something would be far too costly,” Ms Parker said.

The Capricorn Society selected the Hummingbird DM system and an integrated computer output to laser disk (COLD) solution with ScanIT scanning and annotation. The system was installed at their Perth headquarters and scanning was done by a local imaging bureau.


To aid the move to electronic documents, the Capricorn Society came up with an innovative solution to making the cultural change. Four staff were employed to prepare the documents for scanning. Each society member’s file was assessed with non-relevant material being removed, the documents in the files were then labelled and bar coded.”When we were looking at scanning the documents, we realised that if they were bar coded it would save a lot of time in indexing them,” Ms Parker said. The Capricorn Society needed a bar code solution for its statements, so decided to invest in a bar code producing software application and printed the codes onto stickers for indexing.

To ensure that the society staff felt they were still in control, a shift system for designing and helping with the implementation was set up.

”We identified key staff within each area of operation and included them in the early selection and design stage and in implementation, so that there would be a feeling among employees that this was ‘their system’,” Ms Parker said. “Having decided what we wanted from the solution, we assigned a project leader to evaluate different products and implement the chosen system. The bar coding saved us a lot of work, because we had thought we would have to go through and individually file each document against its correct member once it had been uploaded. This decision saved us many months of post roll-out work,” she added.

The Capricorn Society had scanned documents before, but only on an ad-hoc basis when they were required by a member.

”We found that for the most part this was too time consuming and people didn’t do it, they would fax documents instead - at considerably higher expense,” she said.

The cultural change to electronic documents, which is often difficult, has gone well Ms Parker reports. “It’s been a big learning curve for people to start living without paper, and while some staff were a little scared of the new system, they were still keen to use it. Another immediate benefit that has saved employees a lot of time is the ability to email documents directly from Hummingbird DM.”

With the system installed and running, the Capricorn Society has been able to begin analysing itself and make improvements to the way it operates.

”Previous, all supplier reconciliations were done in Excel, printed to hard copy and then the hard copy was added to the supplier’s file. No electronic copy was even kept. It was impossible to get a full supplier history without going through a whole pile of papers. Now it is all there on the screen,” Ms Parker said, adding, “Instead of facing a wall of documents, it’s now simply a matter of using the document management solution to collate member information.”