Customer Feedback Drives New Release of Quadrant’s IntelliChief
May 5, 2009 Alex Woodie
Quadrant Software last week unveiled a new release of its flagship IntelliChief document management and workflow product at the COMMON conference in Reno, Nevada. IntelliChief 2.5 brings a smattering of relatively minor enhancements, such as automatic document matching and performance metrics, which demonstrate that customers are using the product and giving Quadrant feedback on how to make it better.
There are two main paths that product development can take. The first springs from the mind of a single creative individual who is eager to push the latest technologies into his product. This type of development often looks very advanced on paper, but it can also lead to customers asking themselves “How am I going to use this?” and “Do I really need that?”
The second type of development path is marked primarily by customer feedback to the developers. After customers have been using a product for a while, they will say to their vendor, “This is great, but what I really need is this” or “My users could really benefit from that.” Sometimes, the features resulting from this development path lack the tech appeal that looks so good in press releases, but which is of dubious value to the majority of customers.
The version 2.5 release of IntelliChief appears to have been driven primarily by this second development paradigm. There aren’t a lot of whiz-bang new features that jump out as super incredibly awesome. But taken as a whole, the enhancements show how System i shops are using this Windows-based product, which is only four years old, but which appears to be maturing rapidly, thanks in large part to customer feedback.
One of these customer-driven features is the matching of workflow documents. When a document enters the product’s workflow system, with version 2.5, IntelliChief will automatically check to see if there are other documents waiting for a match before they’re processed. For example, when an invoice is received, a clerk will typically be required to match that invoice with receiving document, to avoid making payments on products that haven’t yet been received.
With IntelliChief 2.5, that matching process will be conducted automatically upon receipt of the invoice, eliminating the need for the clerk to manually match the documents, and also decreasing the possibility that the whole payment process is hung up due to a simple error or oversight. The system can automatically match documents by several variables, including customer number, order number, or vendor number.
IntelliChief 2.5 also gets new performance metrics. With this release, the product gives users the capability to track how various documents are being used within the business, which can give a good indication of how business is going.
Examples of how this feature could be used include: Showing a manager how many invoices have been sent out for voucher versus how many are still waiting for approval; showing a manager how many orders have been fulfilled and how long it took to process them; and showing a manager which accounts payable group is being more productive.
One wouldn’t normally expect to find this type of business intelligence (BI) or business performance management (BPM) feature within a content management system like IntelliChief. But when you consider that most businesses are heavily dependent upon paperwork, then you realize that this is actually a very practical way to monitor business activity.
The performance metric functionality is built into IntelliChief’s SQL Server database, which means that users won’t have to go through the time and expense of building their own BI system or reporting mechanisms to do this. It gives users the capability to write their own reports, or output data into other reporting systems, such as SAP‘s CrystalReports, according to Quadrant.
Another example of customer-driven enhancements is the new capability to edit forms in IntelliChief’s WebForms module, which was introduced last year. In the first release of WebForms, once a comment had been entered, such as for a purchase request or a petty cash request, it was sent to the IntelliChief archive, where it could not be modified. With version 2.5, WebForm entries can be edited and modified before being sent to a manger, thereby increasing the chance that that 50-inch plasma TV gets approved for the break room (or whatever your request may be).
A new notification capability in IntelliChief 2.5 should improve the flow of work in a business. With this release, users can now view notifications of alerts for things such as pending document approvals directly from their main IntelliChief screen, instead of viewing alerts only within their IntelliChief inbox. Users can also see detailed information about the documents from their main screen, and click on a hyperlink to be taken directly to the document.
IntelliChief also received enhancements in the way it handles multiple documents, for viewing and e-mail attachment purposes. When it comes to viewing, users can now view multiple documents on their screens simultaneously, thereby making it easier to verify or match documents. Similarly, IntelliChief supports the capability to group multiple related documents into a single e-mail attachment, instead of requiring a recipient to deal with multiple document attachments. IntelliChief typically saves documents in the PDF format.
This release also brings support for the latest Microsoft server technology, Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008. It also gains the capability to capture print output from 64-bit versions of Windows Vista.
IntelliChief is composed of six core modules, including ScanChief, PortalChief, WorkflowChief, ViewChief, StorageChief, and Quadrant’s Formtastic software, and also works with Quadrant’s i5/OS output management software. Pricing for the suite starts at around $50,000. For more information, visit intellichief.quadrantsoftware.com.