One of the most important strategic initiatives for the University of New Hampshire Office of Human Resources (OHR) was the selection and implementation of a document management system for the archival and storage of personnel records. Prior to implementing Docutron software, OHR had over 4000 personnel files in cabinets at their primary facility in Durham, NH.
Like many organizations, the configuration of so many important files in paper form presented the following concerns:
- No method of file backup in case original files are destroyed in a catastrophic event
- No method of electronic retrieval
- No physical ability to expand beyond current capacity
- No ability to perform required audits of records other than manually
- Inability to merge electronic documents into current record system
- Inability to control chain of custody when physical records are sent off site
- Quality of many paper records degrading over time and through constant handling
- Inability to access records remotely
- Inability to safely store archival personnel documents
The bottom-line for the University of New Hampshire Office of Human Resources was that they were just one accident away from a major crisis regarding their personnel records. They were also totally unprepared to bring their record keeping system into the technology where the majority of personnel records will be electronic documents. An additional benefit of utilizing the Docutron solution is that the space occupied by the file cabinets housing these records takes up considerable space which desperately needed to be reclaimed to provide working areas for staff growth.
The need for a cost effective and viable document management solution was no longer a want but a business necessity. Failure to address the safety and ensure the viability of personnel records would have caused the Office of Human Resources to neglect one of its most important institutional missions.
Over the past two years the UNH Office of Human Resources did exhaustive research into document management solutions with a cross disciplinary team led by Kevin Hinchey. The team developed a very extensive product survey process which helped align the document management product under review with very specific requirements of the OHR as well as other departments interested in a document management solution. This team interviewed and reviewed the products of a variety of vendors who have a document management product.
The majority of the research was done prior to the entry of Docutron into the review process. At that time it was determined that an adequate document management solution was far too expensive for the Office of Human Resources to do alone and needed assistance or else purchase a product in partnership with another department on campus. Neither one of the options above was a practical one so the project was put on hold pending further review.
In the interim it was decided to purchase new file cabinets for the personnel records and relocate them to another part of campus. The new file cabinets under consideration were more space efficient and would allow the ability to reclaim some of the space badly needed for work area. The cost of the cabinets themselves turned out to be almost as much as the other document management vendor solutions.
In February 2003, a new start up document management company called Docutron Systems became aware of the need at UNH HR and presented a product for review. The product relied on a new use of existing technology and met all review criteria. Due diligence was performed on Docutron to assess their long term viability and their ability to handle the scope of the project. Docutron was very impressive in all their product presentations including every request made of them to enhance the final product and meet specifications. After meeting all of the requirements and business review, Docutron presented a proposal that was competitively priced. The final step was to have the product reviewed by members of the University of New Hampshire Computing and Information Services division who would be able to review the hardware/backup data recovery systems and provide any feedback or concerns. While the purpose of the review was not for them to recommend the product, the review did not produce any concerns relative to the product software or hardware.
The UNH document management task force team accepted the proposal from Docutron and recommended that Docutron provide the solution for the Office of Human Resources. It met the entire document management needs for the storage and retrieval of records. The price of the software was such that buying the expensive new file cabinets did not make sense. Having already made significant sales across the northern part of the United States, Docutron represented a safe way for the University of New Hampshire to get the best software product coupled with quality of service and support that was desired.
The plan called for OHR to scan all the personnel records into an electronic form using the Docutron software/hardware and then place the current files in storage. New documents are scanned and placed in storage or migrated electronically to the secure Docutron server. The total solution will be reviewed in 12-18 months. When the product has met all expectations the decision will be made to destroy future documents after they have been scanned and maintain only electronic images from that point forward. Documents in storage at that point will remain in storage indefinitely. Using this plan, the institution would have a complete paper record for all records for 12-18 months after implementation of the product and until such time as there is confidence to destroy documents after they have been placed in electronic form.
Docutron provided UNH with a turn-key document management solution installed at the University's enterprise computing center. The Docutron product filled a significant gap between the lower tier turn-key solutions and high end software only products. It uses existing technology and the hardware meets all of the requirements for the safe storage, retrieval, back up and protection of data. The Office of Human Resources has a service agreement with UNH CIS to house and maintain the file server. All software maintenance and support is provided by Docutron and upgrades happen according to scheduled releases.
The Computing and Information Services Center supports aproximately 20,000 people around the state. They run between 6 to 8 enterprise Dell servers, a storage area network and Oracle for their major applications. Docutron Document Management Software was installed on an HP server and uses RedHat Advanced Server, mySQL and Apache.
The University of New Hampshire Office of Human Resources has been completely satisfied with Docutron's very efficient and cost effective method for document management. Docutron is a company that was started by two New Hampshire natives. Both co-founders have been cited in a variety of publications highlighting their innovative and entrepreneurial approach to document management and industry compliance. They also were mentioned in President Hart's column in the recent UNH Magazine.
Educational institutes are among the most risk averse organizations. The University of New Hampshire Office of Human Resources recognized that Docutron could deliver on all aspects of the solution and meet the technology considerations for enterprise expansion. Docutron has been a worthwhile investment for UNH and represented a safe, smart choice. The company will certainly continue to do well as the need for their easy to use, enterprise quality products expands in higher education and other industries.