IDC Reviews Laserfiche

Recently, IDC published a vendor profile on Laserfiche. IDC’s research manager, Michael Orasin, provides an in-depth report of Laserfiche and its management team, products, and it’s future.
IDC’s report states, “Laserfiche is in an enviable position. It provides a robust ECM offering in a simple yet elegant way. Both its end-user functionality and its administrative capabilities can help organizations address the majority of their document and records management issues effectively and within a shorter time frame than other large enterprise content management providers.”
IDC Laserfiche Overview

IDC’s report is very insightful and gives a good picture of capability of Laserfiche, the best electronic document management software on the market today.

Larry Phelps
Solbrekk
Minneapolis, Minnesota

PeopleSoft Laserfiche Integration Project – Star Tribune

PeopleSoft Laserfiche Integration project resulted in Solbrekk (now call Hemingway Solutions) to Reach Winners Circle Status

Minneapolis, Minnesota (Solbrekk) – October 14, 2009 — Solbrekk announced today that the business technology solutions provider has reached Laserfiche “Winners Circle” status for the second time. This means that Solbrekk will be recognized in January 2010 at a special event for accomplished value-added resellers.
“This year, customers have been careful to select a reliable, cost-effective solution that creates efficiency, and adds value to their organization, “says Larry Phelps, Solbrekk’s vice president of sales. “Laserfiche has been a great fit because their enterprise content management software suite is open, easy to integrate, loaded with functionality and easy to use, reducing the complexities for IT staff and end-users, and frankly, this is exactly what our customers want.”

As a case in point, Phelps points to Solbrekk’s work for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, one of the largest newspapers in the United States. “It was a very challenging project,” Phelps explained that the company needed to replace a legacy imaging system and migrate massive databases from shared servers.

“As part of that task, Chad Brinkman, our senior network and integration engineer, deciphered their existing integrations and workflows and then implemented them in the new systems. All told, he integrated Laserfiche successfully with PeopleSoft®, RightFax® and Oracle® applications,” said Phelps. “These integrations will help the Star Tribune streamline key processes in accounts payable, human resources, travel and contracts. This project is a great example of how Laserfiche serves as a versatile and flexible foundation for enterprise solutions.”

Solbrekk’s other recent successes include Laserfiche deployments for I.C. System and the City of Shoreview, Minnesota. Looking ahead, Solbrekk plans to focus on delivering solutions to clients in the medical, local government and manufacturing fields, as well as developing enterprise-wide solutions for corporations of all sizes.
Based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, Solbrekk, Inc., was formed in 2003 to bring together the combined knowledge and experience of four complementary businesses that had each been in business for a dozen years or more. The group included Software Tailors, Inc., Phelps’ former company, which had been a Laserfiche VAR since 1995. With 20 certified network engineers on staff, Solbrekk has quickly become one of the largest computer service companies in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Larry Phelps and Chad Brinkman lead the company’s electronic document management solutions team.

About Laserfiche
Laserfiche® creates simple and elegant enterprise content management (ECM) solutions that help organizations run smarter. Since 1987, more than 27,000 organizations worldwide—including healthcare organizations, government agencies, and Fortune 1000 companies—have used Laserfiche software to streamline document, records and business process management.

The Laserfiche ECM system is designed to give IT managers central control over their information infrastructure, including standards, security, and auditing while offering business units the flexibility to respond quickly to changing conditions. The Laserfiche product suite is built upon Microsoft® technologies to simplify system administration, supports Microsoft SQL and Oracle® platforms and features seamless integration with Microsoft Office® applications and two-way integration with SharePoint®.

Laserfiche distributes its software through a worldwide network of value-added resellers (VARs), who tailor solutions to clients’ individual needs. The Laserfiche VAR program has received the Five-Star rating from Computer Reseller News/VARBusiness magazine.
Laserfiche is a registered trademark of Compulink Management Center, Inc.

Laserfiche – Peoplesoft Integration for Star Tribune

Laserfiche PeopleSoft Integration for Star TribuneTurning A Deadline Into A Headline

Running smarter means hitting the ground running for Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Star Tribune

Newspapers are used to working on tight deadlines, but nothing could have prepared 2008 Run Smarter Award winners The Star Tribune for the time-crunch the Minneapolis newspaper faced when it needed to replace its legacy document imaging system—one with no support or upgrade path—with one that could migrate massive databases from shared servers in less than a year.

