Monday, February 25, 2013

The ECM Glossary: A new tool to understand document management and Enterprise Content Management

No doubt about it: All of the things that are related to document management and ECM might seem a bit confusing and complicated. If looking for answers and information on how to manage the flow of information in your business seems bewildering, because of the endless number of acronyms and new concepts, don’t worry. You’re not the only one – it’s happened to all of us.

ECM, DMS, CRM, CMS….what IS all of this? you might ask yourself. Don’t worry; we’re here to help. And that’s not just because, at Yerbabuena Software, we’re fans of “sharing the knowledge”. In our business, we offer clients a complete ECM platform (don’t panic! We’ll explain shortly what that means) called Athento, and it’s vitally important that you understand the concepts and the possibilities of managing business content and data so that you can visualize everything that our services can give your company.

That’s the reason why we decided to create this Document Management and ECM Glossary. We’re going to need your help to continue to build it. If there’s a term or expression that you think should be clarified, just leave a comment.

Over the coming months, we’ll provide you with more concepts, so that the next time somebody speaks to you regarding document management or ECM, there will be no confusion.

Our hope is that, over the next few months, with the help of our readers, we’ll be able to compile a complete glossary that will help us all as a document of reference.


Our first entries are those that begin with the letter “A”:


Enterprise Content Management is a blanket term for the strategies, methods and tools used for the capture, management, storage and preservation, and distribution of documents related to organizational processes. Within the part that concerns capture in the life cycle of a document, which refers to obtaining and compiling documents inside a structure that allows for managing said documents, we find aggregation, which simply means combining documents that come from different applications, in order to (unify) data and transmit them to storage systems and process them in a structure that is uniform and has the same format.

Alfresco is one of the leading ECM platforms in the market. There are more than 2.500 Alfresco instances all around the world, some of them have been tested working with up to 100 millons of documents.
It is based on open standards and can be operated on various platforms, such as UNIX, on a company-wide scale. It is distributed in two different ways: Alfresco Community Edition comes without cost, with an LGPL license on open-source code and open standards. Alfresco Enterprise Edition is licensed software, based on open-source code and open standards; it offers customer support and can be licensed for an entire company. 

API (Application Programming Interface)
Speaking technically, an API is the group of functions and procedures (or methods, in object-oriented programming) which offers a specific library to be used by other software as a layer of abstraction. These are generally used in libraries.

In everyday English, APIs allow for the integration of applications inside other applications, so they can share content; that way, the new application can use the functionality and the information that the other application has. Let’s say, for example, that we wanted to use YouTube’s API. If we do that, we can use YouTube’s functionalities, like having a personalized gallery of videos that comes from YouTube’s data; that means that we don’t have to construct our own system of managing YouTube video content (like having to store it, program the code in order to display the YouTube video, or classify or search for content.)

Another example is Athento’s Geolocation Module, which uses Google Maps’s API to show us a map, on our mobile device, where the documents are located inside the management system, and which have been captured in a specific location (with specific latitude/longitude information) close to where the user finds him/herself (think, for example of sales people who are constantly on the move). That avoids wasting time by not having the work of looking for those documents.

Groups of documents collected and connected by the people who have responsibility for them (be in in a legal, government or private manner) in their everyday activities. These can be used for research, culture, information or administrative management.

ARM (Archives and Records Management)Allow a business to define a specific life cycle to a specific piece of information/record. To clarify: a document can be considered a record when the information it contains is specifically important to the processes of the business. The word “archives”, in this case, has been added to extend the concept of the class of information which is covered by the management system. To conclude, ARMs help us to management the processing of a document that has value to the business, from the time it’s created (or received) to the time it’s destroyed, going through all the steps of upkeep.

Athento is a multi repository  Enterprise Content Management platform. That means,  Athento gives repositories such as Nuxeo or Alfresco new functionalities, allowing for functionalities such as indexing documents via OCR, identifying the type of document received into the system (being able to distinguish between an invoice or a contract, for example), labeling documents so that they can be classified and accessed more easily, developing work flows starting from different types of documents (for example, describing the course that a work contract should take once it’s been uploaded to the management system – going through the HR and finance departments, for example), the use of tools which better allow users with special needs to access documents more easily, document management that is accessible from mobile devices; receiving documents by e-mail and allowing for intelligent automatic storage of documents. Athento is an excellent solution that allows for total adaptation for different types of uses within different types of organizations.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)ASCII is a code of characters based on the Latin alphabet and is used by many Western languages. Computers don’t read letters in the same way that human beings do: they can only understand bits, which are digits represented by a system of seven binary characters. ASCII codifies those characters into numbers which can later be “understood” by the machine.

This is easy to illustrate by using Athento’s OCR Module. The document management system receives a digitalized system (such as a PDF file, or a .jpg or .tiff image); where humans see characters, the machine can only understand it as a map of bits.  In order for the machine to obtain characters that it can process (whether it be for information that the machine can edit, or to obtain specific information, such as the name of a client on a invoice saved as a PDF file), the OCR module analyzes the dark and light zones until it can identify numbers and letters that are present in the image and can be converted into ASCII codes. That way, the machine can understand the document as a collection of characters, not just as an image.

An alternative to RSS feeds which was developed by using XML. It allows for the distribution of content and news from web pages. An Atom document can contain information that is more complete and consistent than those generated by RSS. The Collaboration Module from Athento’s platform permits subscriptions to ATOM, and to RSS, too.

Authetication (SSO)
Single sign-on is an authentication process that allows the user to access various systems with only one log-in. The Athento system allows for the use of components such as Ja-sig and Open SSO.

A module of the Athento platform that allows for the automatic annotation of any type of document at the moment of creation. This helps the system to group documents according to tags without the user being involved, providing (as an added value) a direct link to the Wikipedia of the tags that have been obtained. This module is ideal for the classification and digitalization of document archives, libraries, historical archives, daily newspapers, periodicals, etc.

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1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    Instead of creating this glossary on your web site, why you don't create a special page on Wikipedia ?

    Best regards