Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Business Process Management is an approach that continuously seeks to improve the business processes of an organization. It implies clearly defining:

  • Core business processes.
  • Workflows required to perform business processes in a more efficient and controlled way.
  • Tasks and / or activities that make up the streams.
The document management tools or Enterprise Content Management often give us the opportunity to define workflows, ie allow us to define a series of activities to complete portions of business processes. 
But doing business process management means looking at the landscape from above, and not focus only on a specific fraction. Means aligning the entire organization (departments, working methods, information systems, etc.) in the pursuit of a common goal.

ECM software can help control small portions of that great landscape that is an organization, but deploying only workflows in our DMS thinking we are doing BPM is letting those workflows without context. 
English: The Business Process Management Life-...
English: The Business Process Management Life-Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Doing BPM means integrating real possibilities of our ECM tools within a much larger frame, which has true communication between ECM software, BPM tools and other tools used in business processes.

 Making this connection undoubtedly also involves establishing a communication vehicle between the applications used throughout the company, and this is where the Enterprise Service Buses (like Athento Platform) make their appearance for connecting BPM and ECM. 

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Intelligent Document Capture vs Documentation Professionals?

By Joaquin Hierro, Document Management Technical Architect

Within the debate on the development of document management professionals, as well as the current and future job opportunities, I find it strange that not nobody ever mentions (as far as I remember) the capture and advanced classifications.
To narrow the type of products and features to which I will refer, we will do a briefly review, although this is known to all.

The early scanning systems controlled the scanner, presented the image and allowed to include metadata about the document but with a closed structure and, at times, without being able to choose the document type and / or metadata to enter.

Gradually, flexibility was introduced to enter various document types with different definitions and, moreover, with the introduction of OCR we could automate the entry of that metadata.

The introduction of OCR (and "specializations" such as OMR, ICR, ...) allowed in one hand the automatic capture of metadata (looking at fixed positions in the document), and in the other, document classification (based on words or logos). But all on structured documents ie forms with structure and fixed positions.

After the possibility of processing semi-structured documents (such as invoices or payrolls) with a more flexible structure than forms (but not fully flexible) the current systems offer more advanced features such as:
  • Treatment of unstructured documents that are different from each other (legal documents, contracts, correspondence, etc..). 
  • No need to separate using blank pages or barcodes, but automatically recognizing the pages in each document. 
  • Mixing documents of different types in the same batch. 
  • Manage autographed documents completely (not only forms that are "hand" completed). 
  • Automatically classify documents based on their content, overall appearance or specified rules (eg contains the word "contract" in the top half of the first page). 
  • Extracting metadata not only using positions (coordinates) on the page but by various criteria such as regular expressions, location markers, comparing with a database, etc..). 
  • File integrity check (do you have all the necessary documents? Are all metadata completed?  Is the field X the same all documents? Do the Y fields sum the amount Z?). 
  • Finally placing the document in the document manager of the institution, using the designated document type and the required assigned metadata defined.

Among the products included in varying capacities as I quoted might include:
  • Kofax KTM
  • Captiva Emc2 
  • Abbyy Flexycapture 
  • A2iA Document Reader 
  • IBM Datacap 
  • Ipsa Lectern 
  • Brainware Distiller 
    That is, we speak of systems to cover the following functions:
  • Receiving a "bunch of papers" 
  • Analyzing the content
  • Paging
  • Classifying each set of pages as a document of a given type
  • Extracting information from different parts of the document itself 
  • Creating the document entry with the extracted data to insert it into a document repository. 

What would we call that position if this was to be performed by a human?

In many of the projects, training and configuration of this type of software is performed by technicians with technology roots and minimal document management knowledge, when I think that the training of these "automatic document management systems" would fit perfectly into the profile and expertise of a specialist in documentation (in some complex cases with a developer team encoding operations that can be parameterized or train).

The point is classifying and systematizing a taxonomy, provide criteria to extract metadata defining when a record or file is complete and in short, give guidelines to a "documentation apprentice" to do its job.

