Building a Business Case for Imaging/Document Management at the University of Miami

by Freddie L. Robinson

Copyright 1993 CAUSE. From _CAUSE/EFFECT_ Volume 16, Number 4, Winter
1993. Permission to copy or disseminate all or part of this material is
granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for
commercial advantage, the CAUSE copyright and its date appear, and
notice is given that copying is by permission of CAUSE, the association
for managing and using information resources in higher education. To
disseminate otherwise, or to republish, requires written permission. For
further information, contact Julia Rudy at CAUSE, 4840 Pearl East
Circle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301 USA; 303-939-0308;

                        by Freddie L. Robinson

ABSTRACT: The Information Resources department at the University of
Miami recently garnered executive approval to implement a centralized
imaging/document management project that will enable electronic document
storage, retrieval, and work-flow management in fifteen University
units, to achieve cost savings and improve traditional ways of doing
business. This article describes the benefits of imaging/document
management, the rationale for choosing a centralized solution, and the
project's three-phase plan for departmental implementations.

On Monday, August 24, 1992, at 5:00 a.m., the South Florida area felt
the first blows of what was to become the worst natural disaster in
the history of this country. Hurricane Andrew, with sustained winds of
160 mph, caught South Florida by surprise and devastated the entire
area, indiscriminately destroying homes and businesses. When residents
finally left the safety of their homes and shelters, they were faced
with the problems of rebuilding not only their houses, but their
lives. Yet what happened to many of the businesses in the community
was even more devastating. Upon returning to their offices, many
business owners found that their life-blood, their business
documentation, was gone, either blown away or water-soaked beyond

The University of Miami fared better than most businesses, but
was not immune to some minor loss of business documents. A few
departments were affected by water intrusion as a direct result of
physical building damage. This comparatively minor inconvenience
brought us to the realization that we were unprepared for a major
disaster. Suddenly, everyone was thinking about disaster and business
recovery and how to protect our business documents and files.

Fortunately, the Information Resources department, which is
primarily responsible for computing at the University, was in the
final stages of evaluating imaging/document management systems. This
project had been started three years earlier, with the recognition
that paper was an extremely costly means of communicating ideas and
storing information. We had also realized that paper was everywhere
around us--file drawers and storage rooms filled to capacity, with
more on the way. Faced with a scarcity of floor space, increasing
labor costs, and requirements for faster, more reliable dissemination
and sharing of information, we had decided to investigate alternative
methods of storage, retrieval, and transmission of documents--in an
image of their original form.


The University of Miami's main campus is located in a residential
neighborhood in Coral Gables. The campus, which is bordered on three
sides by homes and on the fourth side by a major thoroughfare, has
very little room for expansion within its boundaries. Many
departments, who wish to expand and provide additional services, find
it difficult to provide sufficient office space for new staff due to
the storage of what amounts to warehouses full of documents,
correspondence, and business papers, and no apparent hope of
curtailing the proliferation of paper. Thus the need to reclaim office
space is paramount.

Through the course of a year, hundreds of thousands of pages of
documents and correspondence are generated and received. And because
of sheer volume, many departments store older files off site, keeping
only the most current documents at their immediate disposal. This is
expensive and causes delays in information gathering. Filing is
naturally time-consuming and prone to error, even in the best of
manual file systems. Documents can be misfiled, misplaced, lost,
damaged, and/or unavailable. This contributes to increased retrieval
time, incomplete information, and frustration. While computerization
of information has made the task of retrieving data much easier, much
of the information is in coded form, not original image. Yet many
times the original business documents or correspondence are needed to
"fill the gaps" or to clarify information.

Additionally, departments often need to share documents. This
only exacerbates the problem. We found many departments filing
duplicate copies of purchase orders, contracts, invoices, personnel
records, and related correspondence; in some cases, even entire files
are copied. This proliferation of paper and the requirement to share
documents only reinforces the need to centralize the storage of the
original documents and make them available, through secured electronic
means, for retrieval and viewing.

What is imaging/document management?

