Natural Gas’ toughest task: pulling it all together

The Natural Gas Corporation is heading down the track toward moving paper-based processes online with the long-term goal to implement a full document management solution. But the first step is getting controlled documents across the company's intranet.

The Natural Gas Corporation is heading down the track toward moving paper-based processes online with the long-term goal to implement a full document management solution. But the first step is getting controlled documents across the company’s intranet.

This is no mean feat as the organisation — which bought out TransAlta last year — boasts 800 staff members spread across nine areas. “We are working on some programmes and are looking short-term at a document control database for policies and procedures,” says corporate services manager Joanne O’Connor.

Merging the two companies poses some challenges for the project — as they have different policies and procedures for handling processes — with the biggest being timing.

“We’re still trying to pull everything together so it’s at a very awkward stage as we’re working through so many issues … The biggest thing is time availability to focus on it — the risk manager is having to work through and get buy-in from, and in fact go out and consult, other major areas of the business.”

Risk manager Chris Peace says his chief interest in this project is ensuring essential records can be located for various purposes.

“It’s not uncommon to find someone who leaves and things they wrote about or agreed upon have some influence in the future. If you can’t find any record of what they wrote you could be in a difficult position.

“My interest is to ensure we have a system that’s good enough to enable us to retrieve documents or agreements of any description, not simply formal contracts, but informal agreements so we can see where we’ve got commitments.”

Because Peace believes a key starting point toward the long-term DM goal is document control, a consultant has been brought in to help work out its procedure.

The company went to Information Specialists for a database that could handle images and detailed indexing and is considering the DBText product for a document control database. The two sides of the business that have come together to form the new NGC will both be using DBText. There is a legacy of using it reasonably successfully.

“In the short term we may use DBText and if in the long term it’s capable of providing a total document management solution in the system, then fine,” says Pearce. “But over the next two to three years we’ve got to migrate ourselves to one system that runs across all parts of the business.”

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