Over the past 25 years, Chesapeake Energy has experienced remarkable growth, from 10 employees in 1989 to more than 5,000 today. Revenue has also skyrocketed, with an enterprise value of approximately $35 billion in 2014. For Avis Bray, who manages the company’s Imaging Center, this growth has also created a huge increase in the amount of services her department provides.
The company’s expansion has led to an increase in the number of Imaging Center employees—from two to over 40. This team covers scanning, quality control, copy center, check printing and mail out processing. The growth resulted in the need to upgrade technology and maximize efficiency in every process. “We needed to learn how to work smarter, not harder,” says Bray.
While the Imaging Center was established in 2003, in January 2004, one significant company move entailed centralizing its scanning and imaging work in one location; therefore, all scanning was brought to the newly established Imaging Center. This decision led to another important step: assessing existing technology and ultimately replacing several different scanning software products with Kofax Capture™ and Kofax Transformation™.
“Each of the platforms we were using had limitations,” Bray recalls. Quality control and lack of flexibility were serious concerns. In one case, the software was so inflexible that it could be used only for specific applications, such as accounts payable. In another case, quality was such an issue that documents would often need to be scanned multiple times to ensure that the right information was captured. Adding to the challenge, the Imaging Center did not have the ability to rescan a specific, single page within a document, so the entire document would need to be rescanned. Lastly, for contrast settings, they were only able to apply the setting to the entire document. “With the highest quality image we could produce, we knew the quality wasn’t what we wanted,” shared Bray.
Moreover, Bray says, these products were of the “all in one” variety—a document repository plus scanning platform—trying to solve multiple problems and not doing a great job at any of them. Her department concluded that the best approach would be to invest in an industry-best document repository separately from a state-of-the-art imaging solution.
Chesapeake Energy sent out an RFP for a new capture solution and began evaluating a dozen different vendors. After narrowing down the selection to two clear leaders in this space, the company put both vendors through the paces to test their capabilities and limitations. In the end, Bray says that Chesapeake Energy went with the vendor whose vision aligned with the company’s requirements: “We really felt Kofax would fit our needs in the long term,” she says.
After making the decision to go with Kofax Capture, the implementation process moved quickly and took less than two months. Chesapeake hired a Ricoh consultant with deep knowledge and experience working with Kofax products. Concluding this was right approach, Bray says implementation and deployment were “very, very smooth.”
“We have an extremely robust IT group at Chesapeake,” she says, and felt that if they could learn from the Ricoh consultant and Kofax engineers, the team would be better prepared to meet future requirements for imaging and capture within the company. With that goal in mind, they asked the consultant to build the first few batch classes onsite while IT staff essentially looked over his shoulder. Then IT staff built the next few batch classes with the consultant looking over their shoulder. Bray says this “knowledge transfer” process worked well, and she was impressed by how everyone came together to support the company in a collaborative environment: “I felt like it was a joint effort with a circle of companies wrapping themselves around this one project.”
Initially, the team built 34 batch classes for various departments across the company. Today, the Imaging Center has developed 165 batch classes and serves virtually every department across the company, including its Accounting, Revenue, Land, Water Tracking, Production Control, Business Development, Pipeline and Division Order groups. On average, the Imaging Center now captures over 1 million pages per month.
“One thing we liked immediately about Kofax Capture,” Bray remembers, “was its ease of use.” Besides being intuitive for her employees, Kofax Capture enables automation of most of the functionality that personnel previously handled manually, and much of that functionality occurs “behind the scenes,” Bray says. As a result, personnel working in the Imaging Center can focus on the capture module and, when needed, verification and validation. This enables them to process documents for internal customers much faster and with fewer manual steps. They also heavily rely on validation lookups to their department systems to confirm that the number being indexed—with either zonal OCR, Kofax Transformation or manual indexing—is a valid number for the company.
One group that highlights the way Bray’s department has improved efficiency internally is the Division Order (DO) group. This group is responsible for working with land owners and leases, a process that involves a large number of documents being mailed, scanned and archived in a document repository. In 2013, the group manually processed 400,000 division order documents, and it spent hundreds of hours every month indexing these documents and even more time on quality control. Bray felt that if they could reduce the number of touches on each document, the Imaging Center could save the company a significant amount to time and money. And the numbers show that she was right.
The Imaging Center started the DO efficiency process by improving printing, sorting and mailing to reduce paper handling and then used Kofax Capture to capture and process documents much more efficiently. Now when land owners return signed Division Order forms, those documents are delivered directly to the Imaging Center where they’re captured through Kofax and updated to the DO’s electronic repository. Each captured document includes a barcode that contains all indexing requirements, virtually eliminating manual indexing. Kofax provides the ability to tie into the company’s internal systems and databases, thereby enabling captured documents to be validated automatically against the database for accuracy.
The new process has saved hundreds of hours of labor every month for the Division Order group, the Imaging Center and the Mailroom, as well as cutting postage costs by $9,000 per month.
Although the Imaging Center has accomplished a great deal since implementing Kofax solutions, Bray says they are continuing to looking for ways to create more efficiencies and cost savings: “We are utilizing a large variety of features that Kofax offers, but we realize we are not using 100% of the software’s capabilities. We still have room to grow with Kofax.”
Kofax Capture has given the company a standard for capture and imaging while providing the flexibility to meet the needs of each individual department. Kofax Capture and Kofax Transformation have automated what were previously “very manual processes,” says Bray, saving Chesapeake Energy a great deal on labor costs. Because of these benefits, Kofax has assisted the Imaging Center in building confidence with its internal customers, who increasingly rely on Bray’s department to fill all of their capture and imaging needs.
Creating trust with internal customers has in fact been one of the more important—and hard-fought—accomplishments for the Imaging Center, which is built on a shared service model. As with any new process, even one where the benefits are clear, Bray says there was initial resistance from other departments when her team offered to fill their capture needs with the Kofax solution.