Imaging/document management is a process through which a document
is recorded or scanned electronically, indexed, and stored as a
digital image of its original form. Once digitized, it can be routed,
archived, and/or retrieved using existing workstations that have been

Imaging/document management may be implemented as a replacement
for traditional manual filing techniques. Through the "document
storage and retrieval" process, documents are captured by scanning,
then indexed and archived for retrieval at a later date. This reduces
file space, eliminates errors and misfiling, and improves

A second level of implementation is "document work-flow
management." In conjunction with document storage and retrieval,
documents are automatically routed throughout the department to the
electronic in-baskets of the appropriate individuals. This automatic
routing process follows the path a document normally takes until it
has completed its working cycle. At the end of the working cycle, the
document is either discarded or archived electronically.

The Information Resources department plans to incorporate both
implementations as an integral part of the institution-wide business
environment of the University of Miami. We anticipate achieving many
improvements and cost savings over the traditional ways of doing

What are the benefits?

The largest single benefit of imaging/document management is the
conversion from file cabinets to electronic storage. Typically, the
standard file cabinet occupies between 7.0 and 8.5 square feet of
floor space, including working area. With increasing requirements for
more office space, the elimination of file cabinets offers better
utilization of current areas without expending funds to expand the
office environments. Also, many departments store infrequently
accessed or archived documents in rented off-site storage facilities.
This rental expense can be eliminated by converting these infrequently
accessed documents.

As time passes, the growth of paper documents within the work
area continues. This growth can be managed within the imaging/document
management environment with minimal expansion costs compared to the
cost of providing additional space, either in the office area or off
site. The cost of future filing is virtually eliminated. With the
elimination of traditional manual filing systems, the high cost of
staffing to maintain and administer traditional filing techniques is
reduced. Future staff expansion requirements can be avoided by
reassigning and training current clerical staff without affecting
basic business needs. This approach offers continuity within the
workplace and maintains a high level of morale, while offering
opportunities for internal advancement.

Inherent in manual filing systems is the need to make numerous
copies of documents to satisfy various business requirements. The
responsibility of office managers today is to keep office expenses
under control. But with rising copy costs and increased numbers of
photocopies, the responsibility becomes a challenge. An
imaging/document management system significantly reduces photocopy
requirements by allowing documents to be shared without the need to
create additional copies.

No benefits discussion is complete without including those
intangible benefits that add to the overall justification of an
imaging/document management system. Though, in most cases, no direct
dollar value can be associated with these intangible benefits, many
areas achieve significant improvements in the ability to provide a
business service. Primary among these benefits is the ability to
provide immediate response to customer inquiries or to retrieve
relevant documentation while directly servicing the customer. This
directly enhances efforts to improve overall customer satisfaction. At
the University of Miami, the customer--parents, students, other
internal business units, or external business entities--is entitled to
the best possible service. Improvements in customer satisfaction
equate directly with improvements in our ability to maintain or
enhance our competitive edge. The use of an imaging/document
management system offers opportunities to achieve these improvements
by providing immediate and direct accessibility to required
documentation at the servicing workstation. The time delays
traditionally associated with document retrievals are virtually
eliminated or at least significantly reduced.

As mentioned earlier, we recently experienced the effects of
catastrophic loss due to Hurricane Andrew. This event brought to the
forefront the need to seriously consider the effect that a
catastrophic loss can have on our business units. Many areas within
the University experienced loss due to wind and water damage,
particularly to documents stored either in filing cabinets or off-site
in cardboard boxes. This type of loss effectively cripples the
business unit. By storing documents centrally on optical media and
making periodic backups for off-site storage, we can ensure against
such disasters. The cost of preparing and storing these backups is
minor compared to the high cost of a catastrophic loss.

Staff productivity in any business is the key to success.
Productivity improvements gained by utilizing imaging/document
management systems include improved document search and retrieval;
reduced filing requirements; elimination of misfiled, lost, and/or
damaged documents; and automatic document/file routing.

Selecting a platform for the University of Miami

To ensure the success of this project, the most important
commitment had to come from upper management. A thorough understanding
of the benefits, the costs, and the intensity of the implementation
plans had to be achieved. In addition, each department had to be ready
to commit, particularly by dedicating staff to the effort. Fifteen
University organizational units have committed to the project and are
planning to participate. Each of these units had already been planning
to implement decentralized image/document management solutions for its
areas; as we reviewed their plans, it became apparent that a
centralized solution should be investigated as well.

