The Content Management Challenge

Located in Montreal, Canada, Concordia University is an urban educational institution serving 31,000 undergraduate and graduate students from across Canada and around the world. By the mid-1990s, the Dean of Arts & Science noticed that the amount of paperwork that had to be filed, stored, and retrieved in a timely and cost-effective manner was beginning to overwhelm his administrative staff. In response, the faculty deployed an enterprise content management (ECM) system for its 400 plus-member Faculty of Arts and Science and later expanded its use to the Library, and to the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science (130 members). Following the success of this deployment, Documentum was chosen as an ECM system to facilitate and manage the university's admissions process.

The dean's office of Concordia University's Faculty of Arts and Science stores a vast amount of information about its faculty members, including annual workload letters, contracts, performance reviews, and changes to curriculum vitae (CV). With more than one million pages in the dossiers of its 400 plus faculty members by the mid-1990s, the administrative staff was being overwhelmed by paper.

Retrieving dossiers and then searching within these files-each of which holds hundreds of pages-for the exact documents required to resolve inquiries about everything from tenure starting dates to required workloads took more than 1,500 employee hours per year and was also subject to human error.

Adding to the complexity of the content retrieval process was the fact that faculty personnel records were often scattered across multiple offices, including the dean's office, the faculty personnel office, and the university human resources office. With no central repository for faculty documents, staff members did not know where to look first for the documents they needed or whether a document they had was the most current version. Content retrieval was further complicated by duplication of documents within each dossier. All of this had a severe impact on productivity.

It was clear that the volume of dossiers and documents would continue to increase over time-as would the complexity of filing and retrieving the paperwork needed to handle inquiries. The university concluded that it needed a way to store documents centrally and electronically by specific attributes such as name and document type, including workload letter, contract, CV, tenure letter, or general correspondence.

The faculty's IT group knew it needed an enterprise content management (ECM) system, but the technicians did not have the expertise to design and implement such a system themselves. Concordia turned for help to Xerox Global Services, a worldwide consulting organization, and Documentum, the leading provider of ECM and a division of EMC Corporation.

With its ECM system fully implemented, Concordia University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences no longer relies on paper records. The key benefits of Concordia's ECM system include fast access to content and the ability to query the repository on the basis of file attributes. Instead of taking hours to figure out where a file is stored, then hours more to find the dossier in file cabinets, and even more time to isolate the specific document, the entire process is now completed in seconds with a few mouse clicks.

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