On December 26, 2006, it was announced that the Star Tribune’s corporate parent, McClatchy, had sold the newspaper effective March 7, 2007. With the sale, says Star Tribune Software Engineer Corrie Kuester, came a provision that the paper had just one year (now ticking down to nine months from the time of the announcement) to pull and replace all its legacy data and bolt-on financial systems from McClatchy. One of these systems was the Bluebird imaging software utilized by the Star Tribune’s Asset Management, Accounts Payable, and Travel & Expense systems.

IT staff had to move fast, narrowing their choices down within just two months. Finally, they chose Laserfiche, for two main reasons: cost and support.

First, there was the immediate value-added benefit that Laserfiche was less expensive than the competition. “We decided on Laserfiche mostly because of cost,” Kuester admits. But he’s quick to add that facing such a quick turnaround schedule, the Star Tribune needed ambitious and experienced help integrating with their existing systems.

“Our decision was also based on the fact that our local Laserfiche reseller Solbrekk had experience implementing document imaging with PeopleSoft financials,” he explains. “Plus they had a willingness to explore RightFax as a data collection vehicle for our Travel & Expense and Asset Management systems.”

Utilizing RightFax was critical to the Star Tribune, Kuester says, since its legacy workflow systems had heavily relied on RightFax for document collection, leftover from McClatchy’s nationwide presence.

“We needed an imaging partner that would work with us to ‘lift and load’ our existing processes from McClatchy and yet make our tight six-month implementation schedule without having to re-invent processing workflows,” he says.

The mid-August deadline to “lift and load” meant Kuester’s team had less than nine months to re-install the Star Tribune’s PeopleSoft HR and financial applications along with the associated bolt-on systems that had been developed over the previous 10 years. The newspaper, remember, had agreed to be off McClatchy’s system within a year.

IT staff partnered with Oracle to strip the legacy systems and re-load the Star Tribune data into their newly acquired systems.

Where most Laserfiche users sing the praises of patient, phase-wise implementation gradually expanded over time from office to office or department to department, The Star Tribune didn’t have that luxury.

“Since all our data needed to be pulled all at once, our approach wasn’t focused on phases or how many people at a time, but how we could pull our data and insure we got it all,” Kuester says, “as well as assuring the knowledge transfer of the custom bolt-on systems that McClatchy had developed.”

The challenge they faced now was where they could store their data, since the Star Tribune’s new servers and databases wouldn’t be ready for the initial testing phases. And here’s where the Star Tribune’s new Laserfiche system really started to shine.

In the past, Kuester relays, any PeopleSoft upgrade at McClatchy was always hindered with the fact that Bluebird could only be linked to a production server, which negated proper testing. Oracle had supplied Star Tribune IT staff with a lab environment to make multiple passes of extracting and loading data while the servers and databases were being installed, but the lab didn’t allow for testing the newspaper’s newly-acquired Laserfiche imaging processes.

Running smarter now meant the Star Tribune needed to use Laserfiche to hit the ground running.

“We opted to convert Bluebird to Laserfiche concurrent with performing multiple data extraction passes on our legacy data. Once the Bluebird data was converted to the Laserfiche server and test databases were built, then staff could test the imaging processes and their interaction with PeopleSoft,” says Kuester.

“It was Laserfiche’s search mechanism for retrieving documents from the image repository that now allowed us to access images from both our production and test databases,” he adds. This allowed the Star Tribune to test its workflow, document scanning, retrieval and custom coding changes in a test PeopleSoft environment without affecting the lab environment being utilized for its ‘lift and load’ testing.

“Basically, because of Laserfiche’s search function, we could develop the new custom code for linking Laserfiche to PeopleSoft in a separate database and could apply them to production after our final conversion, knowing there would be none of the test-versus-production problems we experienced with Bluebird,” Kuester says.

And then a funny thing happened on Star Tribune’s way to becoming a Run Smarter winner: the August deadline was not only met, but during the migration process over 25,000 missing files were found. “My best guess is that they were files that were stored in Bluebird but were not linked to PeopleSoft due to business rules,” Kuester proffers. “Because they were not visible to PeopleSoft, they really were not accessible—but now they are right there in Laserfiche.”

