Monday, April 14, 2014

Some issues with storage in Sharepoint

Storage is one of the most prickly topics related to document management systems. Not all of them have been designed in the most optimal way to handle large quantities of documentation.

Below, we’ll go over the difficulties that SharePoint has in that regard.

The way in which SQL Server stores its content:
As you’ll know, Microsoft uses SQL Server as its database manager (SGBD). Most content and documents that we store in SharePoint are saved in this SGBD as a “BLOB”, a type that saves large-size binary data, and which can be accessed using indices. Since it’s not used as references for content (content itself is stored in the database), access to the data is fairly taxing for the system. BLOB-type SQL databases make up 95% of the size of Sharepoint and those, for sure, do tend to have a fairly large size.

The increase in use of large-size media formats
It hasn’t been that long since document management systems stopped being just for document. Truth is, the term “document manager system” is a term which is used indiscriminately, mostly in Spain and in some Spanish-speaking countries. Companies don’t just store documents. They have other digital assets, like videos, audio files and presentation. As such, it’s more accurate to talk about Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems.

SharePoint hasn’t been found to be optimized for the management of this type of files, which stand out for their large sizes in most cases. One easy way of detecting this problem is to see how, in the middle of a request, the search engine will send back a screenshot that tells us that the server is taking a long time to respond.

Problems of scalability in terms of hardware
As we’ve explained in previous sections, the growth of data in SharePoint has been fairly fast, and with it has been the hardware requirements for storing and processing this volume of data. We should add to that the restrictive technical specifications for SharePoint which are not known for their high level of compatibility.



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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Press Release: Smart Document Management Makes the Employee Hiring Process Paper-Free

Managing the hiring of new employees is a process that, today, offers many challenges for companies. Some of these challenges include examples such as the sensitivity of managed documentation; the slowness that happens when workers and companies are not in the same geographic location; and the need to exchange documents among the worker, the company and external players in the process.

All of these difficulties are related to the fact that managing the hiring new employees is done in most companies today by using paper documents. The nature of paper makes it difficult (or even impossible) to have goals like not having duplicate documents, sharing documents instantly, having traceability of all actions taken with documents, etc.

Given these limitations, many companies are now looking for options in the digital world for recruitment processes that are more efficient, safe and fast-working. Athento has helped some companies (and their HR departments) to make the process of hiring a 100% digital process. This is the reason why we have published a case study which explains how these paperless processes can be carried out, and what the benefits are for businesses.

According to José Luis de la Rosa:

"There are a number of business processes that can be done more efficiently with intelligent document management. Athento is making a significant effort to document cases of customers who are already seeing these improvements, and can be helpful for companies that want to improve their processes but don’t know how to do it.” 

To publicize these cases, the company uses its Resource Center, where these documents can be downloaded for free. The case study of digital management of staffing is now available from this section of the Athento website.






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Monday, April 7, 2014

Digital Asset Management: What is it?

Assets

A digital asset is, for a business, as important as property, money in the bank, a brand, etc. That is to say that it’s an asset because it represents economic value that can be converted into money. Really, what I’ve just described is closer to the definition of an “asset”, as opposed to a “digital asset”, which means that we’ve only got half the definition. Regarding “digital”, well, the only thing we need to understand is that they are electronic files, folders which usually contain videos, images, dossiers and other materials which are usually of great value to the brand or to the company in general terms.

From Document Management to Enterprise Content Management, via Digital Asset Management

Long ago, businesses discovered that documents and their management equaled money, and that’s why document management was created. Documents, however, tend to be files with different characteristics from those of digital assets. These types of files need to be shared, distributed, published, reproduced (as in the case of video or audio). Most document management systems are not prepared to reproduce video or sound. What’s more, they tend to be larger in size, which puts the base structure of the document management system to the test. For example, Sharepoint has serious problems with this because of the way that Server SQL works.

Currently, there are people in businesses who are in charge of managing collections of these types of assets, who invest time in organizing them, searching for them and sharing them: for them, and because document management systems (DMS) right now aren’t optimized to management, that’s given rise to digital asset management systems (DAMS). 

