Much is made about handling the plethora of documents that have to do with real estate, finances, or health. But many other industries face their own pains with documentation, especially high-tech or manufacturing design. Not only do these entities need to handle multiple pieces of information, but they, too, are regulated like the financial and healthcare industries. HVVi Semiconductors, a start-up in the semiconductor space, has felt this pain and turned to a hosted document solution.
HVVi was formed three years ago, based on a new product its founders invented. The product, which is out in beta form to HVVi's customers, is the latest innovation in the industry in a decade. Therefore, it requires a lot of paper to test, prove, and become certified. "When designing a new product, you deal with drawings, specs, test data, engineering forms, patent data, etc.," says George Penney, IT manager at HVVi. "It was a huge amount of documents to keep up with." Because most of the documents HVVi works with are electronic, the company didn't face the problem of handling paper. However, it was burdened with challenges accessing electronic documents: Files were stored on proprietary computers or even off-site when HVVi worked with partners (i.e. university research labs). "If we wanted to use a file for a project, we had to sit and think, 'who might have that?' and then track the person down," says Penney. "The files could be e-mailed, but there was a security risk to do that, given that most files contained intellectual property [IP]." In the instance of a university research lab HVVi worked with, the university would send files over on a physical ZIP drive.
ON-DEMAND CONTENT MANAGEMENT ELIMINATES AN IT INVESTMENT
The company needed to share its documents within and outside the enterprise, so it began looking for a content management and collaboration solution. One of HVVi's top priorities in looking for the solution was that it had strong, yet customizable security. "We needed to give people access to certain folders to place their files in, but we didn't want them to be able to see the other files there," says Penney. "Also, we might be working with one group now, and a different one later with different security requirements, which requires a solution that can be easily modified." An additional requirement, which many companies face, was price. As a start-up, HVVi didn't have a ton of capital — what it did have was devoted to product development. As the company looked at solutions, a content management solution from Xythos Software, Inc. had the capabilities HVVi wanted, but its core product required too much investment and IT capabilities. "Shortly after we began looking, Xythos came out with an on-demand [i.e. hosted] product for smaller companies like us," says Penney. "With a hosted solution, you don't need a huge IT staff or to purchase additional servers."
HVVi purchased Xythos on Demand and installed it in an hour. Then, Penney went in and created folders, set access rules and security measures, and uploaded HVVi's files into the system. "The entire process took about a day," he says. "The biggest challenge was user adoption and getting people accustomed to using the program. But if you can navigate through Windows, you can figure this out."
With the content management solution in place, all of HVVi's product, R&D, and other IP documents can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. The solution also creates an automatic revision path, which is vital for auditing purposes, for which HVVi is preparing. "In the manufacturing and engineering industries, you need to be ISO 9000-compliant to get your product out in the market," says Penney. "That involves having organized documents and auditable procedures. With the on-demand content management solution, we will soon be compliant."