This Energy Co-op Reduced Their FOI Process Time from Weeks to Minutes


Screen Shot 2020-08-28 at 10.58.19 AMAll images in this articles courtesy of Cobb EMC.

“Previously, our organization’s information was siloed and we weren’t able to search from one place." 

This was an obstacle that Cobb EMC,  a member-owned electric cooperative,  faced with their information management and day-to-day tasks. Having their information stored across multiple locations resulted in difficulty discovering and accessing content, lengthy disposition reviews, costly user-dependent processes, and more. 

To lower their administrative overhead and  streamline processes such as FOI response times, this team implemented new policies and a solution to successfully acquire visibility across platforms and unify content discovery.

How did they do it? We'll share three major challenges that Cobb faced and how they overcame them. To learn the full story of their challenges, implementation process and victories, you can access Cobb's  success story below.


With previous content management systems and physical storage of documents, Cobb experienced the following limitations:

1.  Lack of Modern ECM Policy = Too Much Retention

Prior to this project, Cobb had an outdated Enterprise Content Management policy that lacked guidelines around digital. Common practice was to save all content. This resulted in a large number of digital and physical objects being retained, at times redundantly, so Cobb had limited visibility to what was actually stored.

2.  Siloed Information Limited Discovery

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Cobb internal staff also had difficulty searching for the content they needed. For example, similar information within their customer service platform had become siloed into two locations based on time period and the Cobb internal team could not search across locations for unified results.

3. Lack of Holistic Search Capabilities

One of Cobb’s biggest challenges was lacking a solution that could search structured and unstructured data within their major content repositories.

The previous system used contained a plethora of documents from across the business so it became unyielding and difficult when searching for content/historical artifacts. Search was not only slow, but could only surface native content stored system by system and not from external file shares. Fulfilling processes such as an Freedom of Information (FOI) request could anywhere from two weeks to several months.

Breaking Point

With the prior systems and content management practices, Cobb found itself with discovery challenges that were costly and left the organization at unnecessary risk. Cobb began updating their retention policies and searching for an appropriate solution to set everything into motion.

They selected Collabware as the vendor/partner of choice for their cloud-based solution, Collabspace.  Upon selection of Collabspace as their new system, Cobb EMC’s internal IT team worked with the Collabware Services Team to implement Collabspace and improve their overall ECM processes in the following ways:


1. Ensure Compliance and Improve Business Practices

Working with Collabware offered Cobb EMC the flexibility to adapt to changing business requirements while meeting corporate policies and remaining compliant to industry, federal and state regulations. Unifying content onto a WORM-compliant, ransomware-proof platform not only improved discovery for all content types, but provided access to automated document lifecycle workflows and review lists to simplify and streamline their disposition review process.

2. Unifying Search Results into One View

For the first time, Cobb now has access and visibility across content platforms from one straightforward interface. Previously reliant upon physical storage, they can now harness their information in a searchable environment while still retaining required physical copies. This was a major step towards reducing the previous warehouse content clutter.

"Collabspace brought us the ability to search across systems. Not only can our internal staff use the discovery tools to find information they need, but we are able to set permissions to secure content and streamline organizational processes.

3. Fast and Accurate Discovery with Search Templates, OCR, and Transcription

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With Collabspace, Cobb is well on their way to fulfilling their master plan of making everything searchable, no matter what system the content is in. Both unified search and the customizable shareable search templates ensure results accuracy and expedite previously lengthy discovery processes, such as fulfilling FOI requests. For example, an employee records search that would have taken the Cobb team anywhere from weeks to months to fulfill based on previous content stacking can now be completed within Collabspace within minutes.

By implementing Collabspace, Cobb EMC was able to employ compliant business policies, unify content within one view, and improve eDiscovery with optimized, cross-platform search and shareable search templates. This not only mitigated risk, saved costs, and took pressure off of the IT team, but has empowered internal staff to work more autonomously, efficiently, and better serve their Member Owners and the community.

Our customers' success is our success! Check out the full story of Cobb's prior challenges, breaking point, search and implementation process, and victories here:

COBB EMC Case Study


Can you relate to Cobb's prior challenges? Contact us, let's chat about how we can support your team and improve your information governance, data discovery and overall business process needs:


This article was originally published August 2020 and has since been updated.


Tagged: Automation, Collabspace, Case Studies, Services

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