Before introducing an electronic document management system (DMS), its Purchasing, Sales and Technical departments were responsible for a large part of their paper documents. Thousands of documents were created, copied, edited and archived every week. With more time-critical processes, the departments also used email as a communication tool.
This flood of paper and email had an increasingly negative effect on the company's work processes, for example, for purchasing. "If a department needed a particular product in the past, it would unleash a relatively complicated process and chain of documents," recalls Alexandru Capata, the Kaizen manager at Comelf. First, the Purchasing department was informed by email about a required product. Employees would then search for relevant purchasing documents from their paper archive, contact available vendors, and compare the terms with past projects. The more incomplete the paperwork was – for example, due to a missing bit of email communication – the more time this process soaked up.
"The parallel use of paper and electronic mail as well as a decentralized storage process made everything less transparent and more difficult than ever," explains Alexandru. If a colleague wanted to find out, for example, which components were purchased from which vendor at the end of the year, he had to sift through page after page of documents and then search through old email. "But all this analysis is an incredibly important process. After all, purchasing has a direct impact on our budget. However, our approach was simply too long-winded and took time away from colleagues from more important issues," according to the company’s Kaizen manager. The authorization process which came after this part of the process wasn’t any easier: they had to hunt down colleagues for signatures, especially when they were traveling or not in the office. Confusion about small details could delay an entire purchase.