In attempting to choose the most viable imaging/document
management platform for the University, we reviewed and evaluated many
vendor solutions, both centralized and decentralized. These solutions
ranged in scope from single unit stand-alone systems costing $45,000 -
$60,000, through local area network solutions costing $50,000 -
$400,000 per LAN, to mid-range and large-scale mainframe systems
costing $1,200,000 - $5,000,000. As part of the evaluation process, we
considered such factors as equipment requirements, functionality, ease
of incorporation into the current environment, protection of current
hardware and software investments, ease of use, flexibility and
customizing capabilities, implementation and ongoing support, vendor
strength in this arena, and cost.

Though many available centralized and decentralized solutions
satisfy known requirements and provide the same functionality, cost
was the final determining factor. The centralized solution, including
central-site hardware/software and estimated departmental workstation
upgrades, was approximately $622,000 less than the decentralized
solution. This does not include file conversion costs, which will be
borne by each unit and are equivalent for the two solutions. Figure 1
summarizes the alternative costs.


Figure 1: Comparison of Centralized and Decentralized Costs
          (in thousands of dollars)

                     One Time           Annual

Decentralized            $2,014             $206

Centralized       $608              $86

User Areas        $784              $49
                  ----              ----
                         $1,392             $135
                          -----             ----
Net Savings                $622              $71


Our analysis of the relative merits of centralized versus
decentralized solutions determined that a centralized solution offered
material cost savings to the University without functional loss. Based
on the requirements obtained from the participating departments, and
anticipating the requirements of those remaining, we chose IBM
Corporation's AS/400 image solution, known as SAA ImagePlus Workfolder
Application Facility/400 (WAF).

This solution offers a centralized facility that when
incorporated within our current operating environment will offer
University-wide access to an imaging/document management platform from
an expected initial population of approximately 200 image-enabled
workstations and a wide variety of network technologies. This solution
includes work-flow management and storage and retrieval, as well as
both incoming and outgoing faxing capabilities. The AS/400, located at
the central computing facility, will act as the central repository for
all documents. These documents will be stored on optical jukeboxes
attached to the AS/400.

An important prerequisite for this acquisition is the introduction of
the campus-wide, fiber-optic backbone network and FDDI token-ring
communication facilities. This transmission method is designed to handle
large amounts of data at very rapid speeds. Traditional data
transmissions are in small packets, but image data transmissions are
significantly larger. Therefore, we expect to exploit the fiber-optic
network and the token-ring communication facilities to achieve the best
possible response times for user image requests. The installation and
implementation of this transmission and communications medium is
currently in progress.

Another important consideration is staffing. Image-enabling the
workplace is a complex undertaking. The more areas of the business
that are included in this process, the more complicated it becomes,
particularly with a centralized solution. Because this is a relatively
new technology, finding staff who are already familiar with imaging is
a challenge. One solution is to hire a consulting firm. This carries
with it a very high price tag, however, especially if the project
spans a long period of time. Another approach is to train qualified
individuals who have some background in computing and workstations.
Although we have not ruled out the possibility of using some outside
consulting services for pieces of the project, we did decide to hire
two permanent staff members as image analysts, who could be trained to
support this endeavor. These staff members are already on board, and
training is under way with the help of IBM. Also, within the next two
months we will add to the staff a qualified AS/400 specialist, who
will support the central imaging facility while the imaging analysts
proceed with image-enabling the individual departments.

Fundamental to the project was our decision that this project
would be self-supporting and self-funding. As each user department
workstation is assimilated into the AS/400 imaging environment, a
$3,000 one-time charge will be assessed. This one-time assessment per
workstation will fund the central site hardware/software, other one-
time, project-related costs, and departmental analysis. Annual
recurring expenses will be funded by charging user departments an
annual $500 access/support fee for each image workstation.

In September of 1993, having received commitment from fifteen
user departments, evaluated vendor alternatives, chosen a centralized
imaging/document management solution, selected the vendor, developed
project costs, and put together a high-level project plan, we
successfully presented our proposal to the Board of Trustees for
project approval and funding. To date, we have installed the central
facility hardware and software and embarked on our first departmental

Implementation plans

The first step in our image/document management implementation
plan is to perform a work-flow and document-management analysis within
each participating department. This analysis will be done in three

Phase One will be a "kick-off" meeting where the following
questions are answered:

  *  What is imaging/document management?
  *  What is the purpose of the project?
  *  What level of commitment is required?
  *  What do we hope to achieve?

