“I think, therefore I am…” – Rene Descartes
Or in my case, I thought and Therefore provided the perfect solution!
Moving to my new role within the Cantec Group as Marketing Content Writer, I had to pass on some of my old administration tasks. One task, in particular, was going to be quite cumbersome and in advance, I tried to streamline and organise the job as much as possible.
With 23 vehicles in our company fleet, a mix of cars, smaller vans and tail lift vans, they require quite a lot of managing. On an almost daily basis, I would have to deal with one of the following:
- Windscreen Repairs
- Toll Tags
- Fuel Cards
- E-Car Charging
- Leasing & Purchase Information
- Vehicle Graphics
- Vehicle Recalls
- Licence Information
Working from my trusty spreadsheet for expiry dates, I was also heavily reliant on a filing cabinet for hard copies of the insurance, tax and CVRT certs. And don’t get me started on the myriad of paperwork generated by insurance quotes.
Not being the most technically competent, I still tried to move with the times. I created folders for softcopy documents, saving them on the server with “clever” file naming techniques, such as Admin/Vehicles/182 L 588 with a view to locating the information more quickly when needed.
Sounds fine, right?
Not so much!!
Even within that server folder, there wasn’t great organisation. Documents were hard to locate and there wasn’t an easy option for including email correspondence. To be honest, it was a bit all over the place and only I knew where to find what I needed.
Along came COVID!
And with COVID, came office closures and working from home and suddenly my “system” was quite evidently not sufficient, almost collapsing under the weight of its own inefficiency. Fast forward to March 2021 and a year into the new way of working (and limping along) with my old system. I was prompted by the change in role to view my “system” from a different perspective and it caused me to think about it more critically.
At the same time, I was aware of the Therefore Document Management Solution being discussed by my colleagues. They had been working very intently on developing and rolling out clever ways of working for other companies.
Drawing a comparison to the shoemaker’s children having no shoes, our team had been rolling out fantastic bespoke software to automate other people’s business process while our team and I, lagged behind.
So, I did what I do….
I wrote an e-mail, and it wasn’t brief! It was detailed and included all the aspects of the vehicle management that were time consuming, inefficient, and unsustainable. I suggested to our solutions team that we should adopt Therefore for the Fleet Management System in house.
For continuity and succession planning as well as embracing more sustainable work practises, this ticked all the boxes. Happily volunteering myself to be a guinea pig to gather the information, test it and provide “customer feedback”, they responded immediately!
Bearing in mind that I was trying to divest myself from this job, I got roped back straight into the planning of the changeover. However, seeing how enthusiastically my solutions team colleagues embraced the project, I was happy to be fully on board.
But what exactly is Therefore?
Dave Clynes, Solutions Specialist, stated that it is a “cloud based Central Document Repository System” while Roy Whelan, Solutions Director, said that it’s “a Document Management Solution that puts manners and structure on your data”.
Based in Austria, their main data centre is in Grangecastle, Dublin and are part owned by Canon, with whom we are platinum partners. According to the Therefore website, they “store, manage, process and analyse all kinds of business information throughout your organization.”
So, how exactly does it work?
I had to move away from the notion of lots of separate files and folders on a main server – Therefore functions as a single, central repository where all your documents can be saved.
And it’s easy! Oh, so easy to use – All documents can be scanned from existing files/folders, scanned from the printer/copier/scanner directly to Therefore or sent there directly from an email. New documents that are generated in Word/Excel can be saved directly to the Therefore repository.
This makes scanning documents and gathering the information faster, easier, and less tedious. From my own experience and from chats with others, the bulk of scanning, saving and re-naming required was one of the stumbling blocks to making any change to document management. Not so with Therefore!!
Now that all the information is in a single location, how can I find it?
Well, this is the absolute beauty of a system like Therefore – At the design stage, I nominated the information that I needed to capture and index or tag. This was pretty easy, as it is simply the information you need with which to make decisions, or which require further action.
Each van/car is a “Case” and I had designated a list of Categories like Insurance/Tax/Service etc. With fewer actions to index the information than saving a document would require, I can capture and save the information I need from any document.
Therefore Vehicle Case Categories
From this, I can select a Case overview and see all the documents linked with that vehicle. I can scan or search through the information by either the case or by a specific tag such as vehicle registration or expiry date. My search may be small and specific, or I can broaden it when uncertain of what I need.
Hitlist view of all Vehicles
Why is this a benefit to me?
There are so many benefits to implementing an intuitive, intelligent system like Therefore.
- I have a single repository for all the fleet documentation which holds all the relevant information.
- Working from home, out on the road or at an alternative work location doesn’t delay access.
- Security is increased as important, sometimes sensitive documentation is no longer at risk in filing cabinets.
- The information is collated and available easily and immediately.
- The system is robust, scalable and easy to use.
I can enter data even without having a backup document so information from other sites (toll tags/ e-car charging info) can be included to keep all the data in one location.
And if all of that were not enough to sway me, the Workflow reminders certainly would. Tagging the expiry date for Tax/ Insurance/CVRTs/Licences/ prompts a reminder in advance (adjustable as required) to action a certain task.
Adding a new Lease agreement document
Let me give you an example of how such a function can really help.
- Prior to taxing a van, the CVRT needs to be completed.
- The van may require tyres and/or a service in advance of the test.
- The Garage needs notice prior to booking a service (time that needs to be factored in.)
- Finally, the driver needs to be scheduled around his otherwise hectic workday.
The reminder to get the van taxed prompts a series of tasks that need to be completed. The workflows have the flexibility to manage the various elements and provide prompts and reminders for each stage. Some things still need to be done manually (booking the service call in the garage, for example) but with all the information to hand, this job is easier – make & model of van, date of last service, odometer reading are all index fields that are linked to the registration number.
You can get a list of tasks and assign them to individuals, and it will issue an email to the designated people to get the task done. Mapping out the workflow to include automated steps reduces the dependency on people remembering to do certain tasks and ensures that action items are completed.
Gone are the days of me constantly dipping into the spreadsheet for fear that I would miss a renewal and risk fines and penalty points for our drivers. The management of the data is also more robust. Not reliant on any individual, both scheduled and unplanned absences are more easily handled.
In brief, I have managed to get a user-friendly central repository for all the vehicle information. One that enables quick, easy retrieval of the relevant information with workflows to remind and prompt for tasks. It is flexible and scalable for growth and additional requirements.
It will do all this for me and for our fleet management process. And, as Roy said, “We are only using a fraction of its capability with the system so far – it can do so much more!”
From what I have seen, I can envisage many other applications for this technology. For fleet management in companies certainly but in many more situations. My colleagues in Docutec and SmartOffice will happily talk you through the possible uses. Just get in touch via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s early days yet folks! I was introduced to the demo today and eagerly await the full roll out. I’ll be sure to let you know how we get on!!