September 12, 2013 12

Electronic Workflow & Knowledge Management Network logo. The FY 2012 Small Business Award at Oak Ridge National Laboratory was awarded to a company who used PDF to revolutionize contracts management for one of the nation’s premiere research laboratories.

Using PDF technology – Adobe Acrobat and a few plugins – ORNL’S Business Services Directorate contracting system went paperless in 90 days; now all contracts are instantly full-text searchable. The Laboratory now manages accounts receivable, payroll, tax and treasury, property, conferences, general ledger, parts of accounts payable, and contract closeout using this system. The amount of paper generated or filed has plummeted.

Software costs were negligible; the desktop PDF software was useful in any event, and the specialized plugins were very inexpensive.

I asked Tom Carson, whose company Electronic Workflow and Knowledge Management Network, won the Small Business Award and provided the consulting, to tell me what was involved.

Tom said:

What we did was simple. We just duplicated the paper workflow electronically. People understood the concept and easily came on board. We had one lady in her 70s that was scared to death. After a couple days, she became a major advocate.

Perhaps most significantly, the program was an instant success; with software and setup costs under $60,000 and over $200,000 a year in operating cost savings thereafter.

Learn more about Tom’s Electronic Workflow and Knowledge Management Network.

Read about this project in ORNL’s Sustainable Campus Initiative newsletter (pdf).