Phase Two includes making appointments with key personnel in the
department to gain a detailed understanding of their documents and
work-flow requirements. In the final phase, the group will meet to go
over the findings of the detailed analysis and review the departmental
work-flow schematic.

Once Phase Two is completed, a phased implementation and
conversion plan will be developed for each department. The results of
the work-flow and document analysis will be used to develop this plan.
Departmental implementations will occur individually, since it is
virtually impossible to implement all departments simultaneously. The
order of implementation will be consistent with interdepartmental work

Departmental implementations must be scheduled and a timetable
established. This timetable will provide a guideline and reflect the
estimated time to perform each task in each department. We estimate
that it will take approximately ten to twelve weeks to complete the
work in each department, including analyzing document requirements,
ordering and installing equipment/software upgrades, and training. In
some instances, departmental implementations will occur serially, with
overlap towards the later part of the phase. Some ancillary
implementations will take place for departments where image
applications and needs require minimal conversion and can be
accomplished without affecting the major departmental implementations.
The final implementation timetable will be determined based on the
complexity of departmental imaging requirements, but we expect to
complete the entire project within thirty months, by the spring of

Workstation hardware upgrades and software installations will
take place according to the predetermined departmental implementation
timetable. Every effort will be made to protect the original
investments in equipment and network configurations. Additionally,
functions currently being performed in the departments, such as word
processing, spreadsheets, and host access, will be retained. While
participating departments will need to purchase imaging/communication-
related workstation software, only a few will need new hardware. Some
will be able to upgrade their current workstation hardware to enhance
the potential for better performance, and some will need no additional
hardware. The costs associated with image-enabling workstations will
depend on the existing workstation configurations.

Equipment installation plans will be determined based on existing
department workstation hardware and network configurations. Hardware
installations in individual user departments will occur as part of the
specific department's overall implementation and conversion plan.
After the equipment and software are installed, user training, the
most important part of a successful image implementation, will begin.
The key will be to provide this training in a timely manner and to as
many users as possible. The image application for many user
departments will be customized for their specific requirements. Others
will be involved in interdepartmental work-flow management
environments. Therefore, training will be customized for the users'
needs and the type of image application.

With a project of this magnitude, post-implementation reviews
will be essential. This will ensure that user requirements are
satisfied and that all components function according to expectations.
We plan to conduct these reviews approximately four to six weeks after
the initial departmental implementation. At that time the users and
the implementation team will meet to determine the progress of the
project and what (if any) adjustments are required.

On the road to success in radical directions

It has taken a long time to get to where we are today. We have
spent many years studying the technology and watching it mature and
become more cost-effective; now the time is right. We are excited to
be moving into a new era and generation of business applications. We
have an opportunity to bring to our workplace a new technology and,
more importantly, a new way of thinking. We expect the way we do
business will be radically changed for the better. To position the
University of Miami to accept the business and academic challenges of
the next century, we must be willing to accept moves in radical
directions in the 90s. We have accepted this challenge, made the
commitment, and launched the effort. We trust we will have a
successful implementation to relate in a future article.


Departments Participating in the Imaging Project

Accounts Payable
Accounts Receivable
Office of the Provost
Employee Benefits
Enrollment Services
Financial Assistance
Human Resources
Information Resources
Medical Finance
Office of Business and Finance
Physical Plant
University Advancement


Benefits of Imaging/Document Management

  *  Office Floor Space Savings
  *  Off-site Storage Space Savings
  *  Reduced Future Filing Costs
  *  Reduced Labor Costs
  *  Reduced Photocopy Charges
  *  Protection Against Catastrophic Loss
  *  Improved Customer Service
  *  Improved Overall Productivity


Freddie L. Robinson has been with the University of Miami for almost
seven years, bringing to the current organization over twenty-four
years of varied data and information processing experience in both the
public and private sectors. Among his responsibilities is the
leadership of the Image/Document Management Project. As an active
member of SHARE (an IBM users group) and a board member of the local
AIIM (Association for Image and Information Management) chapter, he is
committed to imaging/document management as the technology of the
future in the workplace.


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