Fortis Document Management
By Ann Saban, OIT
What is Fortis?
Fortis is a document management system that was chosen as one of the products to be used in Maine state government as an enterprise service. The State began using Fortis in 1996 as one solution for document imaging, storage and content management. The State had approximately 10 separate installations of Fortis at that time. In 2007, the Enterprise Applications service area within the Office of Information Technology (OIT) formed a team to migrate all existing Fortis systems that were installed on separate servers into an enterprise environment. This consolidation effort saved on license fees and ensures a consistent set of practices for use of Fortis when applied across State government. The Enterprise Document Management team (currently consisting of two people) has since migrated all Fortis installations into one enterprise system. They have also developed many new projects for existing and new Fortis customers. The Fortis support team is fully responsible for the business analysis, gathering the requirements of a new project, writing the project charter, managing the project, development, training, and support of the system. The team consults with agency business managers to explore how Fortis can meet their needs. There are currently over 1000 people using Fortis across the State. Fortis supports more than 13 agencies doing more than 30 projects and contains over seven million documents. This amount increases by thousands of documents each day. Most users are accessing documents through FortisWeb which allows them to securely view documents over the internet.
Fortis has met many business needs across the State. Defense and Veterans Services had a need to grant access to veterans’ electronic records to the Veterans Administration (VA) homes during non-business hours in order to admit their patients. With the use of Fortis Portal, the VA homes had secure access to those records any time of the day or night. Accounting, within the Office of the Controller, needed to distribute reports and financial records to 140 agencies across State government. The use of Fortis combined with Planet Press allows for an integrated solution to route electronic documents to various departments in a time critical manner without human intervention. Due to these documents being of a confidential nature, Fortis provides the security that is needed with additional audit tracking capabilities. The Department of Public Safety Crime Lab utilizes Fortis to store all images and audio files of crime scene investigations. They had the need to automate a process where the troopers’ submissions of digital photos and audio files would automatically be indexed and stored. The Fortis team worked hand in hand with the programmers at the Crime Lab to make that happen. They also use Fortis to burn DVDs of these documents to send to defense attorneys and the Attorney General’s Office as part of the discovery process.
Customers using Fortis today include; Controllers Office, Bureau of Purchases, Employment & Securities Service Center, Department of Education, Defense and Veterans Services, Fire Marshals’ Office, Public Safety’s Crime Lab, Employment & Securities’ Human Resource Department, the State’s Postal Center, Treasury, Employee Health & Benefits, Office of Information Technology, Maine Revenue Services, and Professional and Financial Regulation.
Fortis is capable of handling all document management needs including optical character recognition capabilities, bar code recognition, full text searching, integration into Microsoft Office products, and workflow management. Fortis is able to handle storing virtually all document types.
The following are testimonials from current Fortis customers:
Defense and Veterans Services - “The Fortis system has proven to be a valuable tool for our Bureau. It has been a tremendous time saver in being able to locate records quickly in response to requests for military discharge documents. Our seven field offices, the Maine Veterans' Memorial Cemetery System are using the Fortis Power Web and the Maine Veterans' Homes and the Veterans Administration folks are using the Fortis Portal system, which allows them to instantly access military discharges for determining various veterans' benefits without having to wait until our office has the time to look up the records. In the past all of these requests were handled by one person in our office and often we would have a backlog waiting to be processed causing a delay for medical enrollment through the VA, filing a claim for disability with the VA, the inability to accept a veteran into one of the Maine Veterans' Homes, etc. Our Bureau staff is very pleased with the exceptional service that we have received and we have had very few minor problems with this system. It rarely goes down and typically the only problems we have are network related issues, which are not caused by Fortis. The quality of the scanned images and the ability to adjust them is excellent. I can't say enough good about Fortis. All of the users we have setup for this program are extremely satisfied with the ability to access the records when needed rather than having to wait until our office has a chance to look them up. In fact, this system has proven so well for us with accessing our discharge records that we are now scanning all of our education and cemetery records as well. Additionally, I use the Fortis system for retrieving copies of invoices, journals, etc and am extremely pleased with this aspect of it as well.” – Nancy Plourde
Public Safety’s Crime Lab – “Just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate the work that you (Dan) and Ann have done assisting us with our digital file management needs. The document management application that you have installed and configured to meet our needs has worked extremely well. We now have a system that can work seamlessly with our Digital File Mover application to receive original digital audio and digital photo files from the field and store them in a manner for efficient retrieval. The recent modifications to allow automatic populating of fields in the FORTIS database has freed up considerable time by reducing data entry. It also means fewer errors in subsequent searches for files whereas the human element has been removed from data entry. The Quality Control processes and automatic notification of new files being entered provide an extra layer of comfort that the system is performing well. Thank you for a high quality product and exceptional service. It has been a pleasure to work with you and to see how well you have worked with our MSP IT staff.” – Lt. William Harwood
Division of Purchases – “The Division of Purchases has been using the Fortis imaging solution for several years. In FY 2008 the division scanned over 7000 procurement documents into Fortis. The integration of Fortis into our business model has allowed us to adjust our archive schedule and reduce the retention of paper documents on site. Frequently departments request copies, contracts or amendments and we are able to expeditiously send them an imaged copy of their document. The Department of Transportation and components of the Bureau of General Services relies heavily of the imaging functionality provided by Fortis. Additionally the Fortis team has developed a virtual contract routing application for the Division of Purchases. When implemented application will make the routing, review and approval of contracts a paperless process.” – Mike Wenzel
Department of Education – “I have been working with the Fortis program for about one year in the Certification office of the Department of Education. This program has helped us tremendously with the organization of our files and efficiently providing customers with support. My supervisor and I are continuously working on the same files and Fortis has enabled us to leave notes in the file (on the applicable page), highlight pertinent information, re-order pages as needed and above all, it has significantly increased our productivity. We are not searching for files, passing them between desks (losing them on desks), or struggling to read handwritten notes. We don’t need to place people on hold to pull their file from a cabinet and therefore increasing the amount of clients we can assist in a day. Fortis has also helped our office with expenses, due to paper usage. Instead of printing off large amounts of paper each day and having a file overflowing with unorganized paper, I am able to print right into Fortis from Word, the internet and Outlook. The support we have received from the Fortis staff has been excellent as well. Dan and Ann have been to our office numerous times to answer questions and solve issues that may arise. They have showed us many short cuts, organized the files to fit our needs perfectly and are always willing to work with us to make Fortis a better program for us.” - Courtney B. Baehr, Certification Office
Professional and Financial Regulation – “The Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection has been using Fortis for more than two years now, and we have experienced very few problems with the system. The system is user-friendly, and our staff learned how to utilize it fairly quickly. The ability to have Fortis installed on each of our desktops has saved our staff a great deal of time in researching paper files and documents. It has also been extremely beneficial to our field staff, which can access Bureau records from their computers while at remote job sites or while completing their work at their home offices.” – Julie Haefele, Consumer Credit Protection.
Anyone interested in look at Fortis to meet their business needs to improve operations and cut costs should contact Ann Saban at 624-7838.