Don't get lost in the details . . .

    "Put a major effort into carefully planning and specifying the exact requirements up front. This keeps the customization focused on the overall goal without getting lost in the details."

    Kendal Megarity
    Central Office Records Administrator
    New Brunswick Telephone Co.

Since 1888, NBTel (the New Brunswick Telephone Co. - of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, has been providing reliable telephone services to its customers. An acknowledged leader in telecommunications, NBTel is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aliant (TSE: AIT). NBTel provides a full-range of services including local and long-distance telephone, wireless, Internet, e-commerce, interactive multimedia, data and managed network services, and information technology solutions. We asked Kendal Megarity, Central Office Records Administrator for NBTel, to describe the original system they were using versus the AutoEDMS system they have implemented in the past year.

"The pace of new telecom equipment additions and changes was generating a document correction backlog. By late 1997, it had increased to the point that provisioners (equipment specification specialists) and CAD operators could not keep up. A review of procedures was performed to highlight where NBTel improvements could be realized.

The Legacy System

We had a legacy Unix document management system and server accessible only by the CAD operators. It was text-only and used Sun terminals or PC terminal emulation. Our CAD operators were on networked Windows PC's. The cost of the terminals made remote sites or multiple seats unfeasible.  The legacy system did not control Drafting Work Orders, Canceled or Supplier Drawings, it was also missing capabilities such as fuzzy searches, check-in/check-out, intelligent filenaming, revision control, audit trails, and other features that would save time and eliminate document conflicts.

With 9000+ drawings still in paper format, each CAD or paper drawing after being modified was blue printed (to send out to remote sites) and filmed for aperture card - allowing provisioners to view and print any drawing. Too much time was needed just to identify, load, print, and update the drawings or the database for a project.

It was time to put in an up-to-date document management system.

The Recommendation

While on-site installing our networked AutoCAD upgrades, I asked CAD/CAM Systems Ltd. technician, Michel Beaulieu, if he had any recommendations. For Michel the answer was short - AutoEDMS. He has worked for value added reseller CAD/CAM Systems Ltd. (email: of Fredericton, New Brunswick, since 1986 and has witnessed and implemented similar requirements in many offices. When asked to elaborate, Michel said he especially recommended AutoEDMS for its flexibility to adapt and be customized to specific end user requirements and work processes - something critical for NBTel. He also recommended it for its off-the-shelf document management features.

The Implementation

Within days, a formal presentation on AutoEDMS was organized for a group of managers, provisioners, and CAD operators. Since it looked promising to the group, an on-site requirements evaluation and detailed proposal was ordered. Soon a project proposal defining a three phase customization based on AutoEDMS was in hand. Shortly thereafter work started on the first phase. Phase 1 was completed the first of 1999. As of October 1999, the second phase was complete and we're very pleased with our AutoEDMS system. It is installed on every provisioner and CAD operator's Desktop. We have a total of 10 AutoEDMS licenses floating between 45 people giving them access to drawings created by NBTel and one of its suppliers. Some of the users are equipment installers in remote parts of New Brunswick, so access to AutoEDMS is provided over our Wide Area Network.

The Benefits

We've recovered 850 sq. ft. of floor space by scanning and removing the aperture cards and the associated equipment. AutoEDMS' ability to view and markup raster files means we don't need to convert them to vector - CADOverlay is used to edit these files from within AutoCAD.

Phase 2 of our AutoEDMS deployment implemented full control of our drafting work orders associated with our projects. Provisioners and installers use these orders to markup documents and submit the work to the drafting department. The Workflow and Markup tools in AutoEDMS were essential to this process.

This is just the start of our use of AutoEDMS. Other NBTel groups have been watching us closely and have joined our training classes as we've phased in our AutoEDMS applications. They can clearly see the potential for applying it in their areas and how they can effectively integrate, share, and control the information and data that we all use in common. AutoEDMS could easily support users across the entire company.

Words of Advice

The best advice I can give to others implementing a document management system is: put a major effort into carefully planning and specifying the exact requirements up front. This keeps the customization focused on the overall goal without getting lost in the details. Another important point is to deploy in phases, especially where the work process is complicated, like at NBTel. By doing a pilot, deploying, and then following with sequential phases of customization, the users provide valuable feedback to the developers on how to improve the process. Another important item is to get a good product like AutoEDMS and a dealer with application development experience like CAD/CAM Systems Ltd. There isn't anything that can substitute for experience when it comes to developing a document management system."



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