For more than seven years Imaging Office Systems (IOS) (Fort Wayne, IN) provided document conversion and equipment maintenance services to Ball State University. IOS' long-term commitment to this account eventually led to a substantial business opportunity.
In the fall of 1997, Ball State approached IOS regarding inefficiencies the school was experiencing within its fundraising department, known as the Foundation. The paper trail resulting from processing thousands of donations was difficult for Ball State to manage. The Foundation had little storage space for paper records, and the university's existing microfiche system for document imaging was becoming inefficient. First, its COM (computer output to microfiche) recorder kept breaking down, and replacement parts and service were costly. Secondly, storing and retrieving microfiche was a time-consuming, manual process. Furthermore, manual entry of pledge information was so cumbersome that temps had to be hired during busy periods just to get the work done.
Know Your Vertical
Through its existing relationship with Ball State, IOS learned a great deal about the specific document types that needed to be processed. The VAR also informed Ball State of systems it had implemented for other large educational institutions such as Notre Dame, Ohio State, Indiana University, and the University of Chicago. "One of the things that made IOS stand out to Ball State was the fact that we were knowledgeable about its world," said John Trimble, C.D.I.A. (certified document imaging architect) and vice president of sales for Imaging Office Systems. "We are experienced in integrating with the host systems and programs that are unique to schools [e.g. SCT's product suite designed to manage the entire higher-education enterprise]. If you can't speak intelligently about this type of integration and show that you've done it, then there is already a big hurdle in front of you."
Take A Macro To Micro Approach
IOS' next job was to convince Ball State that its proposed solution was a good fit not only for the fundraising department, but the entire university. "When Ball State decided to update its imaging technology, it needed to verify that our solution could accommodate the enterprise needs rather than just replace a COM recorder for the Foundation," said Scot Laudicina, C.D.I.A., major accounts for Imaging Office Systems. "By taking a macro approach and then drilling down to the individual application, we were able to help those involved visualize how the solution would work."
IOS recommended a solution that utilized COLD (computer output to laser disc). The system consisted of Legato ApplicationXtender /ERMXtender imaging software and Eyes and Hands FORMS software by ReadSoft (Metairie, LA). The ApplicationXtender/ERMXtender software would enable scanning, online storage, and desktop access to pledges via laser disc. COLD is self-indexing, and a single disc has a capacity of 9 gigabytes capable of holding hundreds of thousands of individual files. The ReadSoft Eyes and Hands FORMS software would allow the university to create bar-coded pledge packets. Data that once needed to be manually entered could now be automatically captured off a bar code.
By replacing its microfiche system with COLD, Ball State eliminated the maintenance, development, and distribution costs associated with the COM recorder. The university had been shelling out nearly $55,000 per year for system upkeep alone. Furthermore, storage and retrieval of scanned documents can now be accomplished with the touch of a button, as opposed to the manual archival and search of thousands of microfiche. Perhaps most impressive is the reduction in keystrokes that are now required to enter contributor information. Keyboard entry time has been reduced by nearly 80%. The temps that were once necessary to perform data entry functions are no longer needed. Due to the success the Foundation has experienced, IOS has been hired to apply its solution incrementally throughout the university. This gradual implementation has earned IOS an additional $200,000 in revenue from Ball State to date. It is anticipated that the entire campus will use the IOS solution within the next five years.