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ECM System Gradually Spread Tentacles Throughout Organization

Buncombe County (N.C.) found itself awash in paper documents that were difficult to track and even harder to secure. To fix the problem, the county decided to purchase an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. Gradually, that decision impacted a handful of departments, and further expansion looms on the horizon. The county's tale illustrates the far reaching effects an ECM purchase often has on an organization.

Buncombe County provides a variety of municipal services, including economic development, policing, maintaining local parks, and social services. The government agency has more than 1,900 employees who work in more than a dozen departments. Given the diversity of its service, the county relies on a dozen servers, running mainly Microsoft's Windows, to support its operation. The agency's SAN has been upgraded, so it now supports 8T of information, with much of that growth coming from its ECM expansion.

That deployment began in 2002 when the county searched for a way to streamline communications between local law enforcement departments (both city and county) and the court system. "The district attorneys needed to be able to access police reports when they were in court," explained Juliana Austin, Information Technology, Document Management at the county.

The police reports were paper, so filing cabinets were often transported from the police departments to the courthouse. Security was an issue as the files crossed the street, and sometimes they were even stored near jail cells. Compounding the problem, there were no backup copies of the files, so problems arose when they were lost or damaged.

In addition, policemen did not have a simple way to access criminal background data. "We were outfitting our officers in the field with laptops, but they could not access arrest records, mug shots, or criminal histories when they were questioning individuals," stated Austin.

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