“It’s definitely worth it, and I take every opportunity I can to try to get customers and vendors on-board.”
– David Smith, Taycar Enterprise
When Vice President David Smith joined Taycar Enterprise (having been a Nuclear Weapons Technician in the Air Force), he recognized both the company’s need for a document management solution, and that the circumstances were unique. A consultant drew a map on the wall of his conference room describing what happens to a document at Taycar – says Smith, “When the map was complete, the question wasn’t do we need document management, the question was which document management software should we buy.”
A Success from the Start
Taycar Enterprises is a family-owned manufacturing company, located in Albuquerque, NM, specializing in precision sheet metal fabrication and assembly. Its main focus is in prototype and small production runs. Taycar’s flexibility allows the company to take customers’ requirements in a variety of formats, from hand-drawn sketches to CAD files from programs such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks, and produce a high-quality product with minimal turnaround time.
Taycar was awarded its first major contract by the Air Force Weapons Laboratory (AFWL) to modify an aircraft for electro-magnetic pulse testing. The company never looked back … twenty-five years later it boasts a client list of almost 500 customers, many of whom read like a who’s who of heavy hitters in the defense field, such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, and the Department of Defense, to name a few.
The Industry Creates the Need
“Issues with document control can arise at any time when doing defense-related and aerospace projects. They need to have traceability, says Smith, “The paper trail can be extremely complex, and with the old paper file system, if someone misfiled a document, it was like finding a very small needle in a very large haystack. We always found the piece of paper, but the process was difficult and time-consuming.” The practice of the ISO 9001 quality system results in customers regularly requesting paper-trail and processes auditing.
Once the ISO standards for quality assurance were authored, more and more of Taycar’s customers required that kind of system in place. A client can initiate an audit at any time and ask for back files from previous projects. That’s when the digging begins. Customers want to see a manufacturer’s written quality plan, plus proof that the quality plan was adhered to. “With a proper plan in place, manufacturers can go back and recreate the entire manufacturing sequence, and in the process, discover the root cause for anything that could go wrong. “You can imagine how important this is when you’re designing a part for an aircraft, for example,” says Smith.
Taycar had been through many audits of this type previously, and they had always done a good job of documentation. Unfortunately, all it takes is one misfiled document to cause hours of wasted search time and aggravation. Smith soon realized that, with document management software, a misfiled document can be found easily using an alternate search function. It’s that simple.
It Better Be Easy
Armed with a plan of features he wanted, Smith began searching for document management software. Most of his research took place on the Internet, where he found many products and suppliers. Manufacturers referred him to local distributors who offered demonstrations. One local company demonstrated software from three different manufacturers. Smith explained that there were good points about all of them, and he was close to buying, but he had one major concern – Smith wanted a product that offered ease of use for his workers and he just wasn’t seeing it. Smith knew his workers were manufacturing specialists, not technologists. Getting end-user buy-in was paramount.
Serendipity played its part when Smith bumped into local Albuquerque businessman Mark Fidel. Smith knew that Fidel, a former lawyer, had found a niche consulting with all types of businesses, helping them with document management in preparation for possible litigation. Smith sensed a similarity between Fidel’s clients hunting for a piece of paper in time for court, and his own people hunting for paper for a client audit. Smith wondered if the same solution that worked for Fidel’s clients would work for Taycar. Fidel told Smith about Computhink’s Contentverse document management software and arranged a demonstration.
During the demo, Smith recognized several key points that made Contentverse rise above its competitors:
1. Contentverse was more flexible and more adaptable than the other document management software programs.
2. Contentverse’s physical layout was more similar to programs Taycar was already using. The menus and fill structures worked the same as their existing machine software, similar to Microsoft Outlook.
3. Contentverse had the best user interface, enabling people who might not want to have anything to do with computers get involved in data input and retrieval.
The decision to buy Contentverse was made after the demo, the physical install took approximately four days, and, with training, the whole process only took one week. To ease employees into the routine and to mitigate potential glitches, Taycar initially ran Contentverse as a shadow system. “You can’t just flip a switch and expect people to mirror a light switch,” says Smith. Since the installation, the results from using Contentverse have been all good.
Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)
Smith cites several areas where Contentverse already pays for itself:
- No More Shop Safaris – A shop safari is Taycar’s term for hunting down a piece of paper. In addition to locating paper files from any desktop, the same file can be accessed by more than one person simultaneously.
- Vastly Improved Customer Service – Questions can usually be answered on the initial call. This saves countless hours for the employees by eliminating callbacks. Customers are amazed by the speed of resolution.
- Hard Dollars – Taycar has greatly reduced their annual expenditure for office supplies. They reduced their toner cartridge spending by 90%. The same logic applies to paper and file folders. Smith estimates an overall 80% reduction in office supplies expenses.
- Operational Expenses – Beyond the savings for supplies, Smith estimates that Taycar has improved staff productivity by over 200%, citing the increase of speed to get “pretty much every project done”.
Now that Smith has Contentverse, he is the first to tout its value. Previously, document Management software would not have been his first choice for spending money. “Manufacturers don’t like spending money on computers,” says Smith. “We want to spend money on machines that assist the manufacturing process, not software. It’s our nature.”
But Smith now recognizes and appreciates the value of Contentverse’s document management solution. He even looks forward to demonstrating its capabilities under actual audit conditions. “I wish they would audit us now, because that would really show us off,” he says. Fortunately, Smith won’t have to wait long. Most of his customers are on a two to three year audit cycle, so some are due, soon.
When issues pop up, Smith calls Fidel. Additionally, Computhink’s technicians are always available. Smith uses design software from top manufacturers and rates Computhink’s service comparable to the other top companies he works with. In fact, Smith is so satisfied with Contentverse that he does demos for his customers. If his customers use the same system, then the data stream could back up to the customer level.