SSGI Targets Work Flow Market
SSGI Targets Work Flow Market
By Patrick Seitz, Senior Editor
Software Systems Group Inc. executives hope to make a splash in the growing government market for work flow applications, keying their initial product push to electronic Freedom of Information Act (E-FOIA) response systems.
The Springfield, Va.-based company's E-FOIA product draws on nearly seven years of experience writing custom software for work flow systems for federal agencies, company officials said.
"Federal agencies have a tremendous need for E-FOIA systems. Right now, these groups are still in the dark ages," said David Holliday, chief executive officer and director of software development for SSGI, which he founded in 1992.
Responding to FOIA requests from citizens and the media is a time-consuming, manual process at most agencies, but SSGI's product automates that process, said Holliday. The company already is negotiating the sale of its solution to two federal agencies, he added.
SSGI officials plan to debut the product at the E-Gov conference in Washington, June 28-July 1.
The company is working on a Web interface for its E-FOIA product in partnership with Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash., and Olympus Group Inc. of Alexandria, Va. The end-to-end, Web-based system will require only a browser to request information and fill out forms.
Competing products require users to download forms and open them with other applications on their desktop computers, said Holliday, 38, who was a program manager for Science Applications International Corp. before starting a firm to provide high-end consulting services to systems integrators.
Software Systems Group also is in talks with three integrators interested in selling the product. They are: Kajax Engineering Inc. of Arlington, Va.; McNeil Technologies Inc., Springfield, Va.; and TechLaw Inc., Chantilly, Va.
Company officials expect to put their E-FOIA product on the General Services Administration schedule within three months. The company currently has a GSA schedule for software services.
Employee-owned SSGI pulled in $2.3 million in revenue in 1998 and is projected to make $3.5 million this year.
About 90 percent of the company's sales are with the public sector, primarily the federal government. Services will continue to make up the bulk of the company's sales for the foreseeable future, Holliday said.
Company officials this year hope to sell 200 to 300 seats of their E-FOIA product at $1,000 a seat. In 2000, SSGI executives are aiming to sell 1,000 seats.
Frank Colletta, director of sales and marketing at SSGI, said the E-FOIA business is being helped by Vice President Al Gore's reinventing government initiative. Products such as the company's E-FOIA offering can improve service to the citizen, he said.
The company's new product thrust should help SSGI win some attention after years of working behind the scenes for such systems integrators as DynCorp of Reston, Va.; Electronic Data Systems Corp. of Plano, Texas; and SAIC of San Diego.
"We are trying to poke our head out from behind their backs," Colletta said.
Software Systems Group's primary competition in the E-FOIA market is Vredenberg, a Reston, Va.-based systems integrator, Holliday said.
Vredenberg uses a proprietary system for its product, while SSGI works with an agency's existing infrastructure, he said.
SSGI's product will be compatible with standard document management and imaging formats, including products from PC Docs Inc. of Burlington, Mass., and Diamond Head Software Inc. of Richardson, Texas, Holliday said.
Jim Kranda, procurement analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency, said the EPA plans to run a pilot project by this fall using Software Systems Group's E-FOIA. Transition to an operational system could take a year, he said.
EPA officials like the product's work flow functions, Web interface and document redaction capabilities, and are interested to see how well it performs, Kranda said.
The core tools behind the E-FOIA system will be useful for other work flow applications, including correspondence control by commercial customers, he said.
Companies can use SSGI's Electronic Process Management framework for tracking questions, complaints and comments to gauge overall customer satisfaction, he said.
The company previously has developed custom systems for tracking correspondence, tasks and contracts for customers such as the House of Representatives, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the EPA and the International Monetary Fund.