Since then, the integration has been seamless, due in no small part of Laserfiche. Here’s how it works. Database fields in Oracle and SQL associate a PeopleSoft record with a Laserfiche document. By integrating PeopleSoft, RightFax, Oracle and Laserfiche, the Star Tribune is also able to automate workflow, such that, say, an expense report entered in PeopleSoft has a barcode, which RightFax sends to a network folder where Laserfiche Quick Agent recognizes the barcode, files the receipt in Laserfiche and then notifies PeopleSoft that the expense can be reimbursed.

What started as an Accounts Payable solution is now being used by Circulation, HR, Asset Management and Interactive Media, with Laserfiche Records Manager on deck to manage contracts for the entire company.

“We’re still using Laserfiche within a departmental structure, with each department managing their own records’ life cycle,” Kuester adds. “We’ll be looking at Records Management Edition as we roll out Laserfiche to more departments.”

Though the Star Tribune’s story is hardly a typical one, Kuester agrees Laserfiche more than earned its keep in the effort.

“We’d recommend Laserfiche to other organizations. It’s very easy to learn how to use Laserfiche with a minimal amount of training,” he says. Owing to the particular integrations and migrations, he also sings the praises of a hand-on reseller like Solbrekk.

“We were very impressed with the amount of support we received from Solbrekk during our conversion that allowed us to make our implementation date,” Kuester says. “Their experience with PeopleSoft in prior conversions meant they could give us all the help we needed to code the retrieval of images from within PeopleSoft.”

Still, despite the success making its implementation date, Laserfiche’s ongoing value to the Star Tribune is empowering its staff.

“Once people have an opportunity to see what some of the capabilities are, they are excited to begin using Laserfiche,” says Kuester. “Because it is easy to learn, users have found that they can become productive in a very short time.”

Great News, a New Version of Laserfiche Has Been Released

Laserfiche 8.2 is now shipping and available for free upgrade for clients with current support contract (LSAP). It includes a new Server, Client and Web Access. This is a major release and contains numerous new features, fixes, and significant performance enhancements. Please note that you cannot upgrade just the client, both the server and the client must be 8.2.

Laserfiche Server, Client and Web Access 8.2 Enhancements Include:
1. Laserfiche Snapshot is a full driver update which allows users to save their favorite settings to Snapshot printing profiles.
2. Laserfiche Scanning now supports Windows Image Acquisition (WIA), a new standard for scanner drivers.
3. Dynamic fields allow only relevant field information to be displayed based on values selected in other fields. For example, if the Document Type field is set to “correspondence” then fields that are related to correspondence would be displayed such as creation date, author, and subject.
4. New PDF support features, PDFs can now have image and text pages generated natively by Laserfiche, either at time of import or once the PDF is in the repository. In addition, annotation conversion support is available for both import and export, and PDFs can be exported in the archival PDF/A format.
5. Stamps can be created from a text string rather than just from an image. The text string supports tokens, allowing for dynamic date, count, and user stamps.
6. Search enhancements allow users to refine a set of search results to quickly locate the documents they are searching for. Laserfiche search now also supports the ability to find related words in full-text searches, and allows you to specify multiple folders for search filtering.
7. Laserfiche Records Management Edition now is DOD 5015.2 revision 3 certificated.
8. Laserfiche 8 has improved Office Integration. The Office Plug-in has been updated to more tightly integrate Laserfiche and Microsoft Office. It streamlined Save to Laserfiche process, the ability to view Laserfiche metadata from within Office applications, the ability to directly attach Laserfiche documents to an e-mail from within Microsoft Outlook, and full support of Office 2010.
9. Optional watermarks allow users to choose to print watermarks on documents that are not already watermarked, allowing a user to easily add a note (such as “draft” or “do not copy”) to a printed or exported document.
10. Custom field formats: Laserfiche now supports customized display of number, date and time fields. This allows you to display a number field as currency, for instance, or to customize the way date information is displayed.
11. Editable encrypted and compressed volumes, any Laserfiche volume now can be encryption and compression.
12. Time-based volume rollover allows volumes to be configured to roll over and create a new volume based on a time schedule or when they reach a particular size.
13. The User and Admin Help Guides are now available online in their most up-to-date form.
14. Laserfiche Web Access includes support for all new Laserfiche 8.2 Client and Server features, as well as performance enhancements and support for distributed installation.
15. Laserfiche 8.2 now includes improved troubleshooting support. It includes several new troubleshooting tools, including improved error message and trace handling and a tool for gathering troubleshooting information about your Laserfiche installation.