As a concept, document management has come up short, which is why the term enterprise content management, which talks about “content” for grouping documents and the remaining digital assets that businesses have, and which also need to be managed.

So what’s the deal: Is a DAMS better than a DMS?

It depends on the product. Some DMS aren’t optimized, as in the case of Sharepoint (2010 and before); or, indeed, they have specialized modules for every line of business, which is the case with Nuxeo DM and Nuxeo DAM; or  to be ready to manage documents and other digital assets, which is the case with Alfresco (as of version 4).

In the case of Athento, we’re aware that it’s time that businesses changed; and, with them, those digital assets that create value for them. That’s why we’re trying to get closer to the idea of ECM allowing plug-ins for the management of sound and video, among other digital assets.




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Friday, April 4, 2014

Athento and Everis in Chile, in the 5th Justice and Technology Fair

As part of the Seventeenth Ibero-American Conference on Constitutional Justice, the Justice Technology Fair was also held. The fifth edition of the Justice and Technology Fair, held in Santiago, Chile ended on the 31st and brought together judicial authorities from the twenty-three members of the Ibero-American Justice Summit, as well as the judicial authorities from Chilean government agencies, with businesses in the information technology sector.

This is the first time that Athento has participated in this event, and we did it with the help of Everis Chile, a consulting firm that doesn’t need any introduction, since it does business in twelve countries and has almost 11,000 collaborators.

The idea behind us taking part in the event was to introduce Athento to the various government bodies and agencies in Chile and let them know that they can count on a smart document management product that’s capable of covering their needs, just as the product has done with government bodies and private businesses in other countries.

Athento’s presence in Chile is undergoing a period of growth. This year, we have added two new Chilean clients and we are working with various partners in the zone to provide up-close coverage to this Latin American market. We’ll leave you with some photos from the event: 




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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Is Athento open-source? [FAQs]

This is a question that we’ve been asked by several of our readers and by several businesses that are interested in Athento. First off, it would be a good idea to clarify certain terms. In accordance with the Open Source initiative, and in order for each software application to be considered as Open Source, it specifically needs to meet certain requirements:
  • Free Redistribution: The software can be sold or distributed as part of other software. What’s more, the sale or distribution of that software does not create the obligation for anyone to pay the software’s creator.
  • Source code that is available and redistributable: The program must include the source code and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. If it doesn’t include it, it should at least provide the capability to download it, without charging more than a “reasonable reproduction cost”.
  • Redistributable derived works: Users should be able to carry out development derived from this software, and the results have to be able to be distributed with the same license as the original.
  • Author’s Source Code only has integrity if patch files are used: The license can ONLY restrict distribution of the modified source code when the software permits distribution of patch files, with the aim of modifying the program in build time. In other cases, it should be explicitly permitted to distribute software that has been developed starting from the original software. The license can also require that the modified software uses another name, or a different version, from the original software.
  • The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
  • There cannot be any restrictions against fields of endeavor: The license must permit the software to be used in any field (business, research, etc.)
  • The rights associated with the license apply to any person or organization to which the software has been redistributed.
  • The rights of the license cannot be specifically applied to one particular distribution of the software. Everyone who uses the redistributed software will have the same rights as the users of the original software.
  • The license cannot impose restrictions on other software:The operating system of the software cannot, for example, oblige someone to only use open-source software in conjunction with the program being distributed.
To sum up, we consider a software to be an open-source software when any person or entity can redistribute, copy or modify the program for any final use (commercial or not) and without having to request permission(s) or pay money to do so. Let’s get to Athento’s license. Athento is found under the “Athento Shared Source License”. The terms of Athento’s license do not match the same as would be considered for open-source software, but the license gives us enormous benefits compared to licensed software working under the “proprietary software” model. These benefits include access to the code and the capacity to modify the code (to provide a couple of examples.) Specifically, what Athento’s license allows us to do is:

Software redistribution
Copying or redistribution of the software, including its source code or its compiled form, are not permitted.

Source Code

Accessible. Can be downloaded, studied and compiled.

Derived Works

Including part or all of Athento’s software in other software requires the express authorization of YERBABUENA SOFTWARE. Users can perform modifications to the code, compile it, and use the compiled versions.

