Highland Telephone, a rural telecommunications company operating in Tennessee and Kentucky, provides vital communications tools and the latest technology to geographic areas other companies often bypass. Highland was formed in 1955 as a member-owned cooperative, and it has grown to more than 17,000 members today.
Watch the short video to get a summary of their story.
Their main billing system is based on an IBM i (also known as iSeries, AS/400) and was using an IBM document archival tool called Content Manager (RDARS) that went out of support in 2018. Without support, Dan Williams, Network Engineer at Highland Telephone, and his manager, James Hamby, had to choose a new electronic document management system (EDMS) that worked well with the IBM server and could integrate with their existing applications.
In the customer billing group, three people ran the billing cycle, and in that process, they generated reports that ran anywhere from monthly to daily, depending on the process. Accounts receivable reports were printed out daily, showing what payments came in each day and what was outstanding.
As reports were generated in the customer billing group and printed, the data was sent to the archival system for backup. Up to this time, though data was archived, it was given to the Accounting department and CFO in printed reports. The CFO organized the reports in binders for future reference, which stacked up quickly. Every year, those reports were boxed up and put in a warehouse for storage. Later, if anyone needed to reference a report from a previous year, they had to go to the warehouse and sort through the boxes of binders for the right report.
How did they choose Webdocs?
Highland had been using another HelpSystems product, Intermapper, a network monitoring and mapping solution, for about 8 years, and that connection led to a conversation about whether Webdocs would be a good EDMS for how their company operates.
While they did evaluate other options, Hamby and Williams had a good feeling about Webdocs based on their experience with HelpSystems and the quality of the Intermapper software. Weighing cost versus capabilities and taking into account how Webdocs would integrate with existing applications, like Active Directory, made choosing Webdocs “pretty much a no-brainer,” says Williams.
Most importantly, as a company that runs on IBM i, Highland needed a partner with experience and knowledge in that space. Webdocs integrates with their existing IBM i, and the people on the HelpSystems Services team have the IBM i (iSeries, AS/400) expertise they needed. “In this day and age, it’s nice to run across a company that works in the Windows field but also knows what an IBM AS/400 is,” says Williams.
How was the implementation?
As a two-person IT department, Hamby and Williams are used to being deeply involved in everything that happens in their organization. Williams said that during implementation the HelpSystems engineer would work with them in a way that allowed them to “sit on top of his shoulder and be part of the configuration that he was doing so that we weren’t left out in the cold.” That was empowering, and he explains, “We’ve got enough knowledge of the product to be able to do some of the troubleshooting ourselves.”
And how are they operating now?
Webdocs has been a perfect fit for Highland Telephone. They’ve been able to integrate Webdocs with their current green screen application on their iSeries, and within 60 days of implementation, the customer billing group’s reports were being archived digitally.
“From a technical standpoint, I’m just thrilled with the way it integrates with the Windows system, Active Directory, and the 400 outqueues,” says Williams, in reference to the way Webdocs can use the data from IBM i (iSeries, AS/400) reports. “From the user perspective, I think it is a fantastic product because it is so simplistic. On some products you could get totally lost trying to find something. With [Webdocs], it’s right there, and it will allow more of our users to access the data.”
As a small company, it can be hard to get buy-in for widespread changes. But with Webdocs, not only has the initial user group accepted the new solution, but shortly after implementation, Williams had to come back to HelpSystems and get more licenses for the Accounting department because they’ve already seen the value Webdocs can provide. Before, the CFO had to sift through binders of paper reports to reference any previous report, but now he (or any authorized user) can just log into the Webdocs interface, pull up a report, and view it right there, online.
The Highland team isn’t done with rolling Webdocs out to their company. Williams says that they’ll keep rolling out to whatever teams are interested. “Webdocs gives us a path forward, and it also gives more people access to the data that we didn’t have before.”
Highland Telephone saw transformed processes when they implemented Webdocs. See what an EDMS could do for your business in a live, personalized demo.