Stable. That’s the word that best describes the constant high quality of the drinking water that Evides supplies to its customers. And it also describes the systems the company uses. These systems all contribute to the water company’s work processes in their own unique way, such as DocuFlow from Documizers, which Evides uses to automate document processes.
Clean and safe drinking water is a primary necessity of life. It is Evides’ top priority to deliver great-tasting, sustainably produced and healthy tap water to consumers. To make that happen, Evides’ Drinking Water System Monitoring department (CDWI by their Dutch initials) closely monitors all companies in their service area that are involved in supplying the drinking water on to employees, customers or patients, for example, through a safe drinking water system. Christa Barto, the department’s data manager, is responsible for making sure that all the details needed for that are accurate. Seeing as there are 2.5 million customers in total, we are talking a large number of business users and a lot of data.
Automated document processes
The drinking water that comes out of the tap in Evides’ service area is of top quality. ‘It simply couldn’t be better,’ says Barto. Where there was room for improvement, however, was in the (administrative) processes relating to the primary water supply process. In 2012, Evides launched a major IT project called ‘Waterkracht’ (which means ‘hydropower’ in Dutch) to reduce the total number of applications they were using, some of which they had built themselves, to five large standard applications. In total, roughly one hundred processes were automated, and the CDWI department also automated the document processes.
A single interface
Evides selected Documizers for the latter and it was not a difficult choice. ‘There were basically only two companies in the whole world that could meet our requirements. An American-based company and Documizers,’ says IT employee Peter Rijkhoek, who is responsible for the technical management of various applications. ‘The main requirement was that we wanted inspectors to be able to generate documents and archive them without having to launch all kinds of systems, so basically without them having to do extra work.’ And we now have that capability. ‘All the software we use has been integrated into the interface,’ says Rijkhoek. ‘Employees start it up and the software takes it from there. They have no idea that DocuFlow from Documizers is there in the background making sure the document processes run so smoothly.’ Barto concurs laughingly: ‘I’m a real user, I know what I have to do myself, but when it comes to things running in the background, I call Peter.’
There were basically only two companies in the whole world that could meet our requirements. An American-based company and Documizers
Even though the exact way DocuFlow works in the background remains a mystery to many users, its effects are crystal-clear. Letters, emails, notices and reports are made, sent and archived automatically. ‘Whenever an inspector assigns a certain status to a drinking water system, for example, several processes are triggered automatically. A letter is generated through several interface functions, which is subsequently printed or emailed to the customer, and then automatically filed in the document management system,’ Barto explains. ‘If a heightened risk of legionella growth has been detected, the file is also forwarded to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management’s Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate, and after they have looked at it, the process continues automatically. I have been working with this system as a key user for a couple of years now and I must say a whole new world has opened up for me. It is amazing how many things it can do, and I don’t have to ‘worry’ about any of it, because it works perfectly!’
I have been working with this system as a key user for a couple of years now and I must say a whole new world has opened up for me. It is amazing how many things it can do, and I don’t have to ‘worry’ about any of it, because it works perfectly!
It wasn’t better before
It’s a big difference compared to before the ‘Waterkracht’ project, he continues. ‘We would send letters from templates in Word. Everyone would put together their own letters or emails the best they could. It wasn’t unusual to have letters that were five pages long, littered with spelling mistakes and confusing language, sometimes hard to understand for customers, and that all kinds of managers and secretaries had to sign off on before they could be sent.’ ‘We have a statutory duty to guarantee the quality of the drinking water we supply and to monitor the systems,’ explains Rijkhoek. ‘We wanted to be more transparent on our work and inspections towards our customers.’ ‘It is quite tricky, because it is always inconvenient for customers when we come over to conduct our compulsory inspections,’ adds Barto. ‘By reporting and corresponding on these inspections quickly and meticulously, we are managing to keep our customers satisfied and build good relationships.’
‘Aside from that, we wanted to make things easier for ourselves,’ says Rijkhoek. ‘We now have a system that is “monkey-proof”: if someone makes a mistake, they are corrected right away. We are now working with consistent data in the form of fixed text blocks in DocuFlow that the inspectors can select as appropriate, such as to report problems detected in a drinking water system.’ ‘The fact that our communications with customers have been streamlined saves us a lot of time and phone calls,’ explains Barto. ‘Besides, the automated archiving itself already eliminated quite a number of problems. Employees can no longer mislay their reports, and information is easier to find in a document. All kinds of intermediate steps have been eliminated from the process; we are faster and more professional.’
Barto: Besides, the automated archiving itself already eliminated quite a number of problems. Employees can no longer mislay their reports, and information is easier to find in a document. All kinds of intermediate steps have been eliminated from the process; we are faster and more professional.
Stable, reliable, transparent
Rijkhoek worked together closely with Documizers to implement the system. ‘A standard application was the basic aim, but we actually ended up creating a solution together that Evides needed,’ he says. ‘It was rather difficult initially, because I lacked knowledge of the system. And Documizers was a new partner for us, and smaller than the partners we usually work with. That said, if we didn’t have full confidence that they could do it, we would never have chosen them, but it still takes some getting used to. Gradually, we developed a good, pleasant working relationship and we were in close contact for a long time. It has ultimately led to a stable, reliable and transparent system that we have learned to manage ourselves with considerable ease; we are fairly self-supporting by now. In fact, this system allows us to be. We don’t have to worry about it and continuity is guaranteed.’
Experience gained with implementations at companies including Evides in 2012 played a major part in further development of the systems for Documizers. Documizers’ Jack Kuijper explains: ‘2015 saw us launch DocuFlow, which is all about optimising processes. Even though document creation is also a part of that, of course, it is subordinate to the whole process. This is based on our vision that optimising your document processes is the only way to achieve efficiency.’
The Evides water company supplies safe, reliable drinking water to 2.5 million customers and businesses in Zeeland, south-western Zuid-Holland and the Brabantse Wal area 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Aside from that, Evides offers customised industrial water services to major industrial customers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The Evides water company is owned by public-sector shareholders (local and provincial authorities). The CDWI department employs fifteen people.