Navy stands by its librarians

Having nontechnical librarians work with the multilevel administration tools in
Universal Systems Inc.'s Documetrix was a large part of the program's appeal.


"For a lot of people doing some kind of manual library function now, the document
management tool will be a new way of doing their job," said Scott Williams,
information management project coordinator for the center's Aircraft Division at Patuxent
River, Md.


When Universal Systems of Chantilly, Va., shrink-wrapped the Documetrix workflow and
document management software last year, it signed enterprise licensing deals with the
Defense Logistics Agency, Naval Supply Command Center and Naval Air Warfare Center
Aircraft Division.


In the next few months, the company will integrate the Documetrix tools with its Staff
Action correspondence management software. Staff Action is a separate application the
company developed during its work for civilian agencies.


USI's document and workflow products originated in early work done for the Defense
Department's Joint Engineering Data Management Information Control System. USI officials
said the company earns half of its revenues from government sales.


Its Microsoft Windows products work with most client-server networks, relational
databases, text-search engines and image scanners in government offices. This
platform-independent strategy follows wherever Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates goes,
said Brooke Smith, business development director for USI.


Documetrix has a document management server and client, plus a workflow builder, server
and client. Staff Action, an application-specific package, runs on top of the document
management and workflow software, Smith said.


The workflow and document management components require some extra work to set up and
run. "You're probably looking at a 10 percent increase in the workload of the network
administrative team," Smith said.


Documetrix manages documents by production or ad hoc workflow processes. Production
processes are more rigid than ad hoc processes, but both have their uses. The Naval
Research Laboratory in Washington, for example, has used the production workflow tools to
set up a semiautomated system of approvals for releasing research data, Smith said.


Documetrix's graphical drag-and-drop tools can divide work activities into what are
called user, device, encapsulation, rendezvous and broadcast tasks.


Broadcast tasks send the same document to multiple offices for simultaneous review,
which is required for engineering change proposals federal employees often handle.
Rendezvous tasks collect and forward the documents. Encapsulation tasks give each
department a free hand to create subtasks or subflows.


Organizations with prior experience in business process re-engineering are more
successful with production workflow tools than those with no experience, said James
Fraley, USI systems integration director.


"Customers who've gone through IDEF modeling or some kind of modeling process
understand the inputs and outputs," he said.


USI currently is developing an interface to BPR tools from Meta Software Corp. of
Cambridge, Mass., and others.


Documetrix supports 68 different document formats. Without help from the system
administrator, users can create their own "meta" or index data for the different
types.


Fraley said some government organizations make the document management system the
gatekeeper for their World Wide Web sites, using dynamic Hypertext Markup Language or
publishing the index data and uniform resource locator to a database, which then refreshes
the Web pages.


"We've had a number of customers who were unhappy about some of the documents
placed on their [sites] prior to approvals," he said. Documetrix can stop such
postings.


Documetrix WorkManager can be bought separately or as part of the imaging and document
management package with production and ad hoc workflow. It costs $46,797 for 20 concurrent
users on General Services Administration schedule contracts.


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