PC Docs aims to build federal customer base

If the popular perception of federal employees is that of "paper pushers," then it should be no surprise that the federal market is popular for companies that sell document management products.

PC Docs Inc. is no exception. The Burlington, Mass., company counts the Federal Trade Commission as one of its biggest customers, with 5,000 users agencywide, said Ann Palermo, vice president of worldwide marketing. The General Accounting Office, Defense Department, Internal Revenue Service and the White House are also major federal customers, according to PC Docs.

PC Docs' DOCS Open product manages document check-in/check-out, version control, storage and usage history. The company works with Lotus Development Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to integrate DOCS Open with their groupware products, Palermo said.

Making Deals With SAIC

PC Docs' sales to the federal sector are made directly through the company for the most part. But to reach even more potential customers, PC DOCS inked a deal last year with Science Applications International Corp. in which the integrator will use PC Docs' products in its government integration contracts. "Our customers in both the federal government and the private sector are seeking innovative solutions to gain control over the deluge of electronic files and hard copy documents created and received daily," said Larry Peck, vice president of SAIC's Technology Solutions Sector.

FTC Taps PC Docs

The FTC uses the latest version of DOCS Open to manage the electronic availability of the documents used in the agency's investigations, said John Paul Deley, program administrator for the FTC. The agency assigns one of 225 category codes to identify whether a document is a subpoena, a press release, notes or testimony, for example.

PC Docs' work in the legal industry has given the company an opening with such federal agencies as the FTC, analysts said. "A lot of PC Docs' interest in the government market resulted from experience in the legal market," said John Hughes, an analyst for Delphi Consulting Group Inc., Boston.

The FTC is in the process of applying DOCS Open management capabilities to its vast library of past legal decisions. These decisions fill 117 volumes in the commission's library, and so far Deley's staff has loaded 40 volumes into the DOCS Open system. "Now instead of 40 indices, [the legal staff] only has to look in a single index that covers all of them," he said. "Everybody in the commission has access to it."

Deley prioritizes information in two categories; information the FTC used daily and information used monthly. The FTC is adding the information from least-used to most-used, so that by the time that critical information is on the system, all bugs will be ironed out, and users will be accustomed to using the system to find information. "We are building a library by working backwards," he said.

Eventually, all the information will be added to the database. With all that information on-line, the FTC is looking forward to pending upgrades to DOCS Open that will boost its speed when searching for information. "The phase and proximity searches are a little slow," Deley said.

The FTC has a maintenance contract that provides upgrades as they become available.

Deley participates in a Washington, D.C.-area DOCS Open users' group that meets monthly to discuss tips and tricks for managing libraries better. "If somebody has a problem, somebody else usually has a solution," he said.

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