Remember that paperless society we were promised last century? Still waiting? Now a Connecticut company is moving the dream closer, one industry at a time.
Westbrook Technologies of Branford has developed a software approach that has changed the way a local aircraft company stores certifications, how California courts process transcripts and how an Arizona healthcare organization manages medical records.
"Organizations generate paper and electronic documents in vast quantities," said Einar Haukeland, president and CEO of Westbrook Technologies.
"Employees save them in neat stacks on their desks, filed in alphabetized folders or not in any order at all. They do the same thing with electronic documents, data and images," said Haukeland. "They file them away in folders on computers, often forgetting where they put them."
Haukeland said many companies waste time and lose money trying to find documents for reference, business proposals and audits.
"With manual processing, a document comes in and can only be accessed by one person at each step of the process," said Haukeland. "If there are related documents, such as a purchase order, delivery ticket, invoice or check for payment, it will be archived in different file cabinets."
So instead of rummaging through rows of filing cabinets or hunting for misplaced folders, users can add, route, manage and share single documents or entire files from a central electronic storage location.
For Metals Testing Co. in South Windsor, document management software is more than just a convenient method of doing business. It's the only way it can do business without shelling out big bucks for warehouse space.
The technology firm inspects and tests commercial and military aircraft, automotive and aerospace parts. The company is required to store Federal Aviation Administration certifications for aircraft parts indefinitely.
Robert Delisle, president of Metals Testing Co., said the firm would have to rent warehouse space if it didn't have an electronic repository.
Since Standard Oil of Connecticut Inc. implemented its paperless data storage system a few years back, the Bridgeport-based energy company has become a model for efficiency.
Standard Oil's three divisions — Standard Petroleum, Standard Security and Standard Insurance — rely on document management software and web-based system to simplify daily tasks and improve services for more than 38,000 customers throughout the state.
Westbrook Technologies introduced its Fortis system to Standard Oil to help rid the utility company of a cumbersome paper storage system that included two large warehouses and help streamline operations.
The utility company didn't give up its warehouse space though. Instead of storing pulp, the facility is used to house extra materials and replacement parts.
Going paperless paid off for the utility company. Using the web-based Fortis system, Standard Oil has been able to control expenses, provide accurate and real-time account information to its technicians.
For a company that handles 30-plus customer billing discrepancies per day and makes 170,000 annual deliveries, Fortis can call up the proper documents in minutes, as opposed to the old system that took days, said Einar Haukeland, president and CEO of Westbrook Technologies.
Standard Oil uses Fortis to scan paper documents such as bills, service receipts and customer complaints and manages information on nearly 25,000 payments submitted to 11,000 company vendors.
Founded in 1991, Westbrook Technologies has made great strides in helping companies streamline office operations and improve productivity. Companies pay a licensing fee, which can start around $1,000 per user.
The company declined to talk more about fees or disclose revenues, citing competitive concerns. Haukeland said business is brisk again following the gloomy recession that started in 2008.
"The first quarter of 2012 was our best quarter in three years," said Haukeland. "We expect it to keep improving. We tightened our belts during the recession like everyone else did and it was tough. But I think it's going to be a positive year with a lot of activity."
The company's web-based services have helped more than 14,000 clients in the healthcare, finance, law, real estate, education and government industries capture, index and retrieve documents in seconds through full search capabilities.
The California court system started using the Fortis system this year to help it reduce the time it takes to file and process an appeal. The company's software automatically compiles and prepares an appeal from the original case file and then electronically transmits it to the appropriate court.
Haukeland says his software saves the courts time and money by reducing paper consumption, storage costs and shipping fees in forwarding transcripts to the reviewing court. It also provides easy public access to volumes of court records.
Jon Langdon, director of research and development at Westbrook, said businesses rely on the software to provide their customers with self-serve information portals.
For example, the Department of Veteran Affairs allows active duty and retired service members to access their health records with a click of a mouse.
"During the economic recession, we saw a common theme across all industries, which was do more with less," said Langdon. "Companies needed to become more efficient and productive. As we see a positive shift in the economy, companies are maintaining and expanding these initiatives."
Langdon said that will help fuel Westbrook's vision as it grows.
Westbrook officials plan to focus on solutions to help clients meet compliance requirements, reduce paper processing time and enable self-serve customer information portals.
Haukeland expects online document storage services and workflow automation tools to gain traction in the marketplace, especially in the healthcare sector where looming federal mandates and multimillion dollar incentive packages are making the medical industry switch to electronic record-keeping.
Executives at Banner Health, one of the largest not-for-profit medical systems in the country, expect to shave as much as $49,000 in paper costs over the next five years using Westbrook's Fortis system.
Banner Health is headquartered in Arizona and has 34 hospitals and medical facilities and employs more than 35,000 people. Officials say it saves more than $33,000 per month using online scanning services, workflow automation tools and electronic forms to transmit information safely and quickly.
At Banner Hospital's clinical care operations, officials redirected seven full-time employees from data entry to other work.
And at UMR, a UnitedHealthCare Services Inc. company, officials reduced turnaround time for processing claim documents from 30 days to six days and drastically improved information sharing between departments, making private health more secure to meet HIPAA regulations, said Haukeland.