CEO Image Systems is a company I've been following since 2001. I first came across the firm while I was researching material for my first book, Virtual Office News for a High Margin Practice, co-authored by Financial Advisor magazine practice management guru David Drucker.

At the time, CEO was beta testing a new document management product called Executive Assistant, which was targeted at solo practices and ensemble practices of up to roughly eight employees. Upon final release, the product garnered a strong recommendation from our T3 newsletter for its strong feature set, ease of use and highly competitive price. Since then, CEO Image Systems has gained a loyal following among price-sensitive advisors who put a high value on customer service.

Recently, the company invited me to test their new Image Executive product. The application is very scalable: It can be deployed in a single-user environment, but it is equally capable of serving thousands of users and storing millions of documents. With a base price of $499 for a single user, Image Executive is affordable to firms of all sizes, so I was eager to see how it compares to previous CEO products, as well as some competing packages.

As was the case with PaperPort Professional 12, the subject of last month's review, Image Executive allows advisors to operate more productively, to become more organized, more efficient and more environmentally friendly. Like PaperPort, Image Executive offers a more secure method of managing documents than paper, but Image Executive's security features go far beyond PaperPort's, and its filing and retrieval capabilities far exceed PaperPort's as well.

Image Executive is built on state-of-the-art technology, incorporating .NET, XML, AJAX and SQL. It's equally suitable for a stand-alone installation or for a multi-site enterprise configuration. This is particularly attractive to newer or smaller firms with growth ambitions because it means that you will not need to change applications as your enterprise grows; you can simply add users to the existing installation.
The filing system is highly configurable. CEO usually handles this task, but let's walk through it to examine the software's capabilities. Your document repository starts at the company level. Most advisory firms store all records under a single company, but if a firm operates under a multi-company structure, for example a B-D and an RIA, a separate company can be maintained for each. Within a company, there are departments. A company can have an unlimited number of departments. Within departments there are folders, and within folders there are documents.

You might set up a department for client records. Within this department, you could set up a folder for each client. A small firm might set up one department for internal corporate records; a larger firm would create separate departments for accounts payable, accounts receivable, etc. Each department can designate it as a WORM (write once, read many) department or not. All records within WORM departments become unalterable the minute they are filed. That does not mean you can't edit a document. You can edit it after scanning it and before filing it, but once it is filed each change made is recorded in the audit trail and each version of the document is stored so that a full history of each document is available.

Once a storage structure is established, you create users and functions. An administrator might have permission to maintain companies, departments, create new users, give permission for different users to work on various tasks, etc. You could create a role called "scanner/filer" and allow those employees to scan files and view documents. Others might get permission only to view. These roles, once created, can be assigned to multiple employees at the company level, at the department level, for each folder or even for each document. So if an employee doesn't generally need to view documents in more than one department, then that's all he or she would be allowed to do. Furthermore, since each user has a unique identifier, an employer can easily audit user action within the system.

Employers can also give permission to individuals to edit a document, print, run reports, import, export, edit a description, edit retention policies, edit indices, change folders, add notes, delete notes and add annotations.

You can also set up retention codes. A code can be applied to individual documents automatically. For example, you can instruct the system to assign a specific retention code by default to a department or to a folder. Of course, you can also manually assign retention policies to individual documents or override defaults as needed, as long as you have the proper authorization.

Image Executive has a highly sophisticated and configurable filing/retrieval system. To begin with, you can assign indices to each folder. Why would you want to do this? Let's say you want to create a folder for each client. Perhaps you want to see whether you have a copy of the client's trust documents. You could create an index called "Trust Docs" and require a value of "yes" or "no." If you want to find out which clients you do not have trust documents for, you can simply search for client folders marked "no."

First « 1 2 3 » Next