County with ‘most educated city in the U.S.’ saves $400,000 by replacing IBM FileNet with OnBase.
By going with OnBase instead of upgrading FileNet, we instantly saved $400,000... and we evolve the system ourselves at a much lower cost. For instance, developing our current workflow in FileNet would have cost $200,000 more.
— Kimberly Wraight, ECM Coordinator, Washtenaw County
Located just west of Detroit, about 350,000 very smart people call Washtenaw County home. Its county seat is Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan and a hotbed of high-tech research and development. In 2019, CNBC.com listed Ann Arbor as the "most educated city in the U.S.," and U.S. News once put it in the top 10 "brainiest places to retire." To keep the brain power running, the county employs nearly 1,300 workers in 22 departments.
With a goal to better manage and store county documents, Washtenaw put in an IBM FileNet enterprise content management (ECM) solution. Starting small, five departments were on the system, including Environmental Health and Building Inspections. County leaders expected process efficiency and service to improve with better document access.
But after five years, Washtenaw was looking to upgrade or replace FileNet due to problems on at least three levels.
- First, FileNet needed custom coding and integrator consultant services for just about any change, from day-to-day administration, to evolving the system, to growing it to meet changing needs. This meant IT staff did not have full control of their ECM system. It also meant long wait times for even simple changes and a high total cost of ECM ownership.
- Second, the ECM hardware was at the end of its life and the county faced $100,000 just to replace the legacy Unix-based servers.
- Finally, many departments needed process improvement workflows, but the county was only using ECM for scanning, storing and retrieving documents. Technical complexities and cost hurdles to deploy workflow in FileNet prohibited leveraging their investment any deeper. So despite its expense and its household name in the market, only 20 users in a select number of county departments were even using FileNet.
Deploying FileNet to new departments usually took two to three months and required a service integrator. With OnBase, we do it ourselves in a fraction of the time and cost. Really, the two ECM systems are not comparable in any way.
— Dave Wilson, OnBase Administrator, Washtenaw County
Washtenaw chose OnBase, offered by Authorized OnBase Solution Provider, ImageSoft. For the same price that IBM proposed to merely upgrade its existing 20 user FileNet system, Washtenaw converted to OnBase, replaced its Unix servers with more efficient and less expensive Microsoft servers, and put in more than 100 process improvement workflows across 15 departments.
Selecting the right vendor
With the five-year old FileNet solution in need of an upgrade to meet the expanding business requirements, it was clear the Unix hardware needed to be replaced. But with budget cuts looming, the IT department decided to see what other high-value, proven content management solutions were out there.
They wanted a solution that could be maintained in-house and deliver a more complete solution ownership experience at a lower total cost. So they started an RFP process to find content management solutions built on the Microsoft platform that would enable them to maintain and expand the solution as needed by the county, without constant consultant services. All in all, they evaluated 11 different vendors before selecting OnBase.
Savings for services, servers, solution: $400k; Having in-house control: Priceless
With OnBase came an immediate return on investment. At half of the price it would have cost to fully expand the FileNet solution to 15 departments and hundreds of users, Washtenaw not only got a lot more user licenses and functionality, it got a system that staff can expand and maintain completely in-house. Before the OnBase switch from FileNet, they were only able to integrate ECM with one line-of-business application. It took weeks of VB scripting to get up and running, and from then on required someone to maintain the scripts. So far with OnBase, IT staff has integrated with more than 50 line-of-business applications without custom code or scripting. And as part of the conversion, even the county's home-grown, VB scripted and Kofax scanning solutions were transformed to OnBase solutions, eliminating the cost and maintenance of custom coded solutions and disparate legacy systems.
With complete control over its content management system, IT can provide much better service. And when they do need help, the customer support is like night and day compared with their old integrator. "We used to have to go through the sales department and open up a project ticket for every single call," recalls Dave Wilson, OnBase Administrator. "Now, we get answers to most questions in minutes. We love working with an integrator who treats us as a partner, not just a paycheck."
Five months to convert from FileNet to OnBase; 15 to triple the solution
In five months, not only was all FileNet data converted — without losing any images — but also the five departments that had been using FileNet were up and running and fully trained in OnBase. And then the new solution just took off. From five departments to 15; from 20 users to more than 300 users; from simply scanning, storing and retrieving documents to more than 100 automated workflows. Start to finish, this took only 15 months. Departments using OnBase include:
- Human Resources
- Building Inspection
- Children's Services
Why convert from FileNet to OnBase?
Converting from FileNet to OnBase not only saves you money at implementation, it empowers you to administer, evolve and expand your system as you need to without custom coding. So your return on investment never ends.