U.S. Army Gives Paper Forms the Boot

The U.S. Army recently turned to Rosslyn, VA.-based Enterprise Information Management (EIM) to replace all of its forms with an automated system that integrates technology from IBM, Silanis and PureEdge Solutions. EIM won the contract as a result of its success on a similar initiative with the Air Force, and will provide project management and support. The Army, which performs a whopping 15 million forms-based transactions every year, put together an internal initiative, the Forms Content Management Program, to streamline the forms process.

"Currently, the Army manually tracks and handles documents," says Jim Acklin, program manager at EIM. In many situations, documents are sent by courier to other locations for signatures, often in areas of hostile combat. "In reality, the setup of the form is irrelevant. It's the information the form contains that needs to be captured," he adds.

EIM and its partners are essentially developing the record-keeping system from scratch, with the first automated application scheduled for deployment by the end of 2005. The Army expects to save more than $1 billion a year as a result of the rollout, Acklin says. Moving forward, EIM will use PureEdge's XML-based e-forms to convert all of the Army's forms, "wizardize" those associated with complex business processes and add digital-signature capability from Silanis when required. That leg of the project will likely be completed in three to five years.

"The whole ability to shift the focus away from the form itself and to the management of the content is a powerful concept," Acklin says.

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