I think it can be considered similar to the process with accounting applications, the accountant now does not "count", instead it will customize the accounting program (or even help you design one). Similarly document management professionals would define the rules and customize the document capture program.
Additionally there is a second phase: although high success rates can be achieved (80% -90%) there's always documents which classification or data capture fails. In that case, a person must review and decide what type of document it is and whether to include it as an example for future entries. Data extraction may require more or less depending on the document and training process, but identifying the type of document requires more knowledge and again it seems ideal for a document management professional.

This "looking away attitude" is not only in one side, manufacturers and companies that work with these products also focus their sights on computer professionals rather than technical document management experts.

What is the origin of this "divorce"? Ignorance? Does it seem like a wasted job opportunity for this DM professionals? Do you consider that this is the right profile?

I think both parties have to approach, allowing some professionals to work in an area poorly covered by them and where they have a lot to say, and companies should have experts in analysis and classification of documents that may be best suited to train their systems.

For more information: http://code.google.com/p/openprodoc/

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Document Management Software Infographics that will blow your mind!

Here are some facts about paper use in the U.S.:

71 million tons of paper are used in the U.S. every year, the equivalent weight of 9 million elephants!!
In offices around the U.S. 10,000 sheets of paper are used each year by the average office worker. This amounts to 4 million tons!

Other reasons to go paperless: saves time, money, space and provides better security.

$10,000 is the estimated savings in a company of 8 employees. This saving can be up to one million dollars a year when it comes to a company of 370 employees.
Alternatives to paper: PDF files, electronic billing and tablets (iPads, Kindle etc.)
Considering going "green" and paperless? Here are some infographics on the benefits of Document Management.

Infografía de gestión documental, ahorro de papel en las empresas

Big companies have many legal teams, in many cases spanning up to 5 different time zones. These legal teams often have to coordinate their efforts and collaborate on work. Document Management Systems allow these teams to work on-line securely creating, editing and collaborating on documents. Let us look at some infographics about the Legal sector (law ​​firms, courts etc.) which consider the savings and benefits of Document Management Systems.

  • 60% of employees use 1h/day duplicating work. 
  • 30% of the documents presented outdated information.
  • Review processes and alerts team keep alert on changes to contracts and other documents. These teams spend 4,000 hours a year searching electronic information stored poorly (without metadata, description etc.) 
  • Employees spend 5 to 15% of their time reading information, but about 50% looking for it!

infografía de Gestión Documental en el entorno Legal

Google Drive, which also has tools for enterprise content management, is a generic solution and does not provide process specific solutions for companies like Athento does. It is a great file share app, with great sync and web interface, but there is no Business Processes Management, no tailorized processes for your company. In short, no customization what so ever.

Paper documents vs. electronic documents, but applied to the world of e-Health (remember that Athento has a vertical called Athento e-Health). To highlight some of the information: 
  • Nurses using EHR (Electronic Health Records) have seen reductions in documentation time by up to 45%. 1000s of tons of paper are consumed by the healthcare industry each year, causing storage issues and environmental harm. 
  • In 2009, independent physician practices using EHR had almost $ 50,000 greater total revenue per full-time physician than practices using paper-based systems.

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Athento and Nuxeo, selected by the National DMV of Spain

The document capture and document management systems Athento and Nuxeo have been chosen by Spain's national Department of Motor Vehicles (DGT) in Spain for a contract worth over one million dollars (750,000 euros). The tender requires implementing a Document Management System that will support more than 150 million documents and records.

The main objective of the project is to modernize and improve the effectiveness of the current document management processes. The system should also comply with the e-Government law of Spain 11/2007 (regarding interoperability standards) and standards relating to the retention and removal of client records.

The new document management system will achieve cost savings of more than 1.3 million dollars (1 million euro) annually.

The DGT is one of the most active government agencies in the updating and commissioning of new technologies throughout Europe. They already have services for on-line registration of vehicles, electronic reporting, electronic payment of fees and penalties. These e-services produce a marked increase in the number of documents and electronic files, and require a technology capable of handling the vast quantity of information. The improved time efficiency of the document management process will allow DGT to deliver a quicker service to citizens and businesses alike.