Discrimination

The terms of the license apply to every person, group, organization or field of application.

Integrity of the Author’s Source Code

The license permits modification of the original code, but does not accept responsibility for damage arising from the use or modification of the product.

You can see more details about Athento’s license by visiting Athento’s web page.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brand Asset Management with Athento

Although we always relate document management with “traditional” documents, we can’t forget that this document management only forms part of something bigger and more complex: Enterprise Content Management.

This makes more sense today than ever, as businesses work with a large number of digital assets, and not just with PDFs or Word documents. They also work with images, videos, audio recordings, plans, etc. Within the management of digital assets, there’s a small field which is beginning to gain force in the business world: Brand Asset Management.

Brand Asset Management is a very focused view for ECM, since it means the management of business content that belongs to the brand (logos, images, videos, visual material, etc.), throughout its life cycle. One of the factors that has contributed the most to the rapid growth of this small field within Digital Asset Management is that, these days, activities related to marketing, advertising, graphic design and the like are more and more externalized. Few businesses work internally on their brand assets, while the majority source out this production, so that many outside people end up taking part in the process.

I’ll give you an example. A business wants to re-make its brand image. It assigns the re-design of its logo, its web and a corporate video to an advertising agency. The agency has to share different versions with the client while it’s working on the logo, the design of the new web page, the video, etc. How do you carry out version control?

Another example: A franchise has to share all of the graphic material that they can use in different geographic areas with other franchisees. How do they share these assets and be sure that they’re using the most up-to-date version?

Think, as well, of an environmental business of a university that has offices in China, Switzerland and Spain, and, in each one of these, the local institution has to guarantee unanimous use with the Swiss head office. How do they guarantee that all of the offices are using the same logo in all of their corporate material?

I promise you: it’s not easy. Even if we didn’t have to share assets, for the team itself that’s creating these things, it’s complicated to maintain the traceability of the asset and control of it, from the time it’s created to the time when it’s archived or shelved.

I’ll leave you with a presentation that shows how Athento can help us with this. 




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Monday, March 17, 2014

Document Management and Human Resources Management

There are a number of problems associated with documents used in managing people, in such functions as recruiting, selection, training or other administrative processes associated with staff.

Some examples of document-related difficulties that can come up with these processes include:
  • Some of the processes are very paper-intensive.
  • Administrative tasks take up a lot of time.
  • Accessing and recovering all the documents related to an employee is complex.
  • When a company is hiring for a position, a large number of resumes are received, and it’s complex to get information on the candidates who have the right set of skills.
  • Companies need to meet regulations and guarantee the privacy of the information of the candidates.  
  • It’s complex to properly maintain and centralize all of the material related to employee training.
  • Employees should submit documentation during the hiring process; and, similarly, receive information (which might be generated internally or externally).
All of these problems can be tackled by using a document management system. For example:
  • Paper-intense processes:  An ECM system helps us manage the documentation digitally.
  • Administrative tasks that take up too much time: Simply eliminating paper from processes can create reductions in the time needed to carry out processes; in addition, however, by implementing simple revision work flows, we can cut the amount of dead time when a document moves from one person to another. 
  • Accessing all of employee’s documentation: We can organize our documents within the system so that we can access all of the documentation related with an employee during his or her entire career with the organization from one specific source. In other words, we can have the employee’s entire HR file in digital format.  
  • Security and privacy: An ECM or document management system allows us to get traceability with all the things that happen to a document and to use permissions to control access to documents.
  • Keep training materials up-to-date and in a central location: Systems like Athento can be integrated with e-learning platforms such as Moodle. What’s more, version control helps us avoid having multiple versions of material and keep just one up-to-date copy. An ECM systm can also help us understand which documents are valid and which ones have expired.
  • Help with the hiring process: Smart document management tools allow us to automate processes like the automatic identification of resume, navigation using tags that are automatically extracted that make it easier to access information; the capacity to use metadata and searches to get to CVs that fit just what we’re looking for when we’re hiring for a job, etc.
In the success case of our client, Volotea, you can read about how the company controls the validity of the documentation it uses in their training courses.




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