June 2012: We were extremely pleased to hear that not only was the implementation of the PDF Converter for SharePoint a huge success in Process Fusion’s client project, but that they would then be recommending it to their client base with a write-up in their July 2012 newsletter. We recently spoke with Brooke Martin, SharePoint Practice Lead to prep for this newsletter and thought we’d re-cap the details of this very successful project.
Muhimbi: Tell us about Process Fusion.
Brooke: Process Fusion Inc. is a Microsoft gold and managed solution partner specialized in Transactional Document Management. We are a technology and thought leader in the advancement of the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) capabilities of Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. Our goal is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate the inefficiency and errors associated with manual document handling.
We have over 200 active clients across the country in a wide variety of industries ranging from some of the largest financial institutions in Canada to very small non-profit organizations. As of now we have a team of 25. I’ve been with Process Fusion for 2 years and am the SharePoint Practice lead. My background is document management.
Muhimbi: Can you tell me a little bit about the client project that brought Muhimbi’s PDF Converter into the mix?
Brooke: Our client was a major regional hospital in Central Ontario with a 137 beds. The hospital administrative department had document “troubles”, to put it lightly. They had a collaborative problem and would send multiple versions of policy documents to different stakeholders, collaborated, then tried to re-create document with changes. This was pertaining to over 600 policies that need to be reviewed annually or bi-annually. All told there were over 600+ forms and with 7-10 contributors per policy, and their varying versions in play, it’s quite a bit of document management. Naturally, these policy documents were also a central aspect of running a hospital.
This process was hugely inefficient. It was a very big burden on the policy or procedure holder/owner. A lot of times they would end up being late on delivering critical document to staff that were responsible for utilizing them, especially like those involved in first hand patient care. Time is of the essence and hospitals tend to not have huge administrative staffs.
In a nutshell, we built an on-line collaborative tool with SharePoint and Microsoft Office on the hospital’s intranet where owners of the documents can publish the documents for the different stakeholders and those stakeholders can go online and edit that document once the edits are done the workflow status can be changed to publish and that’s when and then kicks off and converts to PDF.
Muhimbi: How did Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint make its way into the project?
Brooke: When we went through our discovery process and ultimately decided this was all going to be taking place on the hospital’s intranet we realized we needed a tool that could convert different document types to PDF and work with Nintex work-flows. Specifically pertaining to Muhimbi, first and foremost, it was the top recommendation from Nintex and we also saw quite a few recommendations from other Nintex users on forums and such. For the sake of due diligence we did look at a few options but the price for Muhimbi’s tool was incredibly reasonable for the functionality if offers. In the competitive landscape it’s very different from others.
In previous cases we’ve actually created our own PDF conversion tool for a client but with the different document types Muhimbi’s tool can convert such as excel or images, Muhimbi’s tool is much more involved and a better fit for this project.
Muhimbi: Were there any specific features about the PDF Converter for SharePoint that lead to your adopting it?
Brooke: Integration with Nintex Workflow was a must. From there the ability to convert different document types was also very important. Finally, the actual experience of doing the trial of Muhimbi’s software and working with Muhimbi staff was a major reason for recommending the tool. In those regards I’d say there are 2 key elements for us that were really relevant:
- Fast communication- we were in a rush to demo it as we were on a short timeline. Muhimbi staff responded to us very quickly when we had questions. Some of Muhimbi’s competition took 3 weeks to get a hold of someone.
- Ease of use from a development perspective- our developers started the trial very quickly and easily and that was a huge benefit to us. The topic of “Bench time” on a project is a big concern; spending hours learning a tool or training can be a hindrance toward selecting a given tool.
That both of these elements really worked in our favor in terms of evaluating Muhimbi’s PDF Converter was a big bonus for us and made it an easy choice.
Muhimbi: What benefits does the outcome of this project ensure for end-users (the administrative staff of the hospital)?
Brooke: It’s a huge times-saver. They’re going to be able to get this part of their job done, which is only one of many, that much faster. In the past there were a lot of technical challenges around the issue of when and these documents were published that these staff members will no longer have to worry about now that Nintex Workflows and Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint will do all of that for them behind the scenes and seamlessly.
As I mentioned most hospitals are pretty light on administrative staff but there’s a huge amount of administration to be done, meaning the small staff has a lot on their plate. Reducing this burden on them means less stress for them (it’s already a high stress environment), they can do other things, and as you can imagine lends to benefits hospital-wide.
Muhimbi: What have you done with the tool on this project?
Brooke: After going through the discovery process of seeing how the hospital’s administration collaborated on documents, we took a look at how SharePoint allows for such collaboration. In trying to stay within the SharePoint framework, we realized that the check-in, check-out would not be an option here. It’s a nice feature for the average SharePoint user but it can be quite cumbersome. In addition to the fact that there could be 7-10 contributors, the requirement was for everyone to be able to sign in and work on the document at the same time. So we have the ability to allow everyone to work simultaneously on a word document by highlighting a certain paragraph they’re working on, making this more like an interactive online tool. From there the owner changes the meta-data guiding the document along the different statuses: initiation is stage one, stage two when it’s in review, stage three is the final, and then stage 4 is converted to PDF and published.
There are two main document types in which we’re using Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint. One is “Policies and procedures workflows” moving the policies through the varying stages of collaboration and the second one is that we’re building a contract management similar to the word document: it’s open, edited, and collaborated upon. There aren’t as many users compared to Policies and Procedures but go through the specific stages and then get converted to PDF to be signed.
Muhimbi: Are people using it ways you hadn’t expected?
Brooke: We didn’t expect that the process could be automated. Our original thought was that it was more of a manual selection; we’d convert the editing collaboration process then hospital staff would have to manually convert to PDF, but with the integration with Nintex it’s more automated at the last stages. That’s a big bonus for us and users.
The whole process is behind the scenes for the client so they just change the stages of the workflow. It’s a huge value to them that they just click once and the Muhimbi tool does the rest from there. It’s almost unfortunate for Muhimbi, their tool makes things so convenient one might not even know or be able to appreciate how much is being done behind the scenes. Of course, that’s a quality of a good work-flow; the user gets to enjoy simplicity and efficiency without having to know all that’s being done to make that possible for him. Again, that’s a huge value for the customer.
Muhimbi: To re-cap, what is it about this process that is so important to the client?
Brooke: In working with their policies and procedures documents, there are over 600 policies that need to be reviewed annually or bi-annually. All told there were over 1000 forms and with 7-10 contributors per policy, and their varying versions in play, it’s quite a bit of document management to streamline and these documents are highly critical to the hospital’s operation.
Muhimbi: Do you have advice for others considering Muhimbi?
Brooke: If you’re already familiar with Muhimbi and are considering recommending their tool or using it yourself, I can just say that ease of doing business with Muhimbi as well as ease of use of their software is paramount if you’re an integrator or a consultant. From start to finish we were about a week between downloading the trial, asking questions, and ultimately making our recommendations to the client. It’s just amazing we were able to do that. There’s just not enough time in the day to evaluate new tools and the experience working with Muhimbi was a huge value to us. Finally, the product works; it does exactly what it says it will and those are all fabulous attributes to have.
Muhimbi: Thank you very much. Would you recommend PDF Converter for SharePoint to other SharePoint users?
Brooke: Yes, definitely. 100%. We plan on recommending it to our entire customer base and are going to do a write-up in our next newsletter that will be out next month (July 2012).