In addition to a quicker service for external users, employees can perform tasks more efficiently such as searching, editing and collaborating on documents. The architecture of the solution uses the Nuxeo document management tool as a content repository. This is combined with Athento's platform to contribute extra functionality like document capture and interoperability for the compliance of e-Government laws (a mandatory scheme for public administration's interoperability in Spain).

At the application level of DGT's web services and in-house software, third party applications provide services for employees and users. Athento manages how these applications communicate with the content repository. So there is no need to have a single solution for each of these applications as Athento can manage all of them. Thus it provides an optimised solution for storing data from these applications.

 These applications function optimally when there is little or no interfacing software between them and the repository. CMIS defines the standards that these applications should use to communicate with the repository. In the first level (business applications) there are third-party applications, such as portals in use by the DGT to perform procedures with citizens, as well as internal tools they need for storage of strategic documents. 

Using Athento for managing interoperability facilitates communications connectors by implementing, for example, the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) or the connector itself to the electronic signature management.

The chosen solution does innovative things such as document auto-tagging, classification or document type recognition of uploaded business documents (contracts, invoices, types of records etc.) as if it were a human. Thus, it is able to start complex business workflows and procedures intelligently, thereby saving time. Athento will be implemented in the Data Processing Center of the DGT, in Madrid, which manages a document size estimated at 150 million, in a storage space of more than 60 terabytes of information and with the strictest security and integrity measures.

You can:

Some screenshots of the project:

 Improve your enterprise document management with Athento.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Enterprise Search, an ECM concern

Companies produce documents and work with data, content and information that are stored in several systems. If all that amount of content is not accessible, it loses its value as information.

Enterprise Search is a set of software applications and search engines that allow companies to find info through the whole information system within a company. That information system can be compound by different software tools: A Document Management System, File Systems, Intranets, Data Bases, etc.

In an ideal world, companies would have centralized all their content, but in reality, teams keep using on-line file systems (such as Box, Dropbox, Syncplicity, etc.), each business application has its own repository, intranets aren't integrated with the ECM software and they have lots of data bases.

With too many content sources, it becomes very difficult to find the right thing at the right moment.

ECM providers must work to integrate different content sources with the ECM software, seeking the goal that all company's content can be stored in the same ECM repository. This will make possible that Enterprise Search software reaches the right results taking less time. (Or maybe, It will make 'Enterprise Search' unnecessary as we know it.)

Besides the 'Collaboration concern', Enterprise Search concern is one of the main motivations for ECM providers to work in integrations as Alfresco-Dropbox, Documentum-Syncplicity, Athento-Box; but this is only the beginning, because content centralization is still far from becoming real.

Learn how Athento can boost your ECM system performance.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

7 Benefits of Athento

Athento iDM provides added functionality to any Document Management System or Enterprise Content Management system.

  1. Automating your capture processes
  2. Technologies such as image processing, neural networks, natural language processing, OCR and others allow Athento to:
    • Extract data from documents in order to identify there type. 
    • Identify documents correctly 98% of the time (one of the highest accuracy rates on the market).
    • Manage documents through workflows according to their type. 
    • Identify images, tables and other data structures present in scanned documents and extract their data. 
    • Avoid having to download and upload documents as attachments to e-mails.

  3. More efficient searches of documents
  4. Thanks to semantic technology , Athento:
    • Allows you to navigate between related documents.
    • Identifies key terms in documents and lets you browse through all the documents that contain the same terms.
    • Allows you to search the contents of your documents.

  5. Interconnection with other systems without expensive developments
  6. Athento facilitates communication between systems using webservicesCMISReslets , etc. so that:
    • You can set up a single point of access to documents contained in different repositories.
    • Centralize in a single repository documents handled by business applications (ERP, CRM, invoice management and other vertical business applications)
    • It follows open standards for document processing, laws regarding the retention and deletion of electronic records, digital signature policies, etc. (Technical interoperability)

  7. Rapid growth and Scalability
  8. 80% of the functionality of Athento are plug and play, so that users can add or remove features whenever they wish.

  9. Mobility and Collaboration
  10. With Athento you can work with your team on documents:
    • Share documents with external users.
    • Edit documents using GoogleDocs.
    • Access your documents from your mobile.
    • Configure your workflows.

