Institute of Gas Technology
The Institute of Gas Technology (IGT) is an independent, not-for-profit energy research center serving the major providers and users of natural gas -- electric utility companies, engineering and construction firms, equipment manufacturers and large energy users. Founded in 1941 and located in Des Plaines, Illinois, IGT, with a staff of 150, conducts a wide range of research and education initiatives, from laboratory investigations on energy utilization and environmental protection, to full-scale, pilot-plant implementations as well as comprehensive education programs on gas technology.
IGT is a document-driven organization. "We've always passed around a lot of paperwork," says Tom Sheridan, director of information systems. "For years, people working on a research or education project exchanged documents and reports manually, making the flow of information both time-consuming and difficult to manage. "Project time sheets (required for accountability to government and industry funding sources) have been an especially tedious, paper-driven chore for everyone. Staff members filled them out, their supervisors approved them, and the accounting department collected and kept track of all the paperwork on a daily basis. "We needed a system that could automate time sheet tracking and other business processes, give us electronic collaboration capabilities and allow us to manage information flow more efficiently."
Working with Automation Centre of Tucson, Arizona, Sheridan selected Lotus Notes, the leading groupware platform, as IGT's collaborative computing solution. Automation Centre provided IGT with Tracker Suite, a series of Lotus Notes applications that automate and improve many basic business processes.
Sheridan and Automation Centre selected time sheets -- a process that touches everyone at IGT every day -- as the logical place to start a Notes deployment. Automation Centre representatives first met with staff members at all levels to map the associated paper flow and identify the needs of both users and the organization at large. Automation Centre then tailored Tracker Suite's Time Tracker application to create an easy-to-use electronic process for filling out and approving time sheets and for posting the accrued time to IGT's Oracle financial system.
- Time Tracker, like the other Tracker Suite applications, features a user-friendly in-box, out-box format. IGT staff members can log their daily hours for a particular project from any location, in the office or in the field.
- Templates and validation profiles for each staff member ensure that hours are filled out correctly and charged to the proper project account. Time Tracker automatically forwards the electronic time sheet to the proper supervisor for approval, using an electronic "key" or signature to ensure authenticity.
- The application allows IGT to track billable and non-billable time and activities by staff member, project, time period and individual task. Analyses and reports based on this information can be generated instantly and distributed electronically throughout the enterprise to whoever needs it.
Following the successful implementation of Time Tracker, IGT has deployed three more Tracker Suite solutions: Expense Tracker, Purchase Tracker and Project Tracker. The four applications, along with a custom budget tracking solution developed by Automation Centre, will be integrated with IGT's back-end systems.
The Benefits Accelerated Administrative Processes/ Increased Employee Productivity
Tracker Suite applications have significantly reduced paperwork and streamlined many time-consuming administrative processes at IGT, freeing the staff to focus on research, education and consulting -- the real work of the institute. According to Sheridan. "The system's biggest boosters are the people who are using the applications. Tracker Suite has eliminated unnecessary work, saved time and provided everyone with timely, accurate and higher-quality information."
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