Larry Phelps
Solbrekk, Minneapolis Minnesota

Email Archiving – Which Method is Best?

Email archiving is fairly easy concept to understand, but how it is accomplished using the underlying technologies is not as easy to grasp. These technologies include; MAPI, Exchange Web Services, Transaction Log Parsing, and Single Instance Storage. Most product demonstrations typically spend time explaining the benefits of their products as they should. But, an understanding of the underlying technologies can help you make a more informed decision.

Some have said that Microsoft plans to move away from MAPI. I don’t believe Microsoft is moving away from MAPI any time soon. Currently, there are an estimated 500 million Microsoft Outlook users. Outlook uses MAPI to connect to Exchange. Even using Outlook remotely (RPC over HTTP), you are still using the MAPI protocol via plain RPC or RPC embedded within an HTTP data stream.

For this reason I recommend a email archive product that uses MAPI technology.

Other products use Transaction Log parsing. Although, this works, it is not using Microsoft’s best practices approach. Essentially developers are reverse engineering the Exchange undocumented Transaction Logs to extracting data for archival. Using this method can result in a major problems for this type of archive product if for some reason you need to restore Exchange data from a backup.

For this reason I recommend that you do not select an email archiving product that parses the Exchange Transaction Logs.

Many people are worried about email archiving adding extra overhead to your Exchange server. Both archiving methods, using MAPI or Parsing Transaction Logs , do add a certain additional load to a server. But we have not seen this cause problems. In most cases, most organizations have too much data in their Exchange server and using a good email archiving product eliminates this unnecessary data and actually makes the Exchange server perform better.

If you have questions or would like to look at email arching, please feel free to contact me.

Larry Phelps
Solbrekk
Minneapolis Minnesota

Changing default font save $100k – but misses the point!

The University of Wisconsin recently made a simple change to their email system that saved them thousands of dollars. They changed the default font on their email system to Century Gothic, which uses about 30% less ink than Arial.

Everyone was amazed that a simple change like this can save so much money. And they were very proud that they found this easy change that saved thousands of dollars. But, I think they all are missing the point! No one was asking the right question. Why are they printing all these emails?

I hope you are asking the right questions in your organization. And that you are looking at paperless technology to reduce the amount of paper used and greatly increase productivity in your office.

If you are interested in looking at paperless technology. I would be happy to show you how Laserfiche electronic document management software could help you move toward a paperless office.

Larry Phelps
Solbrekk
Minneapolis, Minnesota

C2C Email Archiving

We find that the reason many people have problems with their email server is that their user are using their email system as their filing cabinet. Seldom deleting emails, just in case they need them. This causes their server to fill up, affecting performance and sometimes causing the system to near is storage limits.  User are asked to delete their email or archive it.  PST files are created and are difficult to manage.  Can you relate to this?

    Here are some good reasons you should consider implementing a Email archival system:

  1. Server performance
  2. Server capacity
  3. Reduce IT workload
  4. Eliminate reliance on PST files 
  5. More efficient search and retrieval 
  6. Security 
  7. Compliance 
  8. Discovery 
  9. Disaster Recovery 
  10. End-user convenience 
  11. Manage retention policy 
  12. Employee productivity,a recent IDC study revealed that a company with 1,000 information workers can expect to lose more than $5 million in annual salary costs because of time spent on unproductive e-mail searches.  Reasons to Archive Email 
     

We have looked at many Email Archiving products and recommend C2C.  Here is some articles that I think you will find helpful.

C2C Key Benefits of Archive One Email Archiving

C2C ArchiveOne Express Email Archive for Small Business

Email Archiving Disk-based Repositories White Paper

C2C Microsoft Exchange Advanced Email Archiving

C2C Email Archiving Osterman Research on Content Retention

If you are interested in learning more about email archiving or would like to engage in a 30 day pilot project, please contact me.

Larry Phelps

612-382-4069

Solbrekk

Minneapolis Minnesota