  11. Lightweight and intuitive interface
  12. Athento has cross-platform access from mobile devices, ease of use for non-technical users and a light weight web interface that allows it to load fast.
     7. Oriented solutions to your business type
         Athento has been customized to meet the particular needs of certain sectors such as health and public administration. Athento is able to integrate with Document Management Systems such as Nuxeo, Alfresco, Sharepoint, Documentum, or anyone who implements the CMIS standard.

 Contact us now ! We can help improve the Enterprise Content Management system of your organization. 

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Best Tips for Starting an Enterprise Document Capture Project

Today, we have another guest. She's going to share with us what they, at IS Group, took into account when decided to implement a Document Capture solution.

Paper documents capture is a simple process by which a paper document is being converted to a digital or an electronic format. This process has become extremely important in the recent time owing to the simple fact it is much more convenient to access, handle, preserve and store digital document in comparison to the paper document. Therefore, a growing trend can be noticed whereby all well established enterprises are now taking the initiative to digitize all their paper documents.

This work can be accomplished with the help of integration of enterprise document capture solution in your present document management system or ECM software. However, for the successful implementation of the capture process you need to take the initiative of considering certain important facts and following a few important steps to ensure that the process is implemented properly and according to the requirements of a specific business.

How well do you know the work process of the enterprise? 

For the successful implementation of the enterprise document capture project, it is important for you to have a detailed knowledge about the various workflows in the business house. Since you are primarily engaged in integrating the new document capture solution in an already existing system, you should have detailed knowledge about primary activities of the company, how they are conducted and how it flows through the concerned departments. This knowledge will help you in integrating the document capture project successfully and completely. This is applicable for not only document capture solution but for conducting any business successfully.

The different types of documents 

This factor is also an extremely important that you need to consider while working on the document capture project. First, you need to have a comprehensive knowledge about the different documents that concerns the particular enterprise and also an approximate number of documents that you are planning to integrate for each and every year. This will help you in getting a better understanding of the different profiles that you need to create for storing different categories of documents in separate portfolios. It is going to aid in categorizing the documents in the correct manner and with the specific keywords and information and can be accessed at any point of time from anywhere.

Deciding on the scale

Once you have gathered the important facts like what are the different types of documents and basic framework of the various activities of a business house, now you need to focus on scaling the documents that you are digitizing. This is an important fact that you need to consider and opt for the one that best suits your current project. Moreover, you also need to customize the other features in accordance with the demands of the client. This is a cumbersome process so you need to pay full attention to become successful.

These are some of the most important facts that will help in starting off and completing an Enterprise Document Capture Project successfully. By equipping yourself with all these knowledge prior to starting it, you would be able to completely it in time and with competency that will serve the need of your clients and also increase the company’s return on investment.

About the Author: The above article is composed by AJ from IS Group. She recommends her own company for signs for retail stores because it provides the best quality among the other competitors.  

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Athento Platform, Pure Interoperability

Unfortunately, most of the applications used by businesses ( BPM ,CRM , Human Resources, etc.) can not share data or business rules with document repositories. Many of the data produced, used or operated by these applications have their support documents. The lack of communication between applications and the document management system can only generate data duplication, duplication of documentation and make automated processes to be impossible. 

Large companies such as BBVA or DGT face such difficulties, but found an answer in Athento . The secret of Athento can communicate with business applications and document repositories is in his heart Athento Platform Platform.

Athento Manager is the management platform of communication, presentation and implementation of services that combine repositories and services from several document management and enterprise content. 

Athento Platform contains a number of components that allow you to provide certain functionality (capture, semantics, mailroom) to the document management repositories regardless of where the documents are stored. 

Components can be developed and added to the platform (since Athento Platform is also a framework!) by bundles or jar files. 

A bundle can contain one or more components that together provide a range of services, or functionality that allows tasks to be carried out with documents. 

