Document management pays off for Coast Guard

Document management pays off for Coast Guard

Rapid changes require a document system that is 'easy to get out of,' not just easy to use

To the Coast Guard's Paul Herold, a document management system is about as exciting as a new file cabinet. But Herold said his new system, Adept, saves his staff a lot of time and the government a lot of money.

'If it's done right, it should be very vanilla,' said the chief of the Civil Engineering Technology Center in Cleveland. 'It's hard to get real excited about it.'

Herold said his office evaluated different document management systems for six years before purchasing Adept software from Synergis Technologies Inc. of Quakertown, Pa.

He paid $715 for each of 273 Coast Guard seats through DLT Solutions Inc. of Herndon, Va., a General Services Administration schedule reseller.

Used for ISO 9000

There are about 500 Synergis users among Coast Guard engineers and those at naval shipyards, Herold said. The shipyard engineers especially need document management, he said, to maintain their International Standards Organization 9000 process quality certifications.

'They bid on jobs as a private company would. They are looking for the most cost-effective way to do business,' he said.

Because such systems are changing rapidly, however, Herold said he decided to go with something that was 'easy to get out of,' not necessarily the easiest to use. He wanted it to be interoperable with existing systems and software.

'We had been keeping track of documents with metadata,' Herold said. Nothing had to be changed to install Adept, which works with Microsoft Windows operating systems.

For client-server or Web use, it requires Windows NT or 2000. Running it in distributed mode, users find documents remotely by linking to document vaults online.

Herold said document management will reduce travel for his engineers, because they can get access from any location and don't have to depend on someone else to find and send them what they need.

Adept 'makes you look at your business process and see where your holes are and how bad your information tracking is,' Herold said. 'This is an easy one to administer.'

Todd Cummings, director of Adept development at Synergis, said the software pulls together information about all the documents into a central CodeBase database from Sequiter Software Inc. of Edmonton, Alberta. CodeBase provides an interface through which users can locate, view and manage the documents.

L. Alfredo Montes, a civil engineer in the Philadelphia District of the Army Corps of Engineers, said he bought Adept to replace a 13-year-old document management system based on MS-DOS.

The old system could copy document files from the server to the user, lock them so no two users could look at the same thing simultaneously, sign out technical drawings and track where a document had been. But Montes said he bought Adept for 61 seats because of its integrated CodeBase database.

His users search the engineering drawings by user names, contract numbers or project names. They can also generate customized reports from the database and quickly search for sensitive or classified material, which makes it easier to remove critical information fast, he said.

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