For example, we have two repositories with Sharepoint and Alfresco to add functionality that we want to capture: Capture documents from a scanner, from e-mail accounts, classify documents by type, extract their data and send them to an accounting application or an HR software. 
We have two options: 

Option A 

We are looking for an application that has been built on Sharepoint or one that is compatible (in both cases, we should have a large budget). We will have to make adaptations and adjustments on Sharepoint, Alfresco, the application of capture and on each of the applications that will be receiving the data produced. 

Option B 

Athento Platform thanks to its component Athento Capture, saves up to 36% when implementing such solutions. (Tweeteame!) 

How does It Work? 
A Athento Platform component we add his capture, Athento Capture. Athento Capture defines services, extension points and contributions to other components. Services, is what matters most, because it's the way we can execute certain operation on documents, for example, getting the document from a scanner. To get the document from the scanner, Athento Capture will use the Twain service connection to scanner. Likewise, for other functions that take place, such as data mining, use of services, one of them could be the application of OCR on the document. But, how is it that after implementing these services it has no problem sharing data with, for example, the HR software? Because everything in Athento Platform Platform is done in a special structure. 

In the case of the component Athento Capture, this has its own interface (presentation layer), from which you can scan from the scanner using for this the connection service Twain. Since most modern document management market implemented the CMIS standard, we can store the captured documents from the scanner and data extracted easily (Interoperability layer). After you use a lot of services, Athento Capture extracts data from the digitized documents and will now send it to the HR and accounting applications, for that it will use some connectors available for the performance of services and transmit these details using them. These connectors output for the example could be REST, EJB3, Atom, Web Services or CMIS. Athento Platform is so powerful, it offers all the tools of a framework to build on it components or applications that can provide particular functionality to the problems of each organization. 

Presentation layer for Athento Capture 
Capa de presentación Athento Capture

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ECM Tools: How to Find the Right Solution for You

Today, we have a new guest. Someone who works in a Law Firm and wants to share with us her experience about ECM software importance.

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software is crucial for organizations to properly manage all of their documents, images and other important content. There are many ECM products out there, but it isn't as challenging as you might think to find the right one for your organization.

How ECM can help your organization get organized

Too many organizations are drowning in a sea of paperwork. Important files are locked in desks, filing cabinets, in warehouses - essentially, all over the place. Too often, not only is it hard for people to find what they're looking for internally, costing wasted time and hassles, it can make it harder to present your best image to external parties such as customers and stakeholders. An ECM solution helps get everything organized and instantly accessible. You can get rid of wasted space and have all of the information that you need right at your fingertips.

Finding the right solution for your organization

There are three main sub categories of ECM, and to figure out what solution you need, it's important to focus on what kind of content your organization needs to manage.

  • Web Content Management:  As its name implies, this type of ECM solution is for companies that have large websites with lots of content that needs to be accessed internally and externally. You will want to look for a solution that lets you fine-tune who has access to different kinds of content, as well as one that has robust features that let you create and publish content such as web pages, blog posts and image galleries. 
  • Collaboration: Collaboration tools help multiple users within your organization create and process information concurrently. These solutions often have virtual whiteboards and project management components that let users work off the same master documents and track their changes. The most important features to look for when choosing a collaboration-based ECM product are tools that let the users in your organization work as productively as possible. For example, if you know that video-conferences help to get work done, that could be a feature that can help your decision. 
  • Records Management: Records Management is the archiving of all of an organization's important documents, such as payroll records, financial documents, government forms and anything else your organization needs to keep a record of. Ideally, you would be best served by looking for a solution that can automate the archival process as much as possible, while also integrating with core business processes and applications. 
  • Documents and other digital content management: Storing all your companies documents in a digital format isn't often enough for most of companies. Mail, invoices, reports and digital assets need to be tracked. Besides, those documents must be easy to find, available to teamwork and protected from unwanted visitors.

The time to start using ECM is now

An ECM product can be a significant capital investment. However, using ECM provides measurable savings through improved efficiency, better compliance and reduced waste. Choose an ECM product that meets your organization's needs and you will begin to reap the rewards right away.

About the Author Rowena Kang is a writer and the Outreach Director for the Morgan Law Firm, a firm that represents clients going through a divorce in Austin divorce firm. See additional articles on the firm's Austin